YAKIMA – Meeting the needs of local companies is the top priority for a five-year plan recently announced by New Vision, the Yakima County Development Association.
Dave McFadden is New Vision’s president and he noted the development association’s board of directors recently finished a lengthy strategic planning effort in adopting a new five-year plan that will drive the development association’s priorities from 2014-18.
“Conversations about our opportunities and priorities were much different over the last few months compared to our recession challenged conversations over the past few years,” says McFadden. “The Yakima County Development Association Board sees tremendous potential for growth within our region in the years ahead.”
To help trigger that development, he says the board’s emphasis for the new five-year plan focuses on three initiatives: building local business, recruiting new industry and providing workforce and community leadership.
“Putting the needs of local companies at the top of the list, the board recognized that local companies create over two-thirds of all new jobs in most communities across the United States,” McFadden notes. “We are seeing a lot of businesses bounce back from the recession and wanting or needing to expand. This is a big opportunity for the region and our office will devote a lot of time and energy towards growing companies in our own back yard.”
Goals for the 2014-18 plan include hosting six prospective companies to a local site each year, increasing traffic to ycda.com by 30 percent each year, as well as helping to create a STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education web site to connect businesses, educators and students.
In addition, New Vision’s five-year plan aims to respond to 25 prospective companies per year that are specifically interested in locating in Yakima County or Washington state.
The association also will seek to make available $1.5 million of Supporting Investments in Economic Diversification (SIED) funds to support business expansion.
SIED funds have in the past aided business expansion efforts ranging from directional signs pointing motorists to local wineries to a Port of Sunnyside rail spur that serves Bleyhl’s propane storage needs.
McFadden notes that over the years New Vision has helped attract new companies that employ more than 1,800 people in Yakima County.
“We must continue to respond to prospective businesses that are searching for new factory locations,” he says.
In addition, he notes workforce and community leadership issues will also be part of New Vision’s mission over the next five years.
“Local companies and the prospective companies we want to attract need a talented workforce,” McFadden says.
“We have great employees within the region but we must nonetheless raise educational attainment and further develop a talent pipeline in order to meet demands presented by growing employers,” McFadden added.
New Vision’s outreach will also work on efforts to help improve the business climate in Yakima County.
“Whether it’s investing in public infrastructure (roads, water, etc.) or supporting key initiatives, the development association’s board clearly understands that we need to weigh in on and sometimes drive important public policy issues impacting our Valley,” McFadden says.