By DEAN A. RADFORD
Lynn Wallace sees hopeful signs in the local business community that she tends as CEO and president of the Southwest King County Chamber of Commerce.
The veteran of chamber work has held the post for slightly more than a year, arriving in April 2011 when the recession still had a lingering grip on the local economy.
Today, high gases prices don’t help the bottom line, and, she says, the economic uncertainty weighs heavily on business owners.
“But I think there is a slight steady increase in the economic outlook right now,” she said.
Still there is caution, with businesses owners “testing the waters,” wary of major moves such as hiring employees or expanding, she said. “They don’t want to slip backward,” she said.
She’s bullish about the chamber, too, that brings together and promotes the member businesses from Tukwila, SeaTac, Burien and Des Moines.
The chamber has about 380 members today and hopes to grow that number to more than 400 by year’s end, she said.
“A very large component of what we do is building the membership and providing programs for the members,” she said.
About a third of the chamber’s members are Tukwila businesses, followed by Burien with 20 percent, SeaTac with 17 percent, Des Moines with 7 percent and the remaining 22 percent from other areas.
The cities are a team, not competitors, she said, working together to draw new businesses to the region and to advocate for the idea of “buy local.” The idea is to compete as a region against other regions as partners, she said.
“They don’t try to poach within their own backyards,” she said.
Each city brings it own strengths to the table: Tukwila its retail and industry (including Boeing), SeaTac its airport, Des Moines its waterfront and Burien its “great downtown,” she said.
So what is Tukwila’s strongest business advantage? Location, location, location, she answers.
Tukwila is a regional transportation hub, with two major airports nearby, rail service and three major freeways.
And Southcenter is a “major attraction,” she says, drawing customers from all over the region who might also stop at a small business in Tukwila to make a deal.
“The smaller businesses can take advantage of that,” she said.