With new marijuana retail shops looking to open in the next few weeks, a medical marijuana operation running and the port filled with producers and processors; jobs, new families and real estate are some of the indicators that we are seeing as the industry starts to evolve in Washington.
Speaking to a few of those involved in the new green industry, they have relocated here both purchasing and renting homes, leasing office space and some are leasing commercial and industrial buildings in the Port of Willapa Harbor. They also have families that are quickly becoming part of the community.
"Our numbers in the South Bend School District remain about the same. But we had a number of families move out during the summer and all have been replaced with new families moving into the area," said Jon Tienhaara, South Bend Superintendent.
"Not all are from the green industry, but we have seen some families enrolling students from California and the I-5 corridor."
The Raymond School District reports that they also have a slight increase in enrollment.
A strong indicator, families with kids, leads to more spending in the local economy as well as those homes that they now occupy.
In some areas a few jobs have been created, though verifying exactly how many is hard as they often share labor forces based on the cycle of the industry. But it is not just the jobs that people are starting to find; it is the growth in other areas that we see as well. With local real estate agents, the market in home sales, home rentals and property management is providing a banner year.
"We are definitely seeing a difference this year," said Phil Davis of Davis Realty.
"People are moving in and it has been a busy year for us" said Heidi Keller of Harbor Realty.
It is not just the home sales but also the increase in activity for construction.
Keller notes that it is some times hard to find a contractor to help with her homes that she manages.
"Even though it is a good year, it is taking a little more time scheduling work with a lot of the local contractors busy out at the port," said Keller.
"It is like the running joke in the office now," remarks Davis, "It use to be that a contractor would drop in and see if there was any work available. Now they hardly return your phone call."
But the reality of that situation is that they are busy working, and that is a good sign for the local economy.
Real estate agents as well as homeowners and business owners, and the new green industry, are busy working at keeping things fresh or new as more people are looking toward Raymond and South Bend to make a home, start a business or grow into a new industry.
It is more than those directly in the green industry that are making the difference. Other people are looking into the area for the additional support that will be needed in the future. Speculators who are also willing to take a gamble of the marijuana industry are stopping through to see what might be available for future business opportunities.
The Pacific County Public Utility District has had to introduce new policies around the increased demand of power for a few customers. And with the priority change in the direction of PUD projects, they too are having issues working projects that were slated to have work done this year.
The City of South Bend has just instituted a B & O tax. Not directly attributed to the influx of the marijuana business, but by doing so the city will gain additional revenue as new business that will start to develop. So in a way, one could surmise, even with the South Bend City mayor stating that the city had not much choice but to start the tax base in order to keep the city coffers from being depleted, it is another sign of growth in the communities.
Still a bit slow, but as you look around things are starting to develop and change in the communities around Raymond and South Bend, and with the Washington State Liquor Control Board looking to increase allowances for the production of cannabis, it only leaves more room for people to come and get involved in the cultivation of the new industry and help the local communities prosper in the future.