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September 29, 2015

Real estate experts high on opportunity in Thurston County

Business Examiner

Should you invest in Thurston County real estate?

The answer, if you listened to speakers at Thurston County Economic Development Council's South Sound Real Estate Showcase and Forum today, is an obvious and resounding "yes." At the event, four experts gave their opinion on the matter: Zach Kosturos, president and designated broker of commercial real estate company Prime Locations; Michael Cade, executive director of Thurston Economic Development Council; Evan Parker, first vice president and partner of Kidder Mathews; and David Schaffert, president and CEO of Thurston Chamber of Commerce.

The four speakers cited a bevy of reasons to invest in Thurston County. Good work force development thanks to a solid K-12 system and a variety of quality higher education choices. Organizations that advocate for businesses. The port. Proximity to Joint Base Lewis-McChord. A center for state government. Entrepreneurial diversity. Economic stability. The list goes on and on.

"When I think of investing, I'm always looking for something that will give me a competitive edge," said Zach. "When you look at the county, its about the sum of the whole. When you look at the county 20 years ago versus now - we've weathered a storm," said Kosturos.

Speakers pointed to several major development projects as an example of growth and increasing interest in the region. That includes the 17-acre Creek Street mixed use development in Yelm, the 123 4th mixed use development in Olympia, the new (and bigger) Ice Chips and Mission Glass facilities, expansions at both the Lucky Eagle and Nisqually Red Wind casinos, the New Market Industrial Campus, the SPSCC relocation, new hotels and more.

As always, however, there are challenges.

"I think the major challenge we have right now is the amount of vacant space in the market acts as a barrier to entry to building new product," Parker said.

The solution, from Parker's perspective, is for building owners to reinvest in their spaces to make them more unique.

"You've got a lot of footage (of office space) in the market, but it's all the same. There's nothing that really stands out that you walk into and say 'Wow, this is unique.' Reinvest in your own product. Make it unique. That's the opportunity."

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