economic growth Liberty Lake

Candidate Question: Corporate and Economic Growth

in Candidate Corner/Candidate Questions/Featured/Government and Politics

The Liberty Lake Gazette asked all 10 candidates the following question at the same time via email. The candidate responses are in the order they replied. Click on a candidate name to view their full profile.

This question came from a Liberty Lake Gazette reader.

What type of corporate and economic growth opportunities do you feel are the best for our community and should be supported by our local government?

Bob Moore campaign photo
Bob Moore

There are several needs for Liberty Lake that are important for the health, safety, and welfare of the community and are economic growth opportunities:

  1. A comprehensive multi-care medical facility so that residents of all ages do not have to travel to downtown Spokane for many specialized medical services.
  2. A Community Center with multi-purpose meeting space including space for various community organizations and a Senior Center.
  3. A retirement complex, to include affordable independent living, assisted living, respite, memory, and medical care.

The City should try to attract local services type businesses to serve the residents of the community, as opposed to regional types of businesses that generate high traffic volumes and place additional burdens on the infrastructure and city services.

What type of corporate and economic growth opportunities do you feel are the best for our community and should be supported by our local government?

Annie Kurtz campaign photo
Annie Kurtz

I think that Liberty Lake needs to be strategic and broaden and diversify the sales tax base of the City in order to be able to capture sustainable revenue for the future. Currently the sales taxes revenue is bolstered by RV and car sales which can be considered luxury items. My recommendation as a City Council member would be that the City support and encourage the following types of business in order to lessen the extent a recession would have on our local economy while also adding these valuable services for our residents.

  • Government Offices
  • Daycare
  • Food and Beverage
  • Schools and Education
  • Auto & Home Repair
  • Social Assistance and Home Health
  • Movie Theatre
  • Utilities
  • Information/Technology

Inelastic Services

  • Healthcare,
  • Tax preparation,
  • Funeral homes and services,
  • Garbage and waste disposal, and
  • Utilities.

Inelastic means that businesses tend to not have significant shifts in income because there is a consistent demand for these services. Regardless of how the economy is performing, residents still file taxes, still get sick and need to go to the doctor, still need lights and water at their homes, and unfortunately die and need funeral arrangements.

In addition to the sustainable economic impact these industries will have, these businesses also add to the enjoyment and improved quality of life for our residents. I think it is critical that residents are engaged in this process and lend their voices to the discussion about what businesses they wish to see in our community. While corporate and economic growth was the focus of this question—I would also support and encourage businesses that add vibrancy and encourage local residents to craft and sell their own products. Living in an area where residents own and run small businesses is desirable and adds quality to residents while drawing people in to visit and enjoy our local events and businesses.

To learn more about why I think these businesses would be a positive addition to Liberty Lake, please find me on Facebook at Elect Annie Kurtz—Liberty Lake City Council Position #5.

What type of corporate and economic growth opportunities do you feel are the best for our community and should be supported by our local government?

Holly Woodruff campaign photo
Holly Woodruff
One of my chief concerns is diversification of the city’s tax base. With no income tax, the city relies on sales tax, property tax, utilities tax, and license and permit fees for the majority of its revenue. A large portion of the sales tax revenue comes from big ticket items like RV and auto sales, and home sales. During a recession, those items are often the first to see a downturn. People will forgo that new car or RV, and may decide to renovate their home rather than move. Sectors that tend to be recession-resistant are energy, utilities, healthcare, and consumer staples. Energy may not be a realistic sector for Liberty Lake to pursue – unless we decide to try solar panel or wind farms. We already tax utilities (see my answer to that question elsewhere). That leaves healthcare and consumer staples as the more likely sectors to pursue for recession-resistant businesses. Not only do we want to have a strong tax base to pay for city services, but we want to bring businesses that will be successful for the entrepreneurs. Liberty Lake is seeing an increase in various health care providers such as dentists’ and doctors’ offices. Can the city attract medical equipment manufacturers? Indianapolis, IN actively recruited medical equipment manufacturers with some success. Light industry such as that can be good for the city since they make and sell a product that can be taxed AND is beneficial to people who need such medical equipment. Workers may choose to spend money in Liberty Lake during lunch or after work. I’d like to see what other light industry would work for Liberty Lake, such as Huntwood Cabinets. Liberty Lake is well suited to smaller businesses. Some recession-resistant small businesses include alcohol, thrift stores, movie theaters, cosmetics, funeral services, and tax services. I’d like to hear from the residents of Liberty Lake what they’d like to see come to Liberty Lake. We have Liberty Lake Wine Cellars and Trailbreaker Cider open now, and the brewery will open soon, so the alcohol small business piece is covered. What consumer staples would Liberty Lakers like to have close by? We have a great pet store in Pawpular Companions, and that’s another recession-resistant small business area. Would Liberty Lake welcome a dollar store or other thrift kind of store? Personally, I’d love to see a Trader Joe’s, a Super Target, or a Costco here, but we’d have to deal with the traffic issues such popular stores would bring. We have a growing local restaurant scene and that’s an area that can attract people who live outside Liberty Lake as well as keep residents here. Why do residents leave the city to shop – where do they go? The city could have a short online survey to see what Liberty Lakers would like to have come to our community. This is a great question and one on every small city’s agenda. Thank you for the chance to share some of my thoughts.

What type of corporate and economic growth opportunities do you feel are the best for our community and should be supported by our local government?

