Klickitat County, WA

Population: 21,172

Poverty Rate: 14.9%

Median Age: 45.9

Number of Employees: 8,242

Median Household Income: $51,258

Link: 10-YEAR ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT STRATEGIC PLAN

 

GOAL 1. FOUNDATIONAL INITIATIVES:

Lay the necessary groundwork to support all other economic development activities, achieve desired long-term economic growth, and accelerate positive outcomes for Klickitat County

 

  • It is important to understand the current condition and anticipated limitations of Klickitat County infrastructure. After gaining an understanding of existing infrastructure, the consulting team recommends the following strategies and actions to facilitate appropriate investment:

 

1.1. Facilitate and/or advocate for investment in suitable infrastructure needed to support businesses, attract and retain talent, and facilitate economic growth. Place emphasis on investments that undergird the priorities of the strategic plan.

 

  • 1.1.1 Identify critical countywide transportation infrastructure investment needs based on their potential impact on economic development efforts over the next 10 years.

  • 1.1.1.2 On an annual basis, identify and document the top five transportation improvements that will support economic development in targeted growth corridors. Publish this list on the Klickitat EDA website.

 

1.1.2. Continue promoting investment in road infrastructure to improve the movement of workforce and goods throughout the county

 

1.1.3. Continue promoting investment in freight rail capacity in the county, especially rail that serves businesses and industrial parks.  

*Does trinity have trains?

  • 1.1.3.1 Explore rail improvements around the community of Roosevelt, as they could benefit the landfill and adjacent sites in need of inexpensive rail transportation to and from Seattle. 

 

1.1.5. Identify and seek federal and/or state funding to augment infrastructure investments. 

  • 1.1.5.1. Identify an infrastructure project or projects that qualify for funding under the US EDA Public Works Program. These grants provide investments to help distressed communities build, design, and engineer critical infrastructure and facilities that encourage regional prosperity. This program also provides resources to meet the construction and/or infrastructure design needs of communities to enable them to become more economically competitive.

  • 1.1.5.2. Explore the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) programs described below as potential infrastructure funding options. 

    • 1.1.5.2.1 Grant funding for public Infrastructure to support economic development. This program provides funding to extend public sewer, water, utilities, transportation, and other infrastructure or facilities necessary to support economic development activities resulting in job creation.

    • 1.1.5.2.2 Direct economic development assistance to for-profit entities provides assistance to businesses and other for-profit entities in the form of grants, loans, loan guarantees, and interest supplements to acquire land, construct private buildings or infrastructure, purchase equipment, purchase inventory, or working capital.

 

HIGH-SPEED INTERNET ACCESS:

Klickitat County faces challenges to establishing affordable countywide high-speed internet access, especially in remote areas of the county with variable terrain. The following strategies address further development of broadband infrastructure within the county

 

1.1.6. Promote and/or facilitate outside investment (public and/or private sector) in providing the infrastructure necessary to ensure high-speed internet availability in all populated areas of the county.

 

1.1.7. Explore and identify potential federal and state funding sources to assist in broadband advisement, infrastructure build-out, technical assistance, and/or community organizing. Possible sources include:

  • Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) including a potential private partnership

  • Community Economic Revitalization Board (CERB)

  • National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) 

  • United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)

    • Community Connect Grants

    • Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grants

    • Farm Bill Broadband Loans & Loan Guarantees

    • Telecommunications Infrastructure Loans and Guarantees

    • Rural Utilities Program

  • Economic Development Administration (EDA)

  • Federal Communications Commission (FCC) 

    • Connect America Fund

    • Universal Access Program

1.1.8. Continue involvement with the Columbia Gorge Broadband Consortium to understand and address gaps in broadband access in Klickitat County.

*Would this consortium do work in CA? Or does Trinity County have a similar organization to address gaps in their broadband access if not?

  • 1.1.8.1. Continue supporting actions based on findings from the 2013 Klickitat-Skamania Local Technology Planning Team (LTPT) Community Broadband Report.

