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Snohomish County forms economic task force to help businesses, workers

Business boarded up in Everett. (KIRO Radio)

Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers and County Council Chair Nate Nehring have established an Economic and Workforce Recovery Task Force to help local businesses and workers impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

“I think it’s really critical that we put a strategy and plan in place in order to support our businesses and our workers throughout this economic recovery, and that’s what this task force will be doing” Nehring told KTTH’s Jason Rantz Show. ” … The idea is to bring together folks from the private sector to come up with strategies and a plan that we can all work toward in assisting our businesses and workers.”

This issue is wide ranging, covering impacted companies from restaurants to Boeing.

Nehring said the task force is up to the challenge of figuring out what can be done with the resources at the local level to help all industries, aside from what’s being done at the federal and state levels.

“What we’re doing here is we’re bringing together folks in the private sector to come in and say, ‘here’s how you can help, here’s how the public sector can help,'” Nehring said. “The private sector and public sector can come together to really make a difference here and and move forward in this economic recovery. And so that’s what we hope to do over the next several months and and potentially years.”

Nehring views unemployment as a big issue in Snohomish County, as one of the hardest hit counties in the state in terms of number of layoffs and general unemployment.

“I think one of my biggest goals that I hope that we can accomplish together through this task force with both the public and private sector is connecting folks who have been laid off or are unemployed, back to employment,” he said. “[We’ll] be bringing in folks from the private sector to help provide some guidance on that.”

At the local level, there are a number of restrictions in terms of attracting and growing jobs and businesses. The county can’t offer incentives, for example.

“Those sorts of things have to come from the state or the federal level,” he said. ” … Maybe something that comes out of this task force is we put together a legislative proposal that we take to Olympia in the next session.”

When businesses are trying to hang on to capital to keep people employed, Rantz pointed out that tax breaks or a tax cut can go a long way, though maybe unlikely in the state of Washington.

“I’m sure there will be creative solutions that are proposed, … I think it would be nice if people can put politics aside and rally around what’s best for our communities and our workers and our businesses during this time,”Nehring said. “Whether it’s a tax break or some other kind of incentive, we’ve got to be taking creative steps to get our businesses back to where they were and get people back into employment because that benefits all of us.

At the time of publication, Snohomish County is reporting 1,659 confirmed coronavirus cases and 61 deaths, the second highest counts for a single county behind King County.

Listen to the Jason Rantz Show weekday afternoons from 3 – 6 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (or HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here.

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