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PDFWAC 365-196-435

Economic development element.

(1) Requirements.
(a) The economic development element should establish local goals, policies, objectives, and provisions for economic growth and vitality and a high quality of life. An economic development element should include:
(i) A summary of the local economy such as population, employment, payroll, sectors, businesses, sales, and other information as appropriate;
(ii) A summary of the strengths and weaknesses of the local economy defined as the commercial and industrial sectors and supporting factors such as land use, transportation, utilities, education, workforce, housing, and natural/cultural resources; and
(iii) An identification of policies, programs, and projects to foster economic growth and development and to address future needs. Identification of these policies, programs, and projects should include a summary of each.
(b) A city that has chosen to be a residential community is exempt from the economic development element requirement of this subsection.
(c) The requirement to include an economic development element is null and void until sufficient funds to cover applicable local governments costs are appropriated and distributed at least two years before the due date for the periodic review and update required in RCW 36.70A.130(1).
(2) Recommendations for meeting the requirements. Counties and cities should consider using existing economic development plans developed at the county and regional level and may adopt them by reference as a means of including an economic development element within their comprehensive plan. Counties and cities should consider developing partnerships with organizations within the community and with state and federal agencies and the private sector. Because labor markets typically encompass at least one county and may encompass a multicounty region, counties and cities should coordinate economic development activities on a regional basis. The department recommends counties and cities consider the following in preparing an economic development element:
(a) A summary of the local economy.
(i) Economic development begins with information gathering. The purpose of information gathering is to provide a summary of the local economy. Much of this information is available from regional, state or federal agencies.
(ii) Counties and cities should use population information consistent with the information used in the land use element and the housing element.
(iii) Counties and cities are not required to generate original data, but can rely on available data from the agencies who report the information. Employment, payroll, and other economic information is available from state and federal agencies, such as the Washington state department of employment security, the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Census Bureau. Some of this information may not be available at the city level, but may be available only at the county-wide level. Government agencies that report this data may be prohibited from releasing certain data to avoid disclosing proprietary information. Local governments should also consult with their associate development organization, economic development council and economic development districts. Counties and cities may also use data such as permit volume, local inventories of available land and other data generated from their activities that is useful for economic development planning.
(b) Summary of strengths and weaknesses of the local economy.
(i) Counties and cities should consult with their associated development organization, economic development council and/or economic development district to help with identifying appropriate commercial and industrial sectors.
(ii) Shift-share analysis is one method of identifying strengths and weaknesses of the local economy. This method identifies industrial sectors that have a relatively greater proportion of the local area's employment than exists in the national economy. It is one method of identifying sectors with a local competitive advantage. This is a method that can be employed using readily available existing data.
(iii) Identification of industry clusters is another method of identifying strengths and weaknesses of the local economy. State and local economic development organizations, including some associated development organizations and the department, have identified a number of industry clusters in the state. An industry cluster is a group of related firms that provide interdependent specialized goods or services. The presence of existing suppliers of specialized services and a specialized work force makes attracting additional economic activity in the cluster easier.
(iv) Identifying strong industry sectors or clusters can help determine strengths and weaknesses, help a city or county develop a realistic profile of land and infrastructure needs, and identify ways to focus economic development activities. It does not confer preferred status on any particular firm or industry. Counties and cities should still treat all individuals and firms as equal under the law.
(v) Counties and cities may also refer to information and public input collected during public participation to identify strengths and weaknesses based on community perception of their community. Counties and cities may conduct a separate visioning exercise to help identify strengths and weaknesses.
(vi) Counties and cities may employ asset mapping, which builds from the information gathered. Asset mapping is similar to traditional strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) analysis with several significant distinctions. Under the SWOT analysis, strength and opportunity factors may not be linked together.
(c) Identification of policies, programs, and projects to foster economic growth and development and to address future needs.
(i) After identifying strengths and weaknesses, the economic development element may identify policies, programs and projects that foster economic growth and development and address future needs. The programs and policies should be targeted at addressing weaknesses or capitalizing on strengths identified in the community.
(ii) Counties and cities should consider using specific, quantified, and time-framed performance targets that provide a measurement of the success of an economic development element and serve as a reference point in the economic development process.
[Statutory Authority: RCW 36.70A.050 and 36.70A.190. WSR 10-03-085, ยง 365-196-435, filed 1/19/10, effective 2/19/10.]
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