  • 1.1.8.2. Review the Consortium’s broadband asset inventory, which documents current high-speed internet assets and recommends strategies to increase asset development in the county.

  • 1.1.8.3. Based on responses from LTPT broadband demand surveys, determine the threshold population level at which to provide broadband services in the county, and develop a plan for phases of build-out, if needed.

 

1.1.9. Leverage existing broadband mapping that has occurred at regional, state, and national levels to inform planning and decision-making.

 

1.1.10. Explore utilizing existing 911 cell tower infrastructure in the county to develop a broadband network.

 

1.1.11. Stay informed on 5G availability in the county and its impact on planned broadband infrastructure initiatives.

 

POLICY DEVELOPMENT:

Government policy can greatly influence a community’s business climate and the trajectory of its economic growth. While the Klickitat EDA is not a policymaking body, it can affect policy change through its existing relationships with other local, county, and state policymaking bodies. The following strategies and actions make recommendations to this end. 

 

1.2 Encourage and sustain policymaking that supports the County’s economic development efforts. Propose ways to streamline processes, reduce out-of-pocket expenses, and ease regulations that create barriers for business growth. 

  • 1.2.1. As a part of Klickitat EDA’s business retention and expansion visitation program, poll representatives of existing businesses to understand the most significant policy opportunities and challenges. Communicate responses to the County’s policymaking bodies.

  • 1.2.2. Explore models for industrial site pre-permitting or expedited permitting. Refer to the Klickitat County Energy Overlay and The Dalles regional wetlands permits for ideas.

  • 1.2.3. Encourage Klickitat County and other local governments to continue implementing lean processes and organizational efficiencies in an effort to remove barriers and streamline the regulatory environment. 

  • 1.2.4. Partner with the Washington Department of Commerce on its “Regulatory Roadmap” to improve the regulatory experience for the county’s new businesses.

  • 1.2.5. Advocate for becoming an additional pilot program for the state’s property tax abatement incentive to encourage new construction for advanced manufacturing (See callout box to the right)

  • 1.2.6. Protect land already designated for industrial or commercial uses from rezoning.

 

COUNTY POSITIONING:

 

1.3 Ensure Klickitat County and the Klickitat EDA are broadly visible and strategically positioned among four audience groups: 1) intra-county; 2) Mid-Columbia and South Central Washington regions; 3) state; and 4) federal. 

 

  • 1.3.1. Ensure lines of communication (e.g. communication with Ports, local governments, and County departments) are open, clear, and consistent to guarantee needs are understood and their impact on economic development efforts is communicated. Cultivate ongoing relationships with individuals and parties within the appropriate entities.

  • 1.3.2.4. Continue to remain engaged with other current and potential economic development partners

 

STATE AUDIENCES:

Because Klickitat County is somewhat isolated from major population centers in Washington State, it can potentially be overlooked by key state-level audiences. Staying visible and ensuring the region’s voice is heard on an ongoing basis is crucial. The resounding message that all key state audiences should receive is that economies of rural and urban parts of any state are interdependent and vital to each other’s existence, as well as the state’s overall economic viability.

 

1.3.4. Stay in close contact with relevant key sector leads at Commerce. 

  • 1.3.4.1. Host annual forums with the aerospace, agriculture (including representation from the US Department of Agriculture), clean technology, and forest products sector leads to ensure they understand county issues and needs. One forum should take place in the Puget Sound area and one in the county. Invite county and regional stakeholders that represent various sectors. 

1.3.6. Klickitat County’s voice should be heard by state-level lawmakers. Klickitat EDA should organize a trip to Olympia at least once a year. The group should include private citizens, businesses, and regional government representatives.

