As we enter a New Year, it is clear that the national economy is on a rebound. For November 2003, the Consumer Price Index was down 0.2 percent, the unemployment rate was down to 5.9 percent, productivity was up an astounding 9.4 percent (from the same quarter of 2002); with all being positive indicators of a strengthening economy. A growing, strengthening economy is one that will produce the jobs that will produce the next round of growth in the economy. This positive-feedback cycle is encouraging, and coupled with the good news from the international arena, it should gather strength this next quarter.
Locally, the Boeing Company's announcement to produce the next-generation 7E7 in Everett will keep this state from being decimated by the loss of a substantial portion of its aerospace industry. This event has direct impacts upon Eastern Washington, as the difficulty of improving the local economy increases in direct proportion to any increases in the weakness of the economy in the Puget Sound region.
Even closer to home, the effects of the hirings at the Wal-Mart distribution center will soon be felt. This will help offset anticipated losses we will experience in some of the agriculture sectors. The long-term net will be a more diversified local economy, one goal that Sunnyside Incorporated has been working on for almost two decades, and has had considerable success with.
At this time, Sunnyside Incorporated is actively pursuing new opportunities to continue improving the local economy, and to attract new employers into the Lower Valley. Additionally, we are working on ways to help local employers remain competitive in this tough business climate. We accomplish this through offering business counseling, consulting and through bringing educational resources to where the need is. We are not a political party ready to assert agenda into every issue that businesses encounter. We recognize that there is a proper venue and level of regulation that assists businesses to thrive, while protecting the health and safety of employees, customers and society in general. We take stands against excessive regulation, not against every regulation solely by virtue of its existence.
Sunnyside Incorporated has led efforts to renew the downtown district in Sunnyside for many years. The primary beneficiaries have been those businesses that are located within the downtown core. Tens of thousands of dollars have been spent on this effort. The Foundation for the Community of Sunnyside was formed solely for the purpose of making community improvements.
The Centennial Park Square in the core of downtown was accomplished through the efforts and gifts of the Vlieger family, Mr. Dave Fonfara, Sunnyside Incorporated, the Chamber of Commerce, the City of Sunnyside, the Port of Sunnyside, the downtown merchants, Uptown Sunnyside Association, and many, many others; as well as all of the private donors that have their community patronage commemorated within the stonework in the park. You can still be a contributor to this ongoing project, as redefining the Sunnyside downtown core is a continuing need. This project has cut across all racial and cultural lines, and is recognized as providing a unifying, central, positive focal point for community gatherings, and is an icon demonstrating what this community can accomplish when all work together. This is the result of what happens when inclusiveness is the main focus of all the diverse groups that have a presence in this city.
The community center is ready to open, one other positive project for this community, one that has been accomplished in like manner through the inclusion of all parties.
There is substantial recognition that this community is interested in continuing to foster an atmosphere of inclusiveness and acceptance. It is up to each one of us to support the organizations that represent this community, and to bring our strengths and talents to these groups to help them serve the interests of all the residents. Just as the Centennial Park Square project and community center have been realized through the combined efforts of all, future projects also will have success through combining the talents of all parties.
Get involved, meet your fellow community members, add to the whole, and be a part of the positive. The national economy is strengthening, the state has retained a major economic generator in Boeing, the Valley has a new employer ready to kick out paychecks to be spent locally, and the community has accomplished some substantial positive projects. This next year could be very good for the Lower Yakima Valley, this community invites you to be a part of it.
Marshall Doak is Executive Director of Sunnyside Incorporated, an economic development organization dedicated to promoting economic growth in the Lower Yakima Valley.