He is often referred to as “the hardest working man in local government”.
After eight years with the city, Economic Development Director Tim Johnson is leaving Federal Way. Johnson takes on a new role in Oregon State as Lincoln County Administrator.
“I think the opportunity came…they came looking for me,” Johnson told the Mirror.
Johnson is a 4th generation born and raised Oregonian. Traveling thousands of miles on the I-5 corridor, he also cares for his 98-year-old mother who lives in Portland.
His return to Oregon is for personal and professional reasons, he said.
Hired in 2014, Johnson brings more than 30 years of experience in economic development in the public sector with the cities of Sacramento and San Diego, and in municipal and regional development with a private consulting firm and a development authority. northern California, the Mirror previously reported.
“When you look at economic development, for the most part it was just me,” he said. “So I had to rely on the people and their support, their enthusiasm, their awareness. And, to my surprise and amazement, they went above and beyond the call of duty.
The Director of Economic Development is responsible for leading the City’s efforts to recruit new businesses and retain existing ones while catalyzing downtown development.
For Johnson, it’s also about supreme customer service.
“The more customer service you can provide, the bigger the economy grows,” he said.
While at Federal Way, Johnson played a key role in recruiting companies such as Davita, Ellenos Yogurt, Sea Mar Federal Way Medical Clinic, Trapper’s Sushi, Legendary Donuts and Amazon Fresh, among dozens of others.
His efforts are tangible in the recent development and opening of The Hub: Federal Way Higher Education collaboration campus. He supported the oldest and most prestigious economic development internship program in the state in cooperation with the University of Washington.
Then there were the 12 major special events over its years, funding the Performing Arts and Event Center and forming the newest COVID-19 task forces.
Johnson also curated a dizzying amount of data, ready to report on the city’s Tech Hub action plan, downtown development, visitor experience improvement, business development, tourism And much more.
Mayor Jim Ferrell said the city was “incredibly lucky” to have had Johnson in the role. Ferrell wished Johnson well in his new professional role, but said Federal Way will miss him.
“I’ve often called Tim the hardest working person in government and his efforts certainly back that up,” he said. “Many nights and weekends, Tim Johnson could be found in his office working for people in our community. His invaluable experience has brought new market tax credits to the Performing Arts and Event Center, countless new businesses and jobs at Federal Way.
Much of the past two years amid the pandemic — 102 weeks to be exact — has been documented by Johnson’s weekly memos. Updates on Federal Way economic development, business, labor, financial issues, successes and frustrations are written by Johnson and sent to approximately 400 people in the city.
On April 1, he’ll hit send on his latest weekly memo.
“I fill my last with thanks and praise,” he said.
Praise is something that flows easily from Johnson. He recalls the efforts of city staff and volunteers in 2018, when they worked “elegantly” to prepare the Celebration Park complex for the National Special Olympics, then transformed the entire complex to host the festival red, white and blue of the city on July 4th. The very next day, those same hands worked to restore the complex to a Special Olympics site.
“It was just amazing…it’s heartwarming, I’ve never seen anything like it before. They are champions in my mind,” he said.
After working in several California cities with millions of residents, Johnson said Federal Way city employees “dwarf a city ten times the size.”
The City of Federal Way is working to fill the vacancy of Director of Economic Development following Johnson’s resignation. The vacancy is open until filled, with the first review of candidates taking place on Friday 15 April.
To view the job advertisement and apply, visit www.cityofferalway.com/jobs.
Recruitment and selection processes include interviews with city staff, the Federal Way City Council and representatives of the Greater Federal Way Chamber of Commerce and possibly city business owners.