  • 1.3.6.1. Create targeted economic development messages and update on an annual basis. Limit the list to three or four topics, and develop a script and/or common language to ensure consistency and a unified voice regarding the economic condition, opportunities, and challenges in the county

 

GOAL 2. CATALYST OPPORTUNITIES:

Identify competitive advantages in each geographic area of the county. Place priority on opportunities that represent the highest potential short- and long-term return on investment to the community. Form thoughtful initiatives based on recommended target industry clusters.

 

 

THE HIGH-TECH INDUSTRY:

The high-tech industry (especially the unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) and composites industries) is one of the most promising opportunities for the economic growth of the county. TIP recommends the following strategies to support industry growth:

 

 2.1. Focus efforts on the high-tech industry (esp. unmanned systems and composites) as a primary catalyst opportunity for the west segment of the county

  •  2.1.1. Convene a coalition of business leaders, elected officials, Port representatives, etc. to focus on the retention and expansion of existing high-tech business in the county.

  • 2.1.2. Prepare a targeted marketing initiative aimed at recruiting high tech companies to the county

  • 2.1.3. Tailor entrepreneurship-related activities to encourage the formation of high tech businesses.


 

UNMANNED AERIAL SYSTEMS (UAS) 

As an emerging industry, UAS is in a state of flux; long term federal regulations are not currently in place. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has plans to fully integrate UAS into the National Airspace System (NAS) and roll back limitations (versus its current system of operational segregation), which will open up additional commercial opportunities for the industry. 

 

2.1.4. Promote the county as a major center of the UAS industry.

  • 2.1.4.4. Focus business attraction efforts on recruiting additional UAS supply chain companies to Klickitat County. Focus additional marketing and business attraction efforts on diversifying the UAS supply chain, such as recruiting services and software development companies to develop agriculture, utilities, and railroad applications for the UAS industry

  • 2.1.4.5. Encourage both industry and local government partnerships with the FAA-selected Center of Excellence for UAS Research, called the Alliance for System Safety of UAS through Research Excellence (ASSURE). 

  • 2.1.4.7. Consider applying for an Innovation Partnership Zone (IPZ) designation through the Department of Commerce. 

 

COMPOSITES:

Demand for composite materials in the US market has consistently grown over the last five years. There are significant opportunities to leverage the county’s existing composites industry to attract new companies and expand existing operations.

 

2.1.5. Stay engaged with local composites businesses and keep a finger on the pulse of growth and change in the industry

  • 2.1.5.1. As a part of the Klickitat EDA’s business retention and expansion program, work with local composites businesses to understand needs and facilitate potential expansion projects.

  • 2.1.5.2. As a part of the Klickitat EDA’s business attraction and marketing programs, identify composites firms with potential plans to relocate or expand, and develop a yearlong direct marketing campaign. 

 

FOREST PRODUCTS INDUSTRY:

Forest products have been a key industry in Klickitat County for hundreds of years. The industry is primarily concentrated in the western portions of the county, although there is representation throughout the county. Increasing foreign competition, aging assets, high environmental compliance costs, and narrowing profit margins have all presented challenges in recent years. However, the forestry industry remains an important focus for Klickitat County. The following strategies and actions describe how the Klickitat EDA can play a role in enhancing this vital industry:

 

2.2. Continue to promote the importance of the forest products industry to the county, while staying aware of opportunities for enhancement and expansion. 

 

  • 2.2.1. Maintain open lines of communication with state and federal lawmakers to stress the importance of balancing sustainable forestry with economic opportunity.

  • 2.2.2. Continue to explore new innovations and developing technologies as a means to diversify and expand the forestry industry in the county. Stay informed on developments in:

    • Engineered wood products (e.g. cross-laminated timber)

    • Bioenergy/forest-based biorefineries

    • Wood-based nanomaterials

    • Wood modification treatments

    • 2.2.2.2. Consider applying for the US Forest Service’s Wood Innovation Program grant funding, aimed at expanding wood energy and wood products markets throughout the US.

    • 2.2.2.3. Facilitate collaboration between the County and landowners to sustain the industry in the region.

