Published January 2001

County will benefit
from EDC plan

How Snohomish County develops its economy will be determined in great measure by the kind of new businesses that move here. Thatís why the Snohomish County Economic Development Council has launched a five-year plan to attract the types of enterprises that will bring clean industry, living-wage payrolls and community-involved executives to our area.

Because the county already has many of those types of businesses, the EDC feels the chance of adding to those numbers is high. Winning enterprises like to be close to other winning enterprises, particularly high-tech and biotech firms, primary targets of the EDC effort.

Already, the EDC has raised more than half of its $3.5 million goal for the five-year plan, which would generate a budget of $700,000 a year for the public-private partnership.

Snohomish County government has contributed $100,000, and both the Port of Everett and Paine Field have pitched in with $50,000 each, while private industry partners in the EDC have contributed their own shares.

The campaign is important to the countyís economy and to its image. No longer simply a place for King County employees to live, Snohomish County has a well-developed economy of its own that is attracting companies from other areas, particularly King County, where land is becoming more scarce and leasing costs more expensive.

If the EDC campaign is successful, it could lead to 4,000 new jobs, each paying a ďliving wageĒ of $38,000 to $43,000 a year, EDC President Deborah Knutson said, adding that biotech will be among the first companies targeted by the new marketing effort.

The director of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, Lee Hartwell, told those who attended the EDCís annual meeting in November that biotechnology can be an important economic source.

He said a half-dozen companies, including Immunex, with facilities in both Seattle and Bothell, have been spawned from research work at the Hutchinson Cancer Center, a trend in the biomedical field that could affect Snohomish Countyís economy even more in the future.

Hartwell said these companies will need more affordable land for new and expanded offices, and the younger workers and families involved in biotech companies will be looking for quality housing and schools.

The EDCís campaign is aimed at attracting exactly those types of businesses, workers and families. Much of the councilís work will be focused on simply letting more people know about the advantages of being in Snohomish County.

The countyís story has not been well told to enough people, a shortcoming that can be overcome by a larger budget, more staff and a coordinated plan of action.

Now, the EDC, thanks to Knutsonís leadership, the hard work of an experienced staff and leadership support from the EDC board of directors, is in an excellent position to capitalize on the benefits of attracting high-quality business to Snohomish County.

Realistically, of course, every new business wonít be a bio-tech or high-tech business with high salaries. The campaign is aimed, however, at increasing the chances that a larger number of new businesses will be in those categories than if the county had no active recruiting effort.

While the campaign will target such firms, the increased publicity about the countyís assets will lead to an increasing number of retail, contracting and distribution companies, such as Food Services of America, a Kent-based firm that saw a site in Everett as the solution to many of its food distribution challenges, such as traffic congestion in King County that made it difficult to accomplish FSAís deliveries efficiently.

With more workers will come more stores, more light manufacturing and more schools. With more payrolls of all sizes will come more tax revenues for public needs. With more people will come more community leaders.

Considering all of the benefits of the EDCís detailed and well researched five-year plan, itís good for the people of Snohomish County that there is such a high caliber of leadership within the EDC. These are people who care about the county, not just about their own individual businesses or enterprises. And public agencies are involved, too, because they, like the business community, also will benefit greatly.

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