Keep our county open for business, employment and financial stability
9:16 am May 2nd, 2013
Pierce County Councilman Jim McCune says James Hardie Co.’s plans for expansion will benefit the local economy.
By Jim McCune
Thank you for this opportunity to respond to an op-ed written by a Mr. Josh Magill in the April 17 issue (“County road closure makes some sense, so why not explain it better?”). Before addressing his assertions, I would first like to establish that I have never met the man, nor have I ever received from him a phone call or written correspondence (my son told me he wrote something on Facebook). Perhaps he confused me with a federal representative.
Regardless, I can empathize with his many concerns, particularly his feeling that he wasn’t informed about the recent business plans of the James Hardie Company in Frederickson. It’s a challenge for any resident to track their own daily schedules and budgets, let alone the multitudes of meetings and mandates by federal, state, county and local governments.
I was invited to visit the James Hardie plant Jan. 30 to see their operation. At that time, they explained their idea to expand. Please note the word idea. Before the company could proceed with that idea, they had to know if it was possible to vacate a portion of 180th Street East, lest they be wasting everyone’s time. After their presentation, I was asked if their idea for future expansion was something I could support. My reply was of course, “Yes, provided proper notifications and consideration of the community’s input were also on the table.” Public notification and input happens to be a government mandate, so my concern was automatically addressed.
Mr. Magill seemed to be under the impression that I had some kind of inside scoop on the expansion plans of a private business and should have been focused on communicating them to constituents. I have learned that it is not wise to try and inform anyone about a potential project when there are more questions than answers. All I knew was that James Hardie needed to expand and they needed to know if part of 180th could be vacated.
It is helpful to understand the process for public notification. Frederickson was zoned to accommodate commercial industry, so expanding the industry was not unusual, but vacating the road was. I was willing to sponsor a resolution to initiate a study of the potential effects of the road closure. The next step will be to introduce an ordinance to legally close and vacate the road. At such time, signs are posted and notices are sent to affected property owners and public agencies. For a more detailed explanation of these processes, please visit www.co.pierce.wa.us/180thclosure. I can assure you that there is ample time and opportunity for interested parties to express their views.
I was pleased to read that Mr. Magill believes the project is a good idea. The James Hardie Company invited the neighborhood, the Frederickson-Clover Creek Community Council and elected representatives and staff to an informal gathering at their office to present an overview of their ideas for expansion. If Mr. Magill attended, he didn’t identify himself. After listening to the presentation, the audience’s reaction was overwhelmingly positive, and they welcomed the expansion knowing that their concerns were heard and addressed, particularly for an emergency turnaround or cul-de-sac, plans for public access alternatives and relocating utilities.
In a nutshell, the expansion will add a projected 100 jobs with great benefits, high wages and bonuses, create construction jobs, increase home sales.
• Spur sales for home-improvement projects, improve the tax base for needed services, increase sales to vendors who supply their raw materials, etc. The taxpayer is not subsidizing this project.
Mr. Magill spent a good deal of his article citing corporate social responsibility, suggesting that James Hardie and the other area businesses give back to the community. Already, these companies contribute thousands of dollars in taxes and generate millions of dollars in revenue. Knowing that our country is more than $17 trillion in debt, it is imperative that we focus on financially empowering the private-sector businesses and individuals to focus on eliminating debt. Good-paying jobs can provide people with more discretionary income, therefore, allowing them the freedom to contribute to the causes they are passionate about, such as neighborhood parks. That is a win-win scenario.
The James Hardie Company’s willingness to locate and expand in Pierce County speaks volumes to the community and encourages other companies looking to locate a business to find out why Frederickson is a great place to call home. The more folks earning an income, the better we are as a community, county, state and nation. The burden of debt is as destructive as subjugation by conquest. Let’s keep Pierce County open for business, offering employment opportunities and financial stability.
Thank you, again, for the opportunity to clarify a misunderstanding and some misinformation that made its way through social media outlets. My office welcomes your calls and questions. We do our best serve you well.
Jim McCune is the Pierce County Council member from the Third District, which includes Graham, Eatonville and other areas of the county’s south end.