Shane Brickner
I am a vocal proponent and supporter of local small businesses, as many of our local business owners will attest. Our challenge is that the large businesses like the big box stores and local car dealerships are providing roughly 90% of the tax revenue that our city relies on to thrive.

We must attract new businesses to our area, both large and small, to help diversify our sales tax revenue for the city. That revenue goes to our general fund, which pays for our city’s core administrative and operational budget. It’s vital to our city that we diversify that funding so that we don’t become too dependent on only a few businesses. It is my priority that we must also be mindful of how those new businesses will impact our community, and our traffic, to achieve a balance of what is in the best interest of our community as a whole.

What type of corporate and economic growth opportunities do you feel are the best for our community and should be supported by our local government?

Cris Kaminskas campaign photo
Cris Kaminskas
Economic development in a small city like ours obviously differs greatly from larger, more well-known cities where there are more options to offer incentives. Liberty Lake needs to focus on two key areas – Business Retention and Expansion (BRE) and attracting new businesses to the area.

BRE – 80% of growth comes from expansion of existing businesses, can help speed up local investment, and can slow down or even stop businesses from leaving. Businesses relocate for many reasons such as unfavorable changes in costs, need for additional facilities, different infrastructure requirements, workforce issues, and being lured to another location. As a city, we need to improve and expand on our relationships with the businesses already here. Together, with the Greater Spokane Valley Chamber of Commerce (GSVCC), we have a great opportunity to build those relationships, engage on a more intimate level with executive management, and to respond better and faster to their needs. If we don’t know our business leaders well enough to ask, “how can we help,” then we risk losing them. I would love to see the City partner more closely with GSVCC and other partners to build and properly implement a BRE program.

With regards to attracting new businesses to the area, the City also a civic partner with Greater Spokane Incorporated (GSI), GSI provides services for businesses large and small, from assisting entrepreneurs take their start up to the next stage of business development, providing government contracting and counseling services, responding to recruitment proposals to businesses looking to move to Spokane county, and much more. GSI played a key role in Comcast building in and moving to Liberty Lake where they now employ over 700 people.

What Liberty Lake needs right now is more retail/commercial growth to help diversify the sources of Sales Tax Revenue. Too much of that revenue stream depends on auto and RV sales – the hardest hit when the economy goes down. Personally, I would love to see destination establishments other specialty stores and restaurants that people will travel specifically to Liberty Lake for and that people will stay in Liberty Lake for. Are you already travelling to Spokane for Trader Joes? Traveling to Post Falls for Cabela’s? Driving all the way to Airway Heights for Movie and Dinner? Hate going to the South Hill or Coeur D’Alene for your ski gear and tuning? Looking for more family-friendly, affordable restaurants? Why send our sales tax dollars to these other areas when we can work towards keeping them here!

What type of corporate and economic growth opportunities do you feel are the best for our community and should be supported by our local government?

Phil Folyer campaign photo
Phil Folyer
The best scenario for the city is an approach that encourages a business to produce a service or product that is consumed and supported by our residents. Retention of existing business should never be overlooked when considering policy changes. Focus on opportunities or attractions that provide revenue from non-residents. Recruit new businesses by identifying the safe and low stress lifestyle along with the natural beauty the city offers. Sales tax revenue is a large part of the operating budget, a portion of it is at the mercy of auto & RV sales. As the economy slows, so does the sales tax revenue for the city. Economic growth is usually a good thing, but we must also plan for the downturns that eventually come along from time to time. New approaches, trends, and changes in the economy put us in an always-changing environment. It is important that we recognize these trends and act, not re-act.

What type of corporate and economic growth opportunities do you feel are the best for our community and should be supported by our local government?

Growth should focus on good paying jobs which will provide greater disposable income for working families. Recruiting businesses that support our existing cluster of businesses creates synergy and good commerce. Having our existing businesses expand and produce more leads to in-house job growth and enhanced commercial activity. Encouraging new entrepreneurs to begin their business here amongst our successful business community is a bonus and plus for all. Growth in all these dimensions will support our growing list of small business retailers and restaurants who are dependent upon increased activity and spending.

What type of corporate and economic growth opportunities do you feel are the best for our community and should be supported by our local government?

Dg Garcia campaign photo
DG Garcia
Corporations are certainly a plus to most communities, in Liberty Lake, they add to the revenue base, mostly by way of property taxes.

Small businesses are a bit more flexible and amenable to the local community. They tend to be locally owned and operated, they hire from the local community base and tend to be more able to move, change, expand, and adapt to the changes in the economy a bit better. Although they too can become unstable if they have not been appropriately developed—municipalities can aid new and small businesses with their growth plan making them more likely to succeed.

Small companies grow from the inside out, which allows them to focus on the communities bottom line—generating revenue that is derived domestically—
leveraging the ability for those dollars to remain in the city where produced. The money stays in the community.

I would support and recommend that our local government maintain that both types of business entities remain an integral part of this small bedroom community, where both corporations and small business enterprises support the sustainability of our local economy.

The revenue generated from both corporate and small business enterprises will allow Liberty Lake to be more diverse. Providing technology, and computer-based businesses, manufacturing, and product development to health and healing, coffee and car washes, restaurants, fast food, lawn care, automotive, to insurance, and eldercare. A healthy economy needs all and more.

No response: Dan Dunne, Tom Stanley

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