There’s an astonishing list of wins to celebrate in 2021

Each December, the Tri-Cities Area Journal of Business invites some of the region’s most insightful leaders to help us review the highlights of the past year.

This month, they came through.

The Tri-Cities tallied an astonishing list of wins in the second year clouded by Covid-19.

As the year closes, we look back at job growth, low unemployment, a red-hot housing market, major economic development news and significant milestones in construction of the Waste Treatment Plant, the $17 billion Hanford vitrification plant.

Where to start? As always, with jobs. 

Any business owner or manager will confirm that hiring is a challenge.

The Tri-Cities had more people working and fewer people on unemployment in October than in the years preceding the pandemic, according to the state’s most recent figures.

There were 141,863 jobs in the Tri-City metro area, more than any October in recent memory, with 6,227 drawing unemployment, another low. Employment was up nearly 10% from early 2020, said Karl Dye, president and CEO of the Tri-Cities Development Council.

“Unfortunately, the recovery and growth in our workforce has not been even across all industries and sectors,” he noted in his column.

Employers announced major new undertakings over the past year. We’ve written a lot about Costco’s second store, Darigold’s new protein and butter plant, Reser’s Fine Foods new deli salad plant, Amazon’s massive distribution centers and Local Bounti’s high-tech greenhouses.

Those are the big headlines. There are lots more intriguing developments across the region.

Local agencies had authorized more than $1.2 billion in commercial and residential construction through November, exceeding 2019’s $1.1 billion.

Housing is an issue to watch. October’s median home price of $392,100 was 44% higher than three years ago and the market is still tight, threatening affordability.

That’s encouraging developers to add homes, townhomes and apartments to the community, all badly needed.

To read more about our economy from the point of view of our local leaders, click here.

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