    • 2.2.2.4. Increase awareness of transportation issues impacting the industry and advocate for infrastructure development that supports the industry.

    • 2.2.2.5. Continue to promote a fair regulatory environment to protect the interests of the forest industry

    • 2.2.2.6. Continue to explore opportunities in the China pine export market. 

    • 2.2.2.7. Encourage commercial landowners to have their land designated as forestland. This designation often results in a lower assessed value and lower taxes. 

    • 2.2.2.8. Develop a public information campaign to clarify that forestland is not public property and promote courteous and respectful behavior. 

    • 2.2.2.9. Partner more closely with the Mount Adams Resource Stewards to promote stewardship based economic development programs, including the Small Wood Utilization Initiative, Business Incubator and Log Yard, and Forest Stewardship Network. 

    • 2.2.2.10. Facilitate programs that educate younger generations about forest stewardship. 

    • 2.2.2.11. Promote and implement policies that will mitigate wildfire risks.

 

CLEAN TECHNOLOGY:

With wind energy, landfill gas, and a planned pumped storage hydroelectricity operation in close proximity, clean technology is one of the most promising industry sectors in central Klickitat County. Considering Washington State has aggressive greenhouse gas, carbon reduction, and clean energy goals with the possibility of increasing its Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS), this sector makes perfect sense as a catalyst opportunity. 

 

2.3. Concentrate efforts on the clean technology industry as a catalyst opportunity, with an emphasis on 1) wind and solar; 2) waste-to-energy; and 3) hydroelectric power.

 

  • 2.3.1. Capitalize on the next stage of growth for the wind and solar energy industry.

    • 2.3.1.1. Facilitate the next phase of wind development projects in the area.

    • 2.3.1.2. Consider efforts to recruit a major wind turbine component manufacturing firm. 

    • 2.3.1.3. Become an area of wind energy thought leadership in the Pacific Northwest.

 

AVAILABLE LARGE-SCALE INDUSTRIAL SITES:

 

2.4. Concentrate efforts on available large-scale industrial sites as a primary catalyst opportunity for the county.

 

VITICULTURE / WINE / FRUIT PROCESSING:

*Few vignerons have explored Trinity Counties potential for wine cultivation due to its climate, but wine can actually grow near Trinity Lakes in the north east and in the Hyampom Valley in the West.


 

Eastern Klickitat County is a picturesque area that exemplifies the diverse culture, climate, and industry of the MidColumbia region. A portion of the Columbia Valley sits in this part of the county, with its beautiful and expansive vineyards and fruit-producing farmland. The Columbia Valley is the largest grape-growing region of the state and is a major contributor to Washington’s ever-expanding wine industry.

 

While eastern Klickitat County has experienced tremendous success, it has not been without its share of challenges. Workforce availability and retention, transportation, and housing have remained constant barriers to productivity and growth. Proximity to developed infrastructure exacerbates this problem.

 

2.5 Leverage viticulture assets wherever possible in the county to support and grow the winemaking and wine tourism industries in the county. Mitigate issues surrounding workforce availability, retention, transportation, and housing.

  • 2.5.1. Create a sub-commission or independent formal consortium of all vineyard operators to collaborate and collectively address workforce, housing, community-building, and tourism issues.

  • 2.5.2. Explore funding options from the USDA.

  • 2.5.3. In partnership with community colleges and workforce development entities, develop and implement a workforce assistance and training program.

  • 2.5.4. Work with the Department of Ecology and Columbia River board to secure additional water rights to the Columbia River.

  • 2.5.5. Invest in county roads that bear the brunt of heavy truck traffic to support the transportation of goods into and out of the county.

  • 2.5.6. Explore opportunities to promote and support agritourism and attract visitors to the region. Consider extending and/or improving Highway 241/Alderdale Road so that it draws more tourists.

  • 2.5.7. Promote community building in the region—including schools and additional quality of life amenities—so that there is a population center to draw additional migration.

