Council discusses economic development


Jennifer Hackman discusses zones of industrial and residential development throughout Pullman on Tuesday night at Pullman City Hall.

The Pullman City Council discussed Pullman’s economic developments and the health department’s response to the COVID-19 coronavirus at its meeting Tuesday.

Jennifer Hackman, Pullman economic development manager, said there is some seasonality to Pullman’s economy because of the large percentage of the population who are university students.

“Pullman is a job center in the region,” Hackman said.

However, she said Pullman is underserved in some important areas; mending these gaps is the goal over the next six months.

To fix these gaps, her group plans to connect with local entrepreneurs and attract businesses to the area.

She spoke about what she called “Pullman’s Story.” She called Pullman a high-quality place, and said families like to raise kids in the city.

Hackman said that Pullman is a knowledge-driven community, meaning that a lot of the economic developments come from the university and its firms. Agriculture is also a historically strong industry for the Palouse and it makes up a large part of the area’s exports.

Pullman has 41 times more workers in the electrical equipment industry than an average area, according to her data.

Councilmember Brandon Chapman said that skilled labor workers tend to leave Pullman. Hackman said it’s a challenge to incentivize industry workers to stay in smaller areas, but that the city is working on it.

Tom Handy, president of the Downtown Pullman Association, said the community is excited about the Downtown Master Plan.  

“Last month, specifically mentioned was [the council’s] role in the ongoing support of the Downtown Association for hiring the Downtown Association executive director,” he said. “This fundamental and crucial step will allow the Downtown Association to continue with its goal towards Main Street America accreditation.”

The City of Pullman is financially stable, said Mike Urban, Pullman director of finance and administrative services.

Troy Henderson, director of Whitman County Public Health, said people should wash their hands and stay home if they’re feeling ill to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

“We’ve had two tests in Whitman County, they both came back negative,” he said.

However, he said that he thinks it is likely that there is at least one case in Whitman County. He said there is a greater than 50 percent chance that there’s more than one case in the county.

Henderson said, across history, there have been seven forms of coronavirus that first came from animals before being transferred to humans.

“If you get a common cold now, about 30 to 40 percent of the time; that is a coronavirus causing the cold,” he said.

Councilmember Nathan Weller said Henderson’s contributions to the effort against COVID-19 have been “absolutely amazing.”

A COVID-19 website was established by the Health Department this week.