TEC Plans to Continue Programs Despite Setbacks

“With no federal funding designated for Strategic Planning Communities like the Tacoma area, the organizations that were to administer them are having to become creative to survive.The Tacoma Empowerment Consortium was to have coordinated the SPC initiative in this area, involving parts of the cities of Tacoma and Lakewood, the Puyallup Tribal Lands, and parts of unincorporated Pierce County. The initiative was to expand geographically the economic and community development programs the TEC had been administering through an earlier designation of part of Tacoma as an Enterprise Community.But yesterdays signed HUD budget leaves the TEC with a budget that will provide funds only through February 2000, according to Shirl Gilbert II, TEC’s executive director.“Our effort will be to continue to maintain the services of TEC through the third round [of Empowerment Zone funding], but it may go into a new phase where the TEC will be operated out of other agencies,” Gilbert said.Gilbert said the board of directors for TEC met earlier in the week and were aware that funding might not be forthcoming. All wanted the agency to continue, Gilbert said. Programs like TacomaWorks, a jobs initiative, may continue through partnering organizations TEC works with under the EC designation.“We set out to sustain delivery of these services, and we intend to continue to deliver services through our partners,” Gilbert said.Gilbert added that the economic development tools granted the EC area, including tax incentives and credits for businesses, will continue for another five years. The International Services Delivery Zone designation is also available to help boost business development. And the TEC is still working on job-creating projects similar to what they have done with Total Renal Care in downtown Tacoma.The TEC is involved with bringing a boutique hotel to the Chopsticks Building in downtown Tacoma. The payoff, Gilbert added, is additional jobs.“We will create jobs using these economic tools,” Gilbert said. “Our role is to create jobs and put people in them.”Gilbert said he is determined to continue the effectiveness of the TEC despite this latest setback.“While we don’t have a direct [SPC] grant, we still have ways to raise money,” Gilbert said. “I’ve got to be creative and innovative. We’ve got a good board that wants to work around it despite this bad news.””