  • 2.5.12. Consider establishing a food manufacturing cluster. Explore attracting grape processing and other fruit processing operations.

    •  2.5.12.1. Stay abreast of new technologies and expansion in viticulture processing. 

 

HUBZONE CERTIFICATION:

The Small Business Administration (SBA) HUBZone program provides qualified businesses with prioritized access to federal contracting opportunities. Each of Klickitat County’s geographic segments are qualified HUBZones. HUBZone certification is a significant opportunity for the county’s businesses to received preferential access to federal contracts.

 

2.6. Consider countywide strategies related to HUBZone designation.

  • 2.6.1. Conduct outreach to government-contracting businesses countywide to educate them on the benefits of obtaining HUBZone status.

  • 2.6.2. Partner with the local Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) office to conduct small business outreach, provide registration and certification help, and assist with securing contracts. 

  • 2.6.3. Create an inexpensive countywide marketing campaign to encourage local businesses to become HUBZone-certified. Produce printed materials and distribute to local governments countywide.

  • 2.6.4. Utilize HUBZone designation to recruit new business and industry to the region.

 

GOAL 3. REAL ESTATE DEVELOPMENT:

Facilitate successful industrial, commercial, and residential development that serves the needs of a growing economy.

 

INDUSTRIAL DEVELOPMENT PARTNERSHIPS:

The following strategies and actions relate to forging and strengthening partnerships that will increase development of industrial lands in Klickitat County.

 

3.1. Identify potential partnerships with public and private entities to promote industrial development.

  • 3.1.1. Consider creating a countywide coalition similar to an Industrial Commission to identify, promote, and invest in infrastructure for industrial sites and buildings.

  • 3.1.2. Partner with the Port of Klickitat to explore opportunities to build additional speculative industrial space at the Port or other industrial site. 

  • 3.1.3. Facilitate further development of the county’s primary business/industrial parks. 

  • 3.1.4. Use existing incentives to promote industrial development and explore the potential to add new incentives

    • 3.1.5.1. To promote new private commercial and industrial development, consider implementing a “Fee-Free” program, which could apply to plan review fees, development inspection fees, building fees, etc.

3.2. Create an inventory of buildable land.

  • 3.2.1. The EDA should create a searchable online database of industrial and commercial office properties in the county. Additional property search and GIS mapping capabilities should be incorporated into the tool.

  • 3.2.2. Increase the inventory of shovel-ready industrial and commercial office sites in the county.

 

3.3. Identify funding mechanisms to facilitate an increased supply of shovel-ready land in the county.

  • 3.3.1. Consider allocating proceeds from the Real Estate Excise Tax for Local Capital Projects (REET) to fund critical economic development infrastructure in the county. A potential use of the REET funds would be funding infrastructure development at the county’s business/industrial parks.

 

WORKFORCE HOUSING:

An important asset for supporting the attraction, retention, and expansion of jobs is a diverse housing stock in close proximity to employment centers. A gap exists in the housing supply that supports the workforce of existing businesses in the county, and portions of Klickitat County are rapidly becoming less affordable. Subsidies alone cannot close the affordable housing gaps, so specific strategies and actions must be implemented. 

 

3.4. Collaborate with the Klickitat County Housing Authority to identify and expand funding sources and incentives for housing development. 

  • Examine factors that influence housing growth.

  • Explore available programs through the Washington Housing Finance Commission. Examples include:

    • Housing Tax Credit

    • Housing Tax Credit with Bonds

    • Nonprofit housing financing for developers of nonprofit 501(c)(3) housing

    • 80/20 housing bonds provides developers with access to bond financing 

  • Explore funding options available from the USDA Rural Community Development Initiative, which provides technical assistance and training funds to qualified intermediary organizations to develop their capacity to undertake housing, community facilities, and community and economic development projects in rural areas.


