The Voice for Industry
July 31, 2008
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Regional Economy Still Building

In 2007, new construction in King County was valued at a walloping $6.6 billion by the King County Assessor – a new record.

And, what's the state of new construction in the foreclosure-festooned turmoil of 2008?

Surprisingly enough, it is following the record pace of 2007, according to King County Assessor Scott Noble. There is even a chance it will set a new record. "It may just be guys finishing up projects, but bottom line, there are still cranes in the air and bricks going up," Noble said.

The assessor gathers new construction data by the end of August ever year so local government jurisdictions can estimate the property tax revenues they'll collect the following year.

But, this year the new construction data is also timely in gauging how we're doing in the context of national trends for inflation, gas prices, Obama vs. McCain, the future of US auto makers, End of Western Civilization, etc.

Seattle Industry recently reported that western Washington manufacturing continues to score much higher than the national average in the monthly survey of purchasing agents conducted by the National Institute for Supply Management. The ISM index is based on the number 50. Numbers higher than 50 show growth while lower numbers suggest contraction.

Our regional score so far for the summer is a robust 62+ compared to 50 for the nation. But, further research shows this bulge does not just reflect present conditions. If you look back at the monthly survey results for the past six years, it reveals that our favorable gap began to spread at the start of 2004 and the gulf has continued ever since (see chart).

If you possess a good memory, the glowing report from early 2004 should seem out of whack because that period coincided with the low point of a steep Boeing slump in which Washington state aircraft manufacturing revenue and jobs dropped for three straight years. Normally, this type of decline should have dragged our regional manufacturing performance underwater. Instead, our manufacturing profile was positively buoyant.

But, this mystery can be solved thanks to the Northwest Industrial Index, the Seattle Industry research program for tracking the state's industrial base.

The NWII reveals that sales of Washington wood products jumped nearly 20% in 2004 along with all other construction-related manufacturing sectors, because we enjoyed a significant regional dividend from the nationwide building boom that was sparked, in part, by specious lending practices resulting in the subprime scandal.

Feel guilty about our subprime payoff if you want to, but growth in wood products and related sectors kept state manufacturing revenues high enough to make up for the depth of the Boeing slump.

Because so many Washington wood product companies serve the national market, the wood product growth curve slowed at the same time countrywide construction did. But by then the Boeing rebound was underway and our manufacturing profile was also buffed up by rising revenues from state petroleum production and growth by export-oriented companies engaged in machine manufacturing, metal fabricating and other aspects of the metal trades.

What's it all mean? Other than "so far, so good," we don't pretend to know. It's hard to feel good given the impact of rising energy costs. But, if our continued good news amounts to whistling in the graveyard, at least many of us are whistling a happy tune as the summer days roll on.

SI Goes Green
The next issue of the Seattle Industry magazine is in production. Now is the time to put your advertising dollars to work! Our theme is Green...the green industrial economy, greening your industrial operation, and learning more about green collar job opportunities. The magazine will be published in September just ahead of the Green Industrial and Career Expo on October 10. Contact Marilyn Young Skogland (206-762-2470 or to reserve your advertising space.

Annual Berry Sale 2008 by the Rotary Club of SODO
FRESH blueberries from beautiful Mount Vernon, WA picked the day before, cleaned & packed whole then transported by local Rotarians to our community.

Ready for pies, canning, jam or freezing enjoy year-round, still tastes like summer, flavor. You can't beat their freshness! And you'll be supporting the good works done by this service club year round.

Order your 10 LB boxes for $42. Place your order by August 5, 2008. Only pre-orders are guaranteed. Contact us at Berries will be available on Friday, August 8, 2008 in front of Western Neon at 1st S & S Lander.

Business after Hours - Change the Date!
The Port of Seattle Business After Hours, hosted for the Manufacturing Industrial Council, SODO Business Association and West Seattle Chamber of Commerce, date has changed.

Please join your Port for an evening of fun in the park featuring appetizers and hosted beverages.
Date: Thursday, August 21, 2008
Time: 5:30-7:30 PM
Place: Jack Block Park - 2130 Harbor Ave SW (Just south of Salty's on Alki)
Parking: Plenty of parking in the park
RSVP: By Monday, August 18th to 206-728-3449

520 Bridge Tolling Open Houses
At July 23rd's public meeting of the 520 Tolling Implementation Committee, the Committee announced four possible tolling scenarios, and discussed the possible revenue that each scenario could raise to rebuild and maintain the SR 520 bridge. The Committee is launching a series of five public open houses to gather public feedback on these tolling scenarios, which could impact I-90, SR 522, and other major roadways in the area. For more information, including the scenario results presented at the July 23rd meeting, you can visit the Tolling Implementation Committee website at
See the postcard for dates and times.

Bridge-closure reminder

Complying with Federal Aviation Administration rules, the state Department of Transportation will close all lanes of the Interstate 90 floating bridge across Lake Washington for a few hours Thursday through Sunday while the Navy's Blue Angels squadron jets are aloft for practices and weekend air shows for Seafair.

Thursday, the bridge will be closed from 10 a.m. to noon and from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. On Friday, Saturday and Sunday, the bridge will be closed from 12:45 to 2:40 p.m.

The express lanes will close at 9 a.m. Thursday, and 9:45 a.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Also, the bridge will be closed to pedestrians and bicyclists up to 30 minutes before posted closure times.

No stopping or parking will be allowed on the I-90 bridge or Highway 520's Evergreen Point Floating Bridge during Blue Angels practices or performances.


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