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Thurston County leaders praise retail in annual State of the Community report

Elected leaders from throughout Thurston County praised the value of building their retail cores today during the Thurston County Chamber of Commerce annual State of the Community luncheon in Olympia.

WRA President/CEO Renée Sunde and Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Mark Johnson attended the event to hear reports from the mayors of Olympia, Lacey, Tumwater and Yelm and the chairman of the Thurston County Board of Commissioners. Each of the elected officials described the value of retail generating tax revenues toward services needed to accommodate growing populations.

Lacey Mayor Andy Ryder described his city’s growing retail base and sales tax generation as the backbone of the annual operating budget that pays for city services. It will remain important, he said, in helping Lacey grow services, particularly parks and recreation, for its expanding population.

Olympia Mayor Cheryl Selby complimented Sunde for her work on the city’s first economic development strategy when she worked as Olympia’s Economic Development Director. New retail development in downtown will be crucial to serving thousands of new residents expected to move downtown in the next 20 years, Selby said.

Tumwater Mayor Pete Kmet said recruiting a new Toyota dealership resulted in neighboring city infrastructure improvements along Interstate 5. He added that new retail revenues would contribute to growing the city’s parks and recreational amenities to keep pace with expected population growth.

Yelm Mayor J.W. Foster said the city’s population has doubled in the past decade due, in part, to its affordability compared to more urban communities in the South Sound region. He urged businesses to consider Yelm’s affordability advantage to locate business that can generate revenues to provide services to its growing population.

New retailers also could help Thurston County, which Commission Chair Bud Blake said needs to raise funds for a new county courthouse and to balance budgets squeezed by state funding reductions and unfunded mandates from government.

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