 

3.5. Conduct a countywide workforce housing analysis to assess the existing housing market, evaluate the regulatory environment, identify potential capacity for new development, and provide clear recommendations on ways the County can attract new housing. The analysis should do the following:

  • Provide a supply and demand analysis, which includes a review of historical trends and a discussion of potential capacity where new development could be supported.

  • Utilize the existing economic and workforce analysis performed in this strategic plan.

  • Assess the county’s existing housing market, including a review of demand drivers such as pricing (ownership and rental), education, and quality of life.

  • Evaluate the regulatory environment and seek to understand the existing municipal code, land-use code, impact fee structures, and permitting process. Identify any code elements that are negatively influencing development feasibility.

  • Conduct outreach to market participants (e.g. builders and local officials) and stakeholders (e.g. employers and community groups) to understand relevant local perspectives on opportunities and challenges.

  • Create an implementation plan for correcting any regulatory issues and approaches for engaging the market.

 

GOAL 4. WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT:

Attract, retain, and equip talent to create long-term, sustainable economic vitality. Beyond just creating a skilled workforce for Klickitat County employers, recruit and cultivate people with education, experience, and interest in helping the community remain competitive.

 

4.1. Collaborate with state higher education providers to expand workforce training availability and build awareness of workforce training and placement resources.

  • Explore available models for renovating an existing building or constructing a new building to house a shared training facility for use by all county educational entities. The facility should have technology to accommodate distance learning from nearby higher education institutions such as Columbia Gorge Community College, Clark College, Yakima Valley Community College and/or WSU. The Columbia Basin Technical Skills Center in Grant County is an example of such an initiative. Explore Workforce Investment Act or Wagner Peyser 7(b) grants help fund this effort. 

  • Align postsecondary initiatives with target industries

  • Partner with interested community colleges to design customized training programs for employers in high-growth industries.

  • Continue the valuable work that has already occurred in developing training consortiums

    • Plan hiring events for high school seniors at each of the county’s high schools.

    • Explore a hiring event in coordination with the Gorge Technology Alliance. 

    • Explore plans to create a distance-learning center in coordination with WorkSource for viticulture, enology, and/or basic agriculture processes.

 

PARTNERSHIPS:

Workforce development is a community effort. It requires input, buy-in, and contributions from multiple stakeholders and a wide variety of entities. Strong relationships can sometimes make the difference between a successful and unsuccessful effort. The strategies below focus on creating and maintaining partnerships to further workforce development efforts in the county.

 

4.2. Continue the Klickitat EDA's efforts to build partnerships that serve workforce needs within the county

  • Form a Klickitat Workforce Partnership (KWP) collaborative between county employers, local governments, K-12 educational entities, and regional higher education institutions to carry out cooperative programs that meet the training, education, and information needs of local and regional businesses, industries, and the local and regional labor market. Refer to the Lubbock Economic Development Alliance workforce collaborative as a best practice.

  • Consider partnering with local businesses to establish formal internship/apprenticeship programs to aid the transfer of vocational students to entry-level positions among existing local employers and/or targeted sectors (e.g. Innovative Composites).

  • Consider partnering with employer-supported programs that tie in to target industries, such as the Google-sponsored “Wind Challenge” robotics program.

  • Host an individual from the local WorkSource office to spend a portion of their time in Klickitat County.

  • Leverage resources available through the EDA University Center at Washington State University to develop workforce initiatives. 

  • Partner with Gorge Translink providers to offer transportation options for specific workforce programs.


 

ATTRACTION & RETENTION TACTICS:

The strategies below present ideas to recruit and retain strong talent in Klickitat County

 

4.3. Establish marketing and outreach campaigns aimed at retaining current residents and attracting former residents back to the county, as well as attracting new workers. 

  • Develop a “Come Home to Klickitat” campaign aimed at bringing former residents back to the county, leveraging high school alumni associations. 

