The President’s Pen is a weekly blog written by Jonathan Smith, New Vision’s President and CEO about local economic development projects and initiatives. It also covers economic trends, workforce issues, business climate policies, and manufacturing news.
Our organization enjoyed a positive year sprinkled with a number of job generating projects and progress on other fronts. We noticed a marked change in business development trends and it kept our staff busy with recruitment prospects and expanding local companies most of the year.
New Vision hosted quite a few companies evaluating our Valley as a location for new facilities. We worked with Oklahoma-based Paragon Films for several months as they looked up and down the West Coast for a place to expand operations. The company ultimately chose to locate in Union Gap and Paragon will open its new facility soon. The company will employ 50 people when it gets to full capacity at its new location.
Staff also worked with Arvato Digital Services as they looked for buildings that could accommodate their growing call center operation. The German owned company ultimately filled the vacant Whirlpool space in downtown Yakima. Arvato will hire approximately 150 people in 2013 and could easily double this employment count over time. The company will have a big impact on downtown Yakima and the region as a whole.
The development association also helped support several notable business expansion projects. Our team helped Peninsula Packaging as it geared up in a new facility (the former Ace Hardware distribution center). The company invested millions in new equipment and added 40 new employees as a result of expanding its Yakima operation. We also helped Amtech stage another successful expansion. The company rehabilitated an existing building in Wapato and added 30 new employees. These businesses and others like GE Aviation, Cubcrafters and HF Hauff received our help as part of our efforts to support local industry.
Our office also helped emerging businesses like Balebreaker Brewing Company, Selah’s Smiles and the Drawing Board move their entrepreneurial dreams towards reality. The new brewery needed a water line extended to support its new facility. Selah’s Smiles and the Drawing Board were the top two prize winners in our Enterprise Challenge business plan contest. Helping entrepreneurs through our contest and supporting other new businesses is an important part of our efforts to diversify the local economy.
New Vision also worked diligently to help local companies attract technical and professional employees to the region. Our LiveYakimaValley website has become the go to resources for human resource professionals and company managers when they are trying to bring talented new people into our community. We also hosted two receptions for new residents so we can help them with specific issues and get them further rooted in our community. Additionally staff worked with the local human resource association to complete a survey that helped us identify the top issues affecting local employers’ ability to recruit technical and professional employees.
It was a busy year for New Vision. We saw a lot of bright spots in terms of companies doing better and got a strong sense that our economy is rebounding from several tough years. At the same time though, we know it will require a collective effort to maintain our local economic momentum. Our Board and staff are ultimately excited about the future. We enjoy a broad based group of public and private investors and your support gives us the confidence that we can trigger economic growth and advance our local economy.
Click here to read the rest of our 2012 annual report