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Sun04202014

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David Madore launches county marketing campaign

Less Red Tape More Green Light book coverWelcome mat. Open door. Green light. These are the types of phrases that Clark County Commissioner David Madore wants businesses to associate with the county – both businesses already here and looking to expand, and businesses looking for a new home. To this end, Madore is in the process of launching an initiative to aggressively market Clark County throughout the West Coast.

“It’s about opening the flood gates to local private jobs and revving up the economic engine, which is small business,” said Madore.

Madore’s initiative springboards off the job creation resolution enacted by the board of commissioners in June, which waived development and traffic impact fees for certain types of commercial projects. According to Madore, the fee waiver and a concentrated effort to market Clark County to prospective businesses, is long past due.

“We need to change course because people are hurting,” said Madore. “Too many people are out of work, and have been for too long. Too many people have already lost their home or lost their business.”

Madore acknowledges that not everyone in the county thinks the fee waiver is a good idea; some fear that it may curtail county revenue. He countered this argument, stating that development fees account for less than 1 percent of the total county budget, and traffic impact fees contribute only 1 to 3 percent to the county’s road fund.

“Yet that small percentage is turning away the vast majority of businesses,” lamented Madore. “We confiscate their startup cash and set them up for failure.”

He added that Washington is the number two state for business failures, and the primary reason is insufficient startup cash.

The bulk of county revenue, Madore said, comes from month-to-month ongoing revenue such as sales tax. According to Madore, “sustainable growth happens when a business gets launched then pays sales tax revenue. You get much more in the long run.”

Besides the fee waiver, Madore’s marketing initiative also leverages the county’s efforts to streamline the permit process.

“The goal is not to make customers jump through hoops, but to get them out the door,” said Madore.

Madore believes that the fee waiver and ongoing efforts to improve the permitting process make Clark County “the most business-friendly community on the West Coast.”

With the message clearly defined, he is now poised to focus on delivering that message.

He hopes to expand and redefine the role of the county’s Public Information Office to focus more on marketing the county’s message to business prospects. He also mentioned other entities that could help “get the word out,” such as the Columbia River Economic Development Council (CREDC), local chambers of commerce, the Vancouver Tourism Board and local nonprofits.

Officials at the CREDC, Greater Vancouver Chamber of Commerce and tourism board were unavailable for comment on the marketing initiative at press time.

Meanwhile, Madore said he is in the process of forming a 501(3c) called ProsperAndThrive.org. He intends to print flyers and put them in the local newspapers, and develop a web presence.

“Many people are assuming it is not the time or the place to start your own business because they don’t know the atmosphere has changed,” said Madore. “I care about our community and pledge myself to lead the example. I’ll be one of the key funders for this program.”