  • Coordinate welcome packages with companies, residential real estate brokers, high schools, and community colleges to welcome new employees of existing companies.

  • Establish a marketing campaign to promote Klickitat County as a great place to live and work.

  • Leverage events, festivals, and outdoor recreation to attract and retain workers

  • Promote the value of existing higher education opportunities to current residents, workers, and employers. This could include conducting an assessment of whether current higher education resources are being used to their full potential.

  • Identify best practices for integrating current students into the community to give them a positive experience and improve their perception of and loyalty to the area. Examples include facilitating internships, connecting students with volunteer opportunities, and supporting community-focused projects.

  • Market community events to regional colleges and universities to engage current students.

  • Invite local professionals to speak at schools to create relationships between students and employers.

 

GOAL 5. KLICKITAT EDA PROGRAMS & SERVICES:

Formalize and clearly define the services that the Klickitat EDA can provide to the community both directly and through partnerships.

 

ADMINISTRATIVE

 

5.1. The Klickitat EDA Board of Directors should report to the existing Leadership Roundtable annually on strategic plan progress

 

BUSINESS RETENTION AND EXPANSION (BRE):

Prosperous, competitive businesses are more likely to remain and expand in a community and thus provide the best opportunity to expand a community’s tax base. Yet, existing firms can also pose the greatest economic threat to a community, should they close or relocate.

 

5.2. Develop a formal business retention and expansion program designed to support the County’s existing businesses.

  • Develop and maintain a comprehensive inventory of existing businesses and available properties. 

    • Use publicly available business records, such as tax records, utility hookups, and ownership transfers, as sources of information to maintain an up-to-date inventory of existing businesses and available properties.

    • Partner with local communities and organizations in this effort.

  • Call on existing businesses, including all major employers, to gauge the ability of and requirements for local businesses to operate successfully and possibly expand in the community.

    • Consider including city, business, and elected officials in visits to existing businesses

    • Conduct a regular employer survey as a means to document specific needs or concerns. Conduct interviews for key regional employers.

  • Host regular business roundtables to give local businesses the opportunity to meet face to face with economic and community development staff and to stimulate discussion. 

  • Establish policies such as fast track permitting and flexible zoning that can apply to the expansion of existing businesses and are not directed solely at the recruitment of new industries. 

  • Ensure that adequate networking opportunities for local business owners, including entrepreneurial companies and retail businesses, exist. This should include the opportunity to discuss issues on a topical basis (workforce, supplier networks, and startup resources).

  • Review development regulations, ordinances, and approval processes to ensure that government is responsive to the small business community.

  • Create a small business ombudsman position to serve as the primary point of contact for new and small businesses in the area, as well as to act as a liaison between the business community and relevant government departments and commissions.

  • Work with the financial community and other economic development groups to improve access to capital, a critical factor in small business and entrepreneurial development.

  • Promote existing small business programs and services. This includes working with area small business development centers and other relevant organizations to ensure they market their services to local businesses and entrepreneurial ventures.

  • Develop a “rapid response” strategy for dealing with potential layoffs or closures.

  • Identify assistance programs for at-risk companies, such as a small business resource network or the manufacturing modernization services offered through the US Department of Commerce's Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) program. 

  • Provide assistance and resources for business succession planning to ensure smooth ownership transfer and continued successful operations.

  • For any businesses that need assistance, provide top-notch customer service to ensure their needs are met.


 

BUSINESS ATTRACTION:

Attracting new businesses to a community has never been a more competitive discipline than it is today. However, because of the limited number of active projects at any given time, communities without a dedicated business attraction program have difficulty competing. A robust business attraction program is essential to stimulate investment and bring new jobs to a community. 

 

5.3. Develop a formal business attraction program designed to promote Klickitat County as a place to invest capital and locate a business.

  • Build awareness among corporate real estate managers and C-level decision-makers. Target these individuals through a direct marketing and visitation program, and invite them to the county to see specific projects.

