On March 8, the Lakewood City Council received the City’s 2020 Business Retention & Expansion (BR&E) Report.
City of Lakewood Economic Development Department ramped up its efforts on outreach to local businesses and collaboration with Puget Sound and State partners in 2021 due to the coronavirus epidemic and disruption in the market. It was a difficult year for all businesses, whether they were ramping up to meet unprecedented demand or struggling to keep their doors open, and to serve clients.
“The impacts have been varied,” stated Economic Development Manager Becky Newton. “While retail sales tax revenue has flattened, there is still demand in the market for local goods and services. On the other hand, shuttered events centers, hotels, restaurants, training facilities, health care, and other services are still experiencing massive changes and are trying to adjust. Mental health and workforce are critical issues, and state imposed regulations and restrictions have been challenging.”
The report anticipates that more businesses will close due to the restrictions and that economic recovery will be mixed. Some industries are expanding rapidly and/or anticipating an immediate recovery, while others see more than a five-year recovery period ahead. True recovery for the local economy will not occur until Lakewood and Pierce County fully reopen as part of the Safe Start Washington plan.
Lakewood’s retail sales in 2019 increased by 10% in 2019, but flattened to 2% in 2020. Unemployment was at 17.7% in April 2020, but had dropped to 8.3% in December 2020. While economic recovery could take five years for some industries, development permitting is up substantially for Lakewood, and is expected to continue to trend up.
The City engaged in extensive BRE outreach in 2020, notwithstanding COVID, and connected with 127 businesses representing over 9,900 jobs in Lakewood.
“The City also conducted two surveys of businesses to track ongoing needs as well as to identify specific effects of COVID-19 on business viability,” stated Ms. Newton. “53% of businesses listed COVID restrictions as their biggest challenge; the second highest category was workforce management at 19%”
The full Lakewood 2020 BR&E is available at cityoflakewood.us/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/2021-03-08-Council-Agenda.pdf