Economic Development Goal: Something’s Missing / Facebook Post, Whatcom Hawk, Wendy Harris

comp plan economics goal 5

1 hr May 31, 2016  Wendy Harris ACTION

[Wendy originally made this post on Whatcom Hawk, but added the following additional text when she reposted it in the Bellingham Racial Justice Coalition Facebook group:

This pertains to the Whatcom County Comprehensive Plan which creates the policies and goals that determine the programs and regulations the county will implement, so it is important.

Please send the county council a written comment or attend the council meeting tonight or sometime soon and speak at open session after the public hearing. We need to make sure that the emphasis on helping disadvantaged people and communities is reflected in our local policies and programs.]

The economic development goal of the GMA [Growth Management Act] puts emphasis on disadvantaged communities and unemployed and disadvantaged people, but somehow that got lost in translation because in the staff and council version, that language is left out. We must not let that happen.

Here is what the actual GMA language states:

Economic development. Encourage economic development throughout the state that is consistent with adopted comprehensive plans, promote economic opportunity for all citizens of this state, especially for unemployed and for disadvantaged persons, promote the retention and expansion of existing businesses and recruitment of new businesses, recognize regional differences impacting economic development opportunities, and encourage growth in areas experiencing insufficient economic growth, all within the capacities of the state’s natural resources, public services, and public facilities.

Here is the proposed language addressing this goal:

This chapter specifically addresses Goal #5 of the Growth Management Act, which encourages economic development and economic opportunity for all citizens of the state. The County-Wide Planning Policies and Community Value Statements also have a sections on economic development, which this chapter specifically addresses. Examples include: recognition of the need for a healthy economy; the emphasis on coordination and cooperation among jurisdictions and public/private partnering; coordination with environmental quality; and the desire to maintain the resource-based industries and recreation as we move toward a more diversified economy. This chapter recognizes the best path towards economic prosperity will likely be found through promotion of the county’s existing strengths, such as our unique position to accommodate Canadian companies looking to expand and access the US market, our extensive recreational infrastructure, and the skilled workforce produced by our excellent educational institutions. In general this chapter addresses the points raised in the CEDS, the County-Wide Planning Policies, and the Visioning Community Value Statements but goes beyond all documents to address other economic issues.

So not only does the administration and staff ignore the unemployed and disadvantaged communities, it adds in gratuitous language about extensive recreational infrastructure (???), which is in direct conflict with protection of habitat and species, and it references our skilled and educated workforce. (See page 7- 3).

The documents are little hard to follow, but you need to pull up the lastest version of changes from the council for May 31, 2016.

Read Wendy’s post in the Whatcom Hawk Facebook group here.

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