Kittitas County (WA) – Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy

ChallengeThe Economic Development Group of Kittitas County (EDG) engaged Austin-based TIP Strategies (TIP) to prepare a Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) for the county. The purpose of the plan is to help the EDG understand their competitive position and to coalesce around a vision for promoting the region. This vision will capitalize on strategic niches for industry and talent recruitment, business retention and expansion, and recreational tourism promotion.

ApproachTIP developed a comprehensive economic development strategy involving input from a broad cross-section of citizens and interest groups in the county. The TIP team conducted focus groups and interviews from a wide variety of economic and community groups from upper Kittitas to Ellensburg to lower Kittitas. The plan included strategies and actions for capitalizing on the county’s core economic development assets, including tourism and recreation, agriculture, Central Washington University, and alternative energy. It also presented a toolkit for conducting baseline activities such as business retention and expansion, business recruitment, marketing, professional services sector development, and talent development.

OutcomeThe plan was submitted to the Washington State Department of Community, Trade & Economic Development in July 2009 to satisfy the EDG’s obligations as Kittitas County’s associate development organization (ADO). In addition to meeting state ADO requirements, completion of the CEDS allows the county to position itself for additional federal economic development funding. In addition, as a result of a TIP recommendation, the EDG and the county’s chambers of commerce are pursuing a formal merger to create a countywide chamber responsible for all economic and business development functions in Kittitas County. The purpose of the merger is to pool scarce resources and eliminate duplicative efforts.

TIP Contact Jon Roberts

Davidson Building, Photo credit Walter Smith