Clark County has become the most business friendly community on the West Coast. As a result, Free Enterprise is flourishing here. We’ve opened the floodgates to local private jobs. Here are a few businesses that chose to invest in Clark County as a result of our new business friendly environment.
The Private Sector response to our Fee Waiver program has generated plenty of new economic activity for Clark County. To efficiently serve our customers, we completely rebuilt our permit center that is now beautiful and efficient. The most sound financial practice is to avoid debt, so we paid cash from this account.
In addition, we paid cash to replace our old outdated permit management software with a next generation web-based system.
Our General Fund has always paid about the same amount each year to provide for our Community Development staff. Now that we are so much more efficient, our cash balances are pushing into new highs. The blue line in the following graph shows the running cash fund balance.
We post the latest graphs monthly, typically by the 3rd week after the close of that month. These are from May 2015. You can click to enlarge the image.
Traffic Impact Fees make up only 3% of our Road Fund revenue while 97% comes from taxes and grants. As the following graph shows, our Road Fund is robust and healthy even as we continue to build and improve dozens of road construction projects throughout our county.
Clark County policies and Public Works apply only to the unincorporated areas of the county. We’ve got the best maintained roads in the state and the smartest traffic signals even though we keep a lid on taxes. Vancouver City is an entirely different story.
Each month, Scott Bailey, Regional Economist with the Washington State Employment Security Department, publishes an employment report for Clark County. His graphs show the dramatic turnaround for Clark County since we streamlined our permit processes and adopted our Fee Waiver Program. This graph is from May 2015 (the latest available as of this update.) The graphs published by the Washington Department of Employment Security and Regional Economist Scott Bailey show that Clark County gained 10,000 new full time jobs since the Fee Waiver program was adopted. Bailey’s reports can be found here.
Each month, we publish all the metrics reported by the applicants of the Fee Waiver program. The following graph shows the latest report from May 2015.
Lest we forget – remember where we came from
Prior to our Fee Waiver program, the bleak conditions and the grim future of Clark County’s economy was published by the Columbia River Economic Development Council (CREDC) in the September 2011 Clark County Economic Report as quoted below:
“Clark County has fallen behind and the unemployment rate in Clark County is now among the highest in the state. Clark County’s construction and manufacturing workforce was hit particularly hard by the Great Recession. The recovery from the recession is slow. Scott Bailey (the regional economist for the Washington Employment Security Department) predicts that the prospects for job growth are grim. In fact, he is concerned that there may be very little job recovery over the next five years.”
Clark County leadership accepted that as the new norm and did little to help from 2009 – 2012. That stagnation was met by inaction by our county commissioners who were instead pushing to sink us with billions in new long term debt for the CRC Light Rail Tolling project that we were told was a “done deal”. So many of our neighbors were ought of work, so many businesses were failing, permits were too expensive and too difficult to get, so businesses were not building. To get a job, Clark County residents had to find work elsewhere.
The need for new leadership and a new vision woke many of us up including me. Clark County chose a new direction and we went to work to turn our economy around to stop the CRC and to make our local economy our top priority. We streamlined the permit processes, focused on making our customers successful and waived all fees for any business willing to create even one job in Clark County.
We adopted the Fee Waiver in June 2013 and Scott Bailey’s monthly reports document Clark County’s dramatic turnaround to quickly become the fastest growing economy and with the most healthy job growth rate on the West Coast. All of the metrics obviously provide ample evidence of Clark County’s booming success. In addition, the program is not only sustainable, it is generating more revenue than ever and is likely to allow us to lower many rates for residential permits.
For current news of Clark County’s vitality and outstanding growth, see this July 2015 story in the Vancouver Business Journal.
We are thankful for our community’s new vitality. Yet, the Columbian and others have misrepresented this success as a failure by misinforming our citizens. To see see the errors debunked with the truth, see my Fact Checks page. Thank God we are healthy again and that well documented truth is self-evident.