  • Build awareness among decision-makers in target industries. The following steps provide a direct course of action for recruiting companies:

    • Produce a one-page marketing summary for each target industry. Relevant data has been assembled on each target industry for use in marketing letters and other publications. 

    • Conduct a direct marketing campaign (direct mail and phone calls followed by visitation). 

    • Participate in industry trade events. 

    • Track the success of the target industry campaign using a contact management system. This system should be flexible enough to allow staff to evaluate the effectiveness of each marketing channel (mail-outs, telemarketing, and trade events) and adjust marketing activities accordingly

 

MARKETING:

A strong economic development marketing program helps engage and educate the community about the organization’s activities, while bringing increased awareness of the many advantages to locating or expanding a business to the area.

 

5.4. Establish a formal marketing program to raise awareness of Klickitat County among target audiences.

  • Allocate funds to add an economic development specialist staff member to focus efforts on BRE, business attraction, and marketing.

  • Convene a focus group of representatives from local government and economic development related groups in the region to discuss the merits of having a coordinated marketing message. 

    • If a common message is developed, it should be used consistently in all materials. Elements to support this theme include a logo, website, prospect folder, specific industry profiles, and a press packet for both internal and external uses. 

  • Develop and implement an internal marketing effort to promote a positive image of Klickitat County and build awareness regarding current economic development initiatives. One of the most important targets of any marketing effort should be the people and businesses already in the county. They have already made an investment in the community, and they represent the region on a daily basis. Making sure that existing residents and local business leaders have a positive image of the area is important to the success of an external campaign. 

  • Create a Klickitat County Ambassador program. Executives, managers, and others from local businesses often travel to meetings with professionals from other firms. These individuals can serve as your best marketing channel. The program would have a two-fold purpose: 1) to build an awareness of the region’s strengths among area business executives, and 2) to provide information for allowing them to spread a more positive image of the region in their business relationships.  

    • Identify business leaders most likely to influence decision makers and invite them to join.

    • In addition to promoting the County during the course of their business interactions, this group could be given a specific charge, such as addressing challenges facing the region or monitoring trends in target industries. 

    • In addition, the Ambassadors should be invited to visit prospects with the EDA.

    • Conduct visits to other cities and regions. The EDA and its Ambassadors should schedule at least three annual visits to benchmark communities. 

    • Create a brief profile touting the region’s positive aspects to be used by area business leaders.

    • Meet regularly with the Ambassadors, keeping them up to date on current initiatives, progress, and honing the Chamber’s marketing message.

    • Create a mechanism for the Ambassadors to refer prospect leads. 

  • Build awareness throughout the region. Klickitat County leaders need to focus their efforts on enhancing the community’s external image throughout the state, with an emphasis on the MidColumbia region.

 

5.5. Establish a new web presence for the Klickitat EDA.

 

ENTREPRENEURSHIP:

Economic development professionals may consider business creation difficult and resource-intensive, but the benefits a community reaps from a successful entrepreneurship program can be immense. Fostering an entrepreneurial climate can help a community retain local innovation and talent, build and keep wealth in the area, and contribute to the community’s character. Ultimately, an entrepreneurial-friendly environment can help a community achieve economic diversity and economic sustainability.

 

5.6. Work with partners to cultivate entrepreneurship and encourage new business startups in Klickitat County. 

  • Establish an “Entrepreneur Roundtable” made up of interested local entrepreneurs and small business owners that can be cross-promoted during BRE visits and other EDA communications and events. 

    • Consider creating a mentorship program within the Entrepreneur Roundtable to connect local established entrepreneurs and small business owners with new and emerging entrepreneurs and small business owners.

  • Partner with Washington State University to host a representative from the Yakima Small Business Development Center (SBDC) in the county on a weekly basis. This could be done in coordination with developing a shared workforce training facility. 

  • Develop an “Entrepreneur Resource Center” at the county that the offers literature on programs that assist small business owners.

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