EVERETT — Mayor Cassie Franklin on Wednesday announced plans to reorganize the city’s economic development efforts.
She wants to forge a team effort that includes an advisory committee. The committee will combine elected officials and business folks who could start meeting regularly by June.
Franklin shared the news as she gave her first State of Everett address at Angel of the Winds Arena.
It is integral to Everett’s future to support existing job centers, such as The Boeing Co. and Funko, she said. It’s also important to bring in new employers.
“We have to be focused on what comes next,” she said.
Franklin touched on the movement by state and regional leaders to make Everett the home of Boeing’s new airplane line, unofficially called the 797.
“I will work tirelessly to make sure that plane is built here,” she said.
Another key step is adopting the Metro Everett rezoning plan, which the city has been kicking around for a while. If passed by the City Council, it would set new rules for building heights around downtown and the surrounding blocks. The mayor says it could be used to combat blight.
The city will be expending a lot more energy on marketing, she said. That means promoting tourism and recruiting startups.
In addition to economic development, public safety and civic engagement have been Franklin’s main areas of focus as mayor. She didn’t leave out either Wednesday.
Police officer vacancies have been an issue for years, but only 10 spots remain unfilled, she said. She aims to make hires for all those positions in 2018.
She also plans to create an advisory group for policing. She made reference to her announcement from earlier this month about addressing gang violence.
For the fire department, the priority is building a “cooperative, mutually respectful” relationship, she said. The former mayor, Ray Stephanson, and the firefighters union repeatedly had clashed over the costs of emergency services. There is an ongoing court case over labor disagreements.
Later this week, Franklin expects to share updates regarding the Safe Streets Initiative, which has been the city’s vehicle for programs around homelessness, addiction and mental health.
“While I am encouraged by our initial progress, it’s clear we have more to do,” she said.
The city hopes to partner with businesses on a pilot project to find job placements for people on work crews for misdemeanor cases. Everett’s leaders also will continue to push for the construction of supportive housing projects, as well as expanding the capacity of shelters, she said.
And the city is getting involved in local efforts to increase options for medication-assisted treatment for addiction. The Snohomish County Jail recently began offering medication-assisted detox to some detainees under a pilot program. Access to treatment is described as a huge barrier for people looking to break the cycle of life on the streets.
While all that happens, the city needs to do a better job of tracking its spending on social issues, Franklin said. There has been turbulence at City Council meetings in recent months about how the money is allocated. She suspects data analysis will show improved outcomes for the populations served.
Lastly, the mayor said she has scheduled another directive for release later this week on ways to bring more voices into city government.
Other news from Mayor Cassie Franklin’s State of Everett address:
The long-anticipated year-round farmers market in Everett, at the corner of Grand and Hewitt avenues, will announce its vendors soon. The site includes a kitchen and a deli.
A city plan is in the works for addressing climate change and green energy.
The city hopes to improve walking paths between Angel of the Winds Arena and Everett Station, which also may get a farmers market.
There is talk of putting a new park at the west end of Hewitt Avenue.
Lanie McMullin, the economic development director, expects to retire soon.
Outside of downtown, the city aims to encourage growth in business districts including the Everett mall, