This is the fourth of a multi-part series that examines economic development efforts on the Olympic Peninsula.
What comes first, the chicken or the egg? That’s a question often involved in discussions about economic development.
Do you till the soil and plant the seeds for future economic development or do you wait for people to arrive and for businesses to come on their own?
One thing is for sure: According to experts such as Clallam Economic Development Council (EDC) Executive Director Linda Rotmark, services, schools, safety and health care are huge drawing cards in recruiting new business.
A conversation about OMC
A good example is our local Olympic Medical Center (OMC), Clallam County Public Hospital District No. 2. OMC has served the community since its establishment in the 1950s, and is governed by a seven-member, publicly elected board. Providing inpatient services at its 80-bed acute-care facility in Port Angeles — including a Level 3 trauma center (Harborview Medical Center in Seattle is the region’s only Level 1 trauma center), surgical services and labor and delivery — OMC is part of the economic development recruiting effort.
In a recent conversation with OMC Chief Executive Officer Eric Lewis, he discussed how OMC fits into the jigsaw puzzle of economic development.
Serving as the CEO since 2006, Lewis previously served as the chief financial officer at OMC for more than eight years. Lewis’ previous experience includes serving as vice president/controller at Stevens Hospital in Edmonds for more than seven years and, prior to that, five years in public accounting. He graduated from the University of Washington in 1985 with a bachelor’s degree in business administration. He is a certified public accountant.
On land first designated by President Abraham Lincoln for a future hospital, Olympic Memorial Hospital was established on Nov. 1, 1951.
Olympic Medical Center is the largest employer in Clallam County with more than 1,000 employees. Roughly 100 of those are employed at the Sequim medical campus.
Sequim is home to outpatient medical services including cardiac, imaging, physical therapy and rehabilitation, laboratory, sleep medicine, physician clinics and a state of the art cancer care center. In June, a new orthopedic clinic will open its doors in the former Sequim Medical Plaza. That clinic will be staffed by orthopedic surgeons Loren Larson and Keith Ure, along with two physician assistants.
Additional expansion in Sequim by OMC will involve the completion of more than 4,500 square feet of new physician space that will expand specialty and cardiology services. With this expansion will come a new urologist, Dr. Steve Jenkins.
With around 100 employees at the OMC facilities in Sequim now, the number is not expected to grow much beyond 110. “Improving what we do and becoming more efficient,” is the mantra of Lewis. Growing with the community is how Lewis sees OMC growing.
Lewis does acknowledge that the Olympic Medical Cancer Center is a unique world-class center that the board of commissioners committed to more than a decade ago as a goal. He is quick to describe this facility as the best rural cancer center in Washington, something he is very proud of.
Having these robust health care facilities locally is important in business. Lewis says that folks won’t move here without schools, hospitals and protection. So in that regard health care encourages movement here, says Lewis. That movement includes both retirees as well as businesses that may be looking for new sites to expand.
Any successes in local economic development?
Rotmark says there have been many successes in local economic development since the EDC was created in 1982.
Westport shipyard continues to be a significant employer. In 2003, the Port of Port Angeles secured an agreement with the ship builder, a company that now builds its flagship product — the 164-foot tri-deck cruising yacht — in Port Angeles.
Angeles Composite Technologies Inc. is a supplier of advanced structural composite assemblies and components serving the global commercial and military aerospace markets. Founded in 1996, ACTI’s state-of-the-art facility on port property encompasses more than 75,000 square feet of manufacturing space.
The PenPly mill in Port Angeles is an example of a success story. In September 2010, this 100,000-square-foot cedar plywood mill added 150 new jobs with benefits and $6 million investment in plant and equipment. The Clallam EDC played a key role in seeking funding that made this a success story.
The gaming industry has grown to become a significant employer that results in additional dollars coming back into the local communities. Future development will see conventions and resort accommodations being built in the next half decade.
Rotmark said that four years ago Bill Elliott, former Sequim city manager, told her the EDC could help the city by going to the Marine Sciences Laboratory to support its expansion efforts. She didn’t know about the Marine Sciences Laboratory then, but she visited; they told her they needed city services and asked for the help of the EDC. Currently the City of Sequim funds the EDC with $5,000 a year.
Between the success of big box stores to identify Sequim as the economic epicenter of Clallam County, the burgeoning numbers of workers reaching retirement age in the next few years and the projected expansion of the Marine Sciences Laboratory research campus on the banks of Sequim Bay, the economic future for the Sequim area looks much more healthy than the majority of similar-sized communities across the state.
Sequim City Manager Steve Burkett has said there are a lot of discussions going on with the EDC, Marine Sciences Laboratory, City of Port Angeles, the port, the college and others about what strategies can be used to move forward renewable energy.
EDC and economic brainpower
Tue, Jun 14, 2011
Economic Development: Olympic Medical Center
Wed, Jun 1, 2011
A closer look at our region’s economic development
Wed, Apr 20, 2011
The ‘next level’ a step up?
Wed, Mar 16, 2011
Tue, Feb 15, 2011
Criminalizing mental health, Part 2
Wed, Jan 26, 2011
Criminalizing mental health, Part I
Wed, Jan 19, 2011
Don't lose sight of the big picture
Wed, Dec 15, 2010
Sequim's haves and have-nots
Wed, Nov 17, 2010
A too silent majority
Tue, Oct 19, 2010
Time for our government to think 'out of the box'
Thu, Aug 19, 2010
Prepare your home, family for emergencies
Wed, Jun 16, 2010
The unsung heroes of dispatching
Wed, May 19, 2010
Thanks, pards, for the help
Wed, Apr 21, 2010
Childhood ends with sex abuse
Wed, Mar 17, 2010
Enforcing little laws prevents big crimes
Wed, Feb 3, 2010
Junkies wanted more ways than 1
Wed, Jan 6, 2010
Season starts with a nasty Spirit of Theft
Wed, Dec 2, 2009
Every community's dirty little secret
Wed, Nov 4, 2009