Thurston County fastest-growing county along I-5 for past and next 10 years

Council boasts $1 to $48 economic multiplier


Thurston Economic Development Council (EDC) Executive Director Michael Cade gave Thurston’s Board of County Commissioners (BoCC) an overview of the economic development efforts in the region.

At a meeting on March 18, Cade presented EDC’s initiatives, which showed Thurston as the fastest-growing county in the I-5 corridor (Thurston, King, Pierce, and Kitsap counties) over the last ten years.

The report also shows Thurston as the fastest-growing county over the next ten years.

“Economic development is not a sole organizational or individual activity— it only occurs successfully in regions that have great ships,” Cade said.

Thurston County has four strategic major components that support entrepreneurs, employment, investment, and sustainable economies:

Chart showing the county's growth in the last ten years as well as it's ten-year projection.
Chart showing the county's growth in the last ten years as well as it's ten-year projection.

Economic multiplier

EDC Director of Research and Evaluation Gene Angel highlighted EDC’s economic multiplier of $1 to $48, which he says is “outstanding” compared to the usual $5-7 of other regions.

This multiplier figure means that every 1 dollar that EDC administrates returns to the community as $48 in economic development.

“It's a big deal, and we should pay attention to that. We don’t see multipliers this high that often,” Angel said.

Economic impacts

With the latest data on 2022, the county amassed a total economic output of $475.8 million, which created 1,441 jobs, and a total labor income of $109.2 million.

The Milken Institute recognized Olympia-Tumwater as the 9th Best Economy and the 4th Best in Income Equality nationwide.

Chmura Economy also recognized the county nationally as the 2nd Best Economy and 1st in High-Tech Job Growth.


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  • BobJacobs

    This is more of the usual EDC puffery. It's all about quantity, not about quality. All this "growth" doesn't make this a better place to live.

    And by the way, what kind of growth? The article doesn't say. Population?

    Bob Jacobs

    Friday, March 22 Report this

  • Southsoundguy

    No more Seattleites. Go away.

    Friday, March 22 Report this

  • Yeti1981

    It's always cute that people think they can keep their community exclusive and private for only the people they approve of. Bottom line is, people are moving here whether you like it or not. And, to add, a significant number of them are military or military adjacent. So either get with the plan, and prepare for this growth, or get out of the way.

    Friday, March 22 Report this

  • Southsoundguy

    Yeti that is exactly the kind of attitude that permits this type of “growth.” Passivity and apathy masked as realism.

    Friday, March 22 Report this

  • JW

    #1 in growth of the criminal transient population.

    Sunday, March 24 Report this

  • Yeti1981

    Southsoundguy the growth is happening whether you "permit" it or not. It's either going to be in the form of a population that desperately needs housing and opportunity, or a population that has adequate housing and opportunity. That depends on who the planners are truly listening to. Either we let builders build and business flourish, or we grow our population of desperate folks who will do whatever they can to get the things they need. Planners and officials need to lose this misguided vision that growth can be mitigated by blocking it. That's not reality. Every population projection over the last 7 from OFM for this area has fallen short of the real numbers. People will come here. We're too far behind to began blocking growth now. We need to build.

    Monday, March 25 Report this

  • KimDobson

    For people who new to the "Growth at any cost game" in Olympia notice that the "Multi family Tax Exemption " the MFTE as promoted by Olympia council members like yeti1981 and the other members of the council voting for the MFTE has shifted (the Legislature made this legal through co-operation with the Dept of Revenue and the County Assessor ) approximate 14 million dollars of property tax money for 8 years from the wealthy developers like Walker John to the rest of Olympia's property payers . What they have built under the MFTE program so far is expensive Gentrified Apartments with market rate pricing ( many of these expensive apartments are currently empty ) . This does not help low income families looking for affordable housing leading to low enrollments in the Madison School districts with families moving to Mason and Lewis Counties for affordable housing , but expensive MFTE housing does provide housing for the for the wealthy . The Olympia city council gives us band aid solutions like Tiny Houses for the poor but permanent affordable housing is too little and too late . The truth is Private Equity groups like Black Rock and Carlisle group have snatched up about 31 % of all single family housing ,cornered most of the housing markets since 2008 in the US making the dream of owning a starter home a unlikely prospect for most young people . The Carlisle group bought the Friendly Village mobile home park several years ago near Hagen's grocery on the west side and the first thing Carlisle did was raise everyone's' rents by a 1/3 rd and without a survey of Friendly Village residents on fixed incomes for ability to pay ? Growth for profit's sake is a cancer on our society and we have seen what has happened in King County Wa, using this philosophy . Housing has become unaffordable and the same is happening in Thurston . The Olympia City Council is doing exactly what the Chamber of Commerce wants . They do massive quantities of virtue signaling with words but their actions unfortunately indicate they are working for speculator's interests . It's sad situation .

    Tuesday, March 26 Report this

  • FirstOtter

    "Economic development' can be distilled down to a single: Warehouses. People can't live in warehouses, but the it appears that the 'planners' don't give a darn. There's money to be made, and if Thurston county is like King county, the warehousers/developers et al won't have to pay property taxes.

    If the EDC were truly interested in economic development, it would first find all the empty brick and mortar stores and fill those with businesses that bring in money. There are spots in Thurston countyi where a developer destroyed a forest in order to put in a strip mall and most of the stores they built are still empty.

    Tuesday, March 26 Report this

  • JW

    I don't understand the anti-growth crowd. How do we stop all the people moving here? Build a wall? The people are coming. Burying your head in the sand and crying about it won't make a difference.

    Tuesday, March 26 Report this