Weekly Reader

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Economic Development
The CWCOG’s summer Funding and Learning Opportunities Newsletter will go out July 6. Go to CWCOG.org to access the publication. This issue includes some resources on the grant writing skills and resources.

Here are a couple of articles on Broadband. The first is from govtech.com. In 2015, the Federal Communications Commission changed the definition of broadband in response to growing Internet demands. Experts differ on whether the COVID-19 crisis calls for another definition change in 2020. The current definition, 25 Mbps download speed/3 Mbps upload speed, was set by the Federal Communications Commission, led by former FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, in 2015. In an official statement, Wheeler noted that the previous standard, 4 Mbps/1 Mbps, had been established in 2010 and that “consumer behavior and the marketplace has changed.” The second is a story about the call for federal investments in broadband.

Self-employed workers in states where businesses are hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic are more likely to face economic hardships, according to new findings from the U.S. Census Bureau’s experimental Household and Small Business Pulse surveys. Click here for the US Census Bureau Pulse survey report.

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics the “Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 4.8 million in June, and the unemployment rate declined to 11.1 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. These improvements in the labor market reflected the continued resumption of economic activity that had been curtailed in March and April due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and efforts to contain it. In June, employment in leisure and hospitality rose sharply. Notable job gains also occurred in retail trade, education and health services, other services, manufacturing, and professional and business services.“ Click here for the full news release.

I recently had the opportunity to listen in on a discussion titled, Black Lives Matter in Economic Development. The speakers provided some great thought on the issues of equity and opportunity. Anatalio Ubalde, CEO of GIS planning Inc. provided the introduction to the group discussion based on demographics from his blog on the same topic that can be found here. A few facts from his overview are included below. The video presentation can be viewed here.

Racial disparity in income exists across the country. Median White households make $70,000 compared to Black households that make only $41,000. (Source: US Census ACS 2018). This fact contributes to the inability to accumulate wealth.

Transportation
Emerging technologies such as electric vehicles (EVs) and connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs) will affect the regional transportation system and it is important to plan now to meet future needs created by technological changes. A primary reason for the CWCOG’s effort to create an Electric Vehicle Readiness and Connected and Autonomous Vehicle Plan is to create a resource for future discussions and collaboration to help the region begin to address emerging technologies on a regional level. This plan does not propose any new regional policies or strategies, but parts of this work will inform future policy development during the next update to the Regional Transportation Plan (RTP). Click here to access a copy of the plan.

CWCOG convened a virtual Regional Freight Advisory Committee meeting on June 24th with 28 people in attendance representing cities, counties, port districts, state DOTs, the Federal Highway Administration, freight advocacy organizations, and private businesses. This year was the fourth Freight Advisory Committee meeting and had the second highest number of attendees. The meeting provided a venue to learn more about the trucking industry and its significant influence on the economy as well as challenges for the industry both before, during, and after COVID-19. Trucking continues to face challenges from traffic congestion to a shortage of truck drivers and truck parking locations. The trucking industry is driven by economic activity and depending on the sector served, truck fleets are thriving or struggling with a high potential for failure. We can help the trucking industry to recover by understanding the challenges, working to provide more truck parking and access to services, and by showing our appreciation for drivers. Attendees also heard about activities WSDOT Freight, Rail, and Ports Division has been engaged in recently. Most notably, WSDOT shared a new online web map published to display the 2019 update to the Freight and Goods Transportation System. Check out this new web map here.

Community Development / Other
Census – The State of Washington has hit its 2010 mail back response rate of 67.2%! Only 32.8% more households that need to respond – and 123 more days to go! Thanks for your ongoing efforts to get the word out about the 2020 Census.

I attended a webinar on the Washington 10-year Plan to Reduce Poverty & Inequality this week. Might be worth a quick scan to become familiar with this effort.

Here is a clip from the ICMA – “Local government teams have been forced to adjust to this new way to work with teams spread out and communication lines connected through video conferencing and phone calls. For some teams, this has been an easier transition than for others. Since we don’t know exactly how long this new work style will be in place, it’s important to have the tools you need to make working remotely really work across your team, whether for the next month, three months, or beyond. Here are three ways to maximize your efficiency within your team and through the services you offer to your community.

COVID-19
Washington state has purchased 3.6 million cloth face masks for every person in Washington below 200% of the federal poverty level (a family of four earning $52,400 or less). Local emergency management programs, are working with various community organizations and service providers to deliver them to people who need them. Click here for more information.