We Help Companies with Marketing

Creekside Consulting (Mark Mitchell), a provider of interim CFO and COO services in the Pacific Northwest, recently contracted with Toyer Strategic to produce a series of three direct mail marketing pieces for distribution to existing and prospective clients.  Here’s what Mark had to say:

“I’ve been following what Toyer Strategic does for direct mail marketing and wanted to mix up what I’ve been doing for Creekside Consulting. After a couple of conversations with David about my business, he and his team developed and presented several designs. I liked their ideas have ordered a series of three marketing pieces that will be distributed to clients and prospective clients. I was impressed with the process, quality of work and quick turnaround. I plan to continue working with the Toyer Strategic marketing team.”

Check out more client testimonials

Project Update: City of Pacific WA

Toyer Strategic Consulting has completed the Phase I of a two phase business retention and expansion project for the City of Pacific and Port of Seattle.  The Phase I inventory discusses our methods for data collection, and categories and analyzes the types of existing businesses within Pacific’s corporate limits.  Phase II of the project (now underway) involves distribution of a general business survey and completion of business retention and expansion (BRE) visits.

Check out the Phase I report:

Phase I Business Inventory for City of Pacific

Plan for Success in 2019

Soon summer will be over and you’ll start planning your annual executive, council or organization retreat.  You’ll analyze your business, organization or community and carefully put together a budget and a plan for 2019.

But, is planning the same way you did last year going to yield better results?

Yes, if you avoid these common mistakes:

  1. Too Much Optimism. No one wants to be negative. And unless self appointed to the role of ‘contrarian’ no employee, board member or council person wants that title. But, if you go through a planning process where none of your conversations dive into uncomfortable territory or produced thoughtful disagreement, then you’ve got problems. Inevitably there are some sacred cows holding you back. To be truly successful, both the good and the bad have to be on the table and everyone has to be empowered and prepared to state the obvious. No pain, no gain.
  2. Cruise Control.  Like comfy pants that make you feel good or cruise control in your car, goal setting can default to what’s easy, reliable or comfortable.  But, comfortable doesn’t get you better, bigger or bolder. This year it’s time to stretch.  Set goals that you may not accomplish, but still make you look good for trying.
  3. Rephrase, Rearrange, Repeat. Your 2019 plan shouldn’t be an extension of your 2018 plan, which was an extension of your 2017 plan? When you’re planning, you should be able to look back at the plans from the last several years and see that your not stuck in the same spot.  This can help the discussion as you can often see that while you may have fallen short of a goal last year, you’ve still grown.
  4. Your Budget is Not Your Plan. Do you need a plan? Yes. Do you need a budget? Absolutely. Is a budget a plan? Not even close.  Budgets are based on a conservative picture of what could happen.  And budgets can be inflexible.  By contrast, plans shouldn’t be as conservative and they should be adaptable to changing conditions.  Tracking a line item budget month to month doesn’t measure progress, it measures restraint.

Want to accelerate your growth next year?  Contact us to facilitate your next company, organization or community retreat.

Pacific Retains Toyer for Economic Development Project

The City of Pacific, Washington has retained Toyer Strategic Consulting (TSC) to complete an economic development project funded by the City and a grant from the Port of Seattle.

Under the project scope TSC will identify, categorize and visit key employers within the community.  A final consultant report and business retention and expansion (BRE) program recommendations are due to the City and Port no later than November 1st of this year.

“We are excited to work with the City of Pacific and support their existing businesses,” said David Toyer, owner of Toyer Strategic.  “Pacific is an especially unique location in Washington State, supporting jointly with the City of Sumner one of nine ‘manufacturing industrial centers’ that could yield up to 2,100 acres of new industrial development along the SR 167 corridor.”

About Pacific
Located 28 miles south of downtown Seattle, Pacific is split between King and Pierce counties and has a 2017 population estimate of 7,184.

The cities of Pacific and Sumner were provisionally designated a manufacturing industrial center (MIC) in 2016 by the Puget Sound Regional Council (PSRC) pending completion of a MIC subarea plan expected later this year.

What Economic Developers Should Learn from Seattle’s Head Tax

It’s been a little over a week since the City of Seattle voted unanimously to enact a $275 per employee tax on it’s for profit businesses grossing more than $20 million per year in the City – expected to raise around $48 million in new tax revenue that the City indicates it will spend on homelessness.

Leading up to the decision, the business community tried to send Seattle a message. Amazon, who many other communities around the country are pursuing with vigor, paused construction and discussed not creating up to 8,000 additional jobs. In the days since, Pierce County (neighbor to the south) and its cities have since announced a $275 per employee incentive per year for five years in addition to up to $1,500 per year in incentives that businesses creating at least 5 jobs can already claim.

The decision in Seattle has been made subject to the success of any referendum to repeal it. However, are there lessons from Seattle that businesses, economic developers and even cities can glean from this? Yes. Here are my top five.

  1. Be prepared to defend economic development decisions. Collectively, we want jobs. . . better jobs. . . jobs for our kids. . . etc. And elected officials know that and usually campaign on things like low unemployment and higher wages. Despite the fact that creating jobs is still the political will in most communities, those winds can swiftly change. Typically, this happens when an incentive package is viewed as being too rich or the intensity of growth in a specific location enlists a greater negative public response than the positive attitude associated with jobs. Every economic development project should prepare and have ready an economic impact analysis and/or a return on investment statement that show how that activity benefits a community. More and more this is becoming critical to not only sell elected officials on the benefit of economic development, but to give the public confidence it is in their best interest as well.
  2. Include political due diligence in any site location decision. Businesses base site location decisions on a combination of factors including site development costs, logistics, operational cost factors, tax liabilities and a judgement as to whether the incentives offered can be delivered as promised. Additionally, they will look at the current political situation, but they often stop short of fully assessing the local political history of the community or evaluating future political risks. These risks come from natural cycles at the local level which are tied into the leadership of the community, the health of the community and the amount of growth it may have already embraced. I’ve written a previous blog about this topic which goes into more detail here.
  3. Know the facts and be honest about them. It appears from some reporting that misinformation about the cost of homelessness in Seattle may have been circulated and used a justification for the adoption of the head tax. Unfortunately, misinformation spreads immeasurably fast these, which justifies the attention to detail that economic developers need when it comes to attracting new economic development projects and putting the deal together. Often, I’ve seen how easy it is for a city to say, “Yes, we can do that” only to realize they can’t. I’ve also seen examples like that of a community that touted its available water capacity as the basis for attracting an economic development project. But after some digging into the details, the capacity was only ‘on-paper’ – the water could be produced but couldn’t be distributed. One solution to ensure accuracy for all is the use of third party site certification. However, even site certification has its challenges, which I discuss here.
  4. It’s not good business ‘poaching’ businesses from your neighbors. There is a difference between a business deciding it is in their advantage (lower rents, closer to customers, etc.) to relocate from one community to an adjacent community and the instance where a neighboring community acts to lure businesses. The latter creates negative competition and distrust locally. Moreover, when the gloves come off and incentives are involved it can often raise to the level of being addressed by a state legislature, which often results in further restrictions on the right kinds of economic development activities.
  5. Be aware that policies like “Growth Management” lead to future political, social and economic challenges that place business and economic development in the center of debate. One of greatest challenges in the greater Seattle area is its complex state growth management laws restrict nearly all development to within defined urban growth boundaries that have not had any significant revisions since established in the early ‘90s. Well intended in vision, this governing regulatory approach has some critical flaws in implementation. For example, the “density” first approach to accommodating future population and job growth in the Puget Sound region has driven up the costs of housing, construction and infrastructure because vacant land supply is critically low, and redevelopment built-out areas to higher intensity uses adds expense. Unfortunately, expanded growth boundaries aren’t expected soon. Second, the reality is that investments in infrastructure to support growth have very rarely been made prior to and in full knowledge of the growth occurring, relying on a “growth should pay for itself” philosophy that clashes with legal requirements that a development only pay its fair share. Even mitigation collected from development has six years to be spent. It’s no wonder there is public outcry. This disconnect has left cities in the position of always playing catch up on infrastructure, services and capacity

It will be awhile before we know the true impact of Seattle’s head tax. But what is clear is that it has broad implications on economic development – implications that may not be the solutions advertised.

About the Author
David Toyer is the founder of Toyer Strategic Consulting – a firm that advises businesses and communities on economic development and land use. David has nearly two decades of experience and has worked on projects throughout the country. For more information about David Toyer or Toyer Strategic Consulting, visit www.toyerstrategic.com.