Expanding Markets, Minimizing Costs at the Local Level

The best economic stimulus the government could provide is expedited projects and it wouldn’t cost a thing.” That statement by Jeff Stroud of Mountain Construction sums up one of the primary reasons why AGC members and staff play such an active role in local government policymaking.

Throughout the state AGC members and staff serve on committees and task forces advocating on behalf of the industry with cities counties and ports.

AGC’s Southern District provides a case study of how involvement in local government issues can expand markets and minimize costs for the industry. For example Stroud along with Ed Brooks of Sunset Pacific Carl Zarelli of Merit Construction and AGC Southern District Manager Tim Attebery participates in the City of Tacoma’s Permitting Task Force.

“The City of Tacoma permitting efforts used to be the gold standard of customer service” Stroud says. “But it fell off the wagon and needs to get back on track. Our approach is to ask how we can help not to gripe. There have been some improvements but we still have a way to go. There may be legitimate differences regarding interpretations of policies and the task force is a mechanism to discuss them.”

Through quarterly meetings that include City department heads the task force has not only improved permitting but has provided contractors the opportunity to address proposed regulations. “Bringing private-sector real-world development issues to the public-sector is a critical component of the AGC’s mission” says AGC’s Attebery. “Bad public policy can be deterred if AGC members and staff are able to review it early and provide input.”

In addition to the permit task force some of the other ways AGC is involved at the local level in Pierce County are:

  • TRAAC—Attebery is a member of the Ad Hoc Transportation Real Estate Excise Tax Allocation Advisory Committee (TRAAC) that reviews and provides recommendations to the County Executive and Council regarding the expenditure of certain REET funds for major arterial transportation projects. Recently with AGC’s support the Pierce County Council adopted TRAAC recommendations to sell $24 million in bonds for road construction in the County.
  • RAMP—Butch Brooks of Woodworth and Co. and Attebery are part of the Regional Access Mobility Partnership (RAMP) coalition. RAMP’s mission is to ensure a healthy regional economy associated with the development of an effective efficient transportation system and the resources to sustain it. The partnership is co-chaired by Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy Port of Tacoma Executive Director and Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber President and CEO David Graybill. “This committee constantly puts pressure on WSDOT and State Legislators so South Puget Sound transportation projects are on funding lists early and often” says Attebery.
  • Local Coalition—Attebery participates in an informal coalition of AGC the local Realtors Association and Master Builders of Pierce County. The group meets monthly with Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy and her Department Heads. “Important relationships are built in this small group setting critical communication with our elected leaders is achieved and bad public policy is killed before it sees the light of day” notes Attebery.

Stroud who is the Southern District representative on AGC’s Board of Trustees and Attebery say that local government involvement allows the industry and government to ferret-out systemic problems builds the relationships necessary to work things out and maintains the platforms for stakeholders to address proposals.

“We’re constantly in the face of decision-makers” concludes Attebery. “They know to ask us to be involved in any major decision affecting the industry.”