Economic Opportunity Throughout the Region

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Even during periods of economic growth, some parts of the region do not experience the degree of job growth and investment that other parts do. In some areas, increased infrastructure investments are needed to help support economic growth. In addition, while a regional perspective can illuminate common challenges and opportunities, a one-size-fits-all approach to economic development does not work for the diversity of the regional economy. The region has a strong network of organizations at the local level that work to identify the challenges and opportunities faced by each submarket, develop strategies to tackle their unique challenges, and take advantage of opportunities at hand.

The COVID-19 pandemic has created near-term uncertainty about where people will live and work in the future. The region continues to plan for and support major job centers through the Regional Growth Strategy. If more workers continue to work from home or in remote locations, this may provide opportunities for communities throughout the region to expand their economic base.

COVID-19 has called attention to the need for greater broadband access across the region. This connectivity is critical to connecting the region’s residents to educational and economic opportunities wherever they live.

Prior to the pandemic, some areas struggled to take advantage of the region’s economic growth. In other areas, growth and redevelopment, especially near transit hubs, has driven up demand and costs for commercial space, leading to displacement of important local businesses.

Challenges and Opportunities

The region has identified the following key issues, opportunities, and challenges in sustaining the region’s economy:

(New/Expanded) Expanding broadband connectivity throughout the region

COVID-19 has put into focus that broadband access is critical to connecting people, places and business to economic opportunity.

Investing in communities for job growth

Many communities throughout the region need increased infrastructure investments, including transportation, utilities, and housing to support job growth targets.

Strong localized economic development planning

Economic development activities in the region consist of multiple levels of focus, with regional plans, county plans, as well as planning at the local jurisdictional level to provide a focus on the strengths and opportunities of each submarket of the regional economy.

(New/Expanded) Preparing the region for a decentralized workforce

The region needs to be prepared for the possible shifts in trends of decentralized work in the region prompted by COVID-19.

Challenges in affordability and availability of commercial space

Growth and redevelopment, especially in areas near existing and future transit, have pushed commercial rents up, forcing many longtime businesses to close or relocate.

Strategic Response

The region has identified the following strategic focus areas for addressing identified challenges and opportunities:

Advance economic development within small cities and rural communities

The region should support economic activity in small cities and rural communities that is uniquely situated for these communities at a size and scale that is appropriate.

Identified near-term actions:

  • Provide technical assistance and data to support economic development planning at the local level.
  • Support funding mechanisms for redevelopment in small cities that is to scale with regional growth expectations.
  • Restore and complete major trail systems identified within regional plans.
  • Encourage recreational use in rural areas that is compatible with environmental interests and local culture.
  • Support economic development strategies that recognize agriculture and other industries that drive the economies in small cities and rural communities.
  • Support transportation improvements in small cities and rural areas that connect regional residents safely to recreational and economic opportunities and are designed and operated in a way that fits local context.
  • Expand broadband internet access to small cities and rural communities.
  • Support development of Cross Laminated Timber production and emerging market opportunities uniquely situated for rural communities.

Encourage economic growth across all parts of the region

The region should focus on identifying the economic challenges and opportunities that each sub-region faces and developing strategies and investments to address them.

Identified near-term actions:

  • Expand access to broadband internet access throughout the region.
  • Develop industry cluster analysis of sub-regions to provide data to support targeted economic development.
  • Support investment in areas of the region that are operating under their potential and that have strong opportunities for growth.
  • Support efforts to grow jobs in proximity to housing.
  • Target economic development efforts that support additional industries that will benefit targeted communities.
  • Encourage economic development that supports job opportunities throughout the region to help reduce the impact on the region’s transportation system.
  • Monitor the long-term impacts to job distribution and work from home due to COVID-19.
  • Develop strategies for local communities to reduce pressures of business displacement.

Even during periods of economic growth, some parts of the region do not experience the degree of job growth and investment that other parts do. In some areas, increased infrastructure investments are needed to help support economic growth. In addition, while a regional perspective can illuminate common challenges and opportunities, a one-size-fits-all approach to economic development does not work for the diversity of the regional economy. The region has a strong network of organizations at the local level that work to identify the challenges and opportunities faced by each submarket, develop strategies to tackle their unique challenges, and take advantage of opportunities at hand.

The COVID-19 pandemic has created near-term uncertainty about where people will live and work in the future. The region continues to plan for and support major job centers through the Regional Growth Strategy. If more workers continue to work from home or in remote locations, this may provide opportunities for communities throughout the region to expand their economic base.

COVID-19 has called attention to the need for greater broadband access across the region. This connectivity is critical to connecting the region’s residents to educational and economic opportunities wherever they live.

Prior to the pandemic, some areas struggled to take advantage of the region’s economic growth. In other areas, growth and redevelopment, especially near transit hubs, has driven up demand and costs for commercial space, leading to displacement of important local businesses.

Challenges and Opportunities

The region has identified the following key issues, opportunities, and challenges in sustaining the region’s economy:

(New/Expanded) Expanding broadband connectivity throughout the region

COVID-19 has put into focus that broadband access is critical to connecting people, places and business to economic opportunity.

Investing in communities for job growth

Many communities throughout the region need increased infrastructure investments, including transportation, utilities, and housing to support job growth targets.

Strong localized economic development planning

Economic development activities in the region consist of multiple levels of focus, with regional plans, county plans, as well as planning at the local jurisdictional level to provide a focus on the strengths and opportunities of each submarket of the regional economy.

(New/Expanded) Preparing the region for a decentralized workforce

The region needs to be prepared for the possible shifts in trends of decentralized work in the region prompted by COVID-19.

Challenges in affordability and availability of commercial space

Growth and redevelopment, especially in areas near existing and future transit, have pushed commercial rents up, forcing many longtime businesses to close or relocate.

Strategic Response

The region has identified the following strategic focus areas for addressing identified challenges and opportunities:

Advance economic development within small cities and rural communities

The region should support economic activity in small cities and rural communities that is uniquely situated for these communities at a size and scale that is appropriate.

Identified near-term actions:

  • Provide technical assistance and data to support economic development planning at the local level.
  • Support funding mechanisms for redevelopment in small cities that is to scale with regional growth expectations.
  • Restore and complete major trail systems identified within regional plans.
  • Encourage recreational use in rural areas that is compatible with environmental interests and local culture.
  • Support economic development strategies that recognize agriculture and other industries that drive the economies in small cities and rural communities.
  • Support transportation improvements in small cities and rural areas that connect regional residents safely to recreational and economic opportunities and are designed and operated in a way that fits local context.
  • Expand broadband internet access to small cities and rural communities.
  • Support development of Cross Laminated Timber production and emerging market opportunities uniquely situated for rural communities.

Encourage economic growth across all parts of the region

The region should focus on identifying the economic challenges and opportunities that each sub-region faces and developing strategies and investments to address them.

Identified near-term actions:

  • Expand access to broadband internet access throughout the region.
  • Develop industry cluster analysis of sub-regions to provide data to support targeted economic development.
  • Support investment in areas of the region that are operating under their potential and that have strong opportunities for growth.
  • Support efforts to grow jobs in proximity to housing.
  • Target economic development efforts that support additional industries that will benefit targeted communities.
  • Encourage economic development that supports job opportunities throughout the region to help reduce the impact on the region’s transportation system.
  • Monitor the long-term impacts to job distribution and work from home due to COVID-19.
  • Develop strategies for local communities to reduce pressures of business displacement.