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County Executive says sports arena proposal has many issues

By ROBERT WHALE

rwhale@auburn-reporter.com


Getting people up and working again in a down economy remains King
County's top priority.
Such was King County Executive Dow Constantine's message to the
Auburn-Area Chamber of Commerce Luncheon on Monday at Emerald Downs.
Now there is a bright spot, Constantine said, because things in the
Seattle Metropolitan area, which includes Auburn and Kent, are
starting to perk up.
Quoting numbers compiled by the National Bureau of Labor Statistics,
Constantine said that the three-county metropolitan area in 2011
showed the ninth-highest job gains of the 100th largest metropolitan
areas in the nation. Collectively, Dow said, the largest metropolitan
areas in the nation added about one million jobs last year.
Constantine went on to cite a recent study of 366 metropolitan areas
throughout the nation that gave the Seattle metropolitan area a
third-place ranking as the strongest local economy based on sustained
growth over the past 20 years.
The Puget Sound region, Constantine said, has led the revival,
especially in the manufacturing sector.
Indeed, he said, over the past year this region has led the nation in
manufacturing job creation, showing an increase of 7.3 percent, or
12,600 jobs.
Accounting for "fully half of that growth," Constantine said, and led
by the Boeing company, was the manufacturing sector.
Constantine praised the work of the King County Aerospace Alliance, a
broad-based partnership of local jurisdictions, chambers of commerce,
the Port of Seattle, local economic development groups and educational
institutions like school districts and universities for working to
expand and prosper the aerospace industry in the Puget Sound Region.
"Here in King County … we've been able to maintain the kind of access
to a middle-class future that has been really the foundation of the
American dream," Constantine said.
Constantine said that one of his goals is to make access to higher
education a priority, so that when the Boeing Company or Microsoft
look for people to fill high-paying jobs, recruiters won't have to go
halfway around the world to find qualified people.
The state of Washington, Constantine said, is creating 850 new slots
for engineering students at the University of Washington and
Washington State University. The King County Workforce Development
Council has awarded $900,000 to community and technical colleges to
provide certificated training for specific skills needed by the Boeing
Company and aerospace suppliers.
Constantine noted that he and King County Councilmember Bob Ferguson
have recently proposed to put about $2 million from the Veterans and
Community Services levy into a new aerospace and veteran employment
training initiative.
"It's a two-year program from Work Source Renton that helps veterans
returning from Iraq and Afghanistan transfer the skills they have
learned in the military into good paying jobs in the aerospace
industry," Constantine said.
Constantine praised the City of Auburn's new Innovation Partnership
Zone designation, which puts research, workforce training and private
sector participation in close proximity to promote collaboration,
which can lead to new technologies, products and companies.
A woman from the audience asked Constantine to assess the impact on
the Port of Seattle of bringing an 18,000-seat capacity basketball
stadium into Seattle's SODO district, where baseball and football
stadiums already exist.
"The transportation impacts would be mostly after the time the Port of
Seattle is closed at 4:30 p.m.," Constantine said. "Most of the games
there would in the evening. There are challenges today, and they have
not been properly addressed. One is freight getting to and from the
Port. The second is the more diffuse problem of warehousing and
manufacturing businesses trying to move their goods around, and then
commuters coming through…
"The new arena would marginally worsen those problems, but would not
be the difference between night and day. What we need to do is to
address the challenges we have now, and by so doing we would address
issues attached to having a new basketball arena," Constantine said.
Constantine noted that with the economic collapse, the recent spate of
annexations and the passage of initiatives there is virtually no money
to spare for road maintenance or construction.
"We've dropped many, many hundreds of roads employees, and that means
that a lot of secondary roads in the rural areas are not getting
appropriate maintenance … There's not enough road funding inside of
our cities either. So we are looking to the state, collectively, for
some kind of help in getting a system of funding that appropriately
addresses the infrastructure that our grandparents built for us and
that we have a responsibility to maintain," Constantine said.

The Auburn Reporter is a sister publication of the Mercer Island Reporter. Both are part of Sound Publishing, Inc.


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