External Review of Permitting Processes, Phase Three
Executive Summary The Lewis County area is economically challenged by unemployment, underemployment and generational poverty. Community leaders and community members are seeking ways to improve the economic health of the area in order to improve the overall quality of life. One possible approach is to leverage the cheaper land and lower development costs to encourage new businesses to locate here. This benefits the community in multiple ways – new jobs, additional tax revenue, and construction acts as an economic kick-3starter for a local economy. A group of community leaders involved in economic development views the permitting processes of the three largest jurisdictions (Cities of Centralia and Chehalis and Lewis County) as vital components to this work. When the lower development costs are combined with a healthy and effective permitting system, it translates to a competitive advantage for this area that can encourage businesses to invest in our area. As with any process improvement effort, the voice of the customer is a key component to identifying where to invest resources for improvement. This project, sponsored by five community organizations, reviewed the customer experience from hundreds of customers, through focus groups, interviews and a survey. This report provides a summary of the customer feedback, and compares the current state to phase two of this project, conducted in 2009. This Is a (Mostly) Good News Story Customer satisfaction with all three jurisdictions is high. The County is to be commended for their improvement over the years in the area of customer satisfaction. Both Cities have sustained good levels of customer satisfaction. Many people shared that they like working in Lewis County and that they can build positive working relationships with the government representatives. They find that the process and regulations here are less onerous than in other places. This report shares many of these positive experiences, and the quantitative results from the survey reflect an overall positive situation. Here are some of the positive themes that emerged:
Major opportunities for encouraging new business exist and can be capitalized on.
There is a shared understanding of what a “business-friendly” process is: fair, transparent, predictable and reasonable. No one had unreasonable expectations for what the government agencies should be doing. October 2016