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.
New Vision joined the City of Yakima at the International Council of Shopping Center’s annual Retail Convention. While retail has not traditionally been on New Visions radar, the 200-acre mill site in north east Yakima has attracted significant interest from developers.
During discussions about the potential for the mill site names like Bass Pro Shop, Nordstrom’s Rack, and Apple came up as likely candidates for a retail development on the property.
“Not all 200 acres will be built out in retail but what does develop in retail will be top of the line,” said Jon Smith, President of New Vision. “The site is adjacent to the freeway, will have its own interchange, and will serve a retail trade area of more than $1.7 billion in annual spending.”
How does retail fit into economic development? Retail provides sales tax for local governments that can be used on public services, infrastructure, and community initiatives. Cities, towns and counties that are proactive in growing their retail sectors not only increase funding for needed community projects, they also improve the quality of life and attract people from outside of the region to spend their dollars locally.
Regardless of where they live people buy cars, computers, books, clothes, accessories, and sporting goods. If those items are available locally, those sales grow the local economy. If residents leave Yakima County for those purchases, other communities receive the economic benefit of our spending.
Increasing local sales tax revenues benefits economic development in another way. Since 1998 the State has returned a portion of its share of the sales tax collected in Yakima County back to the County. Yakima County used the money to create the Supporting Investments in Economic Development fund. To date this funding program has invested over $40 million that in turn helped create or retain more than 2,000 jobs throughout the County.
Local retail sales tax revenue has been used to support job creation at distribution centers, food processors, wineries, manufacturers, packing houses, and more. In this way, continuing to grow retail in Yakima County results in job creation in every other sector of the economy.