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Pierce County offering employment tax incentives, opposite of Seattle’s head tax

PUYALLUP, Wash. – Pierce County means business; that’s the takeaway from Tuesday’s big news out of the South Sound.

The approach to bring family-wage paying jobs to Pierce County offers businesses a tax incentive, the opposite of the Seattle City Council recent passing of an employee tax on large businesses.

While local leaders in Pierce County say the announcement has anything to do with Seattle’s recent vote, small business owners are welcoming the attempt to lure employers into the South Sound.

At Patty’s Burgers and Milkshakes on Pacific Avenue in Tacoma, lunch is the busiest time of day.

“We serve food,” said owner Patricia Sanchez. “That’s why we need people to come to eat every day.”

Sanchez says her Pacific Avenue restaurant is her second location and she’d eventually like more but what she really needs is more people working, living and studying in downtown Tacoma.

“We need people to come from work and we need people to come to eat and help us,” she said.

The county is touting companies like Centeris  in Puyallup that is already able to handle tech companies looking for alternative locations away from Seattle.

“We want new family-wage job options for the citizens of Pierce County,” said Pierce County Executive Bruce Dammeier. “Right now, every morning tens of thousands of my neighbors leave our county for work. They’re spending countless hours in traffic on the highway.”

Dammeier says the Pierce County Council, along with eight other local governments, are all on board to offer $275 tax breaks for every new family-wage job that comes to the South Sound. If the price tag sounds familiar it’s because Seattle’s employee tax is the same dollar amount.

“Is this a direct response to what the Seattle City Council has decided with their head tax?” asked Q13 News.

“I would say that we live in a very diverse region,” replied Dammeier. “Seattle doesn’t speak for Pierce County and I don’t speak for Seattle. This is a great example that in Pierce County we want to attract more family-wage jobs here."

It’s news like that has Sanchez’ burger joint poised to fill more stomachs – and maybe even more diners.

Tacoma says it already offers some pretty hefty incentives for new businesses in the city -- up to $1,500 per new employee each year is up for grabs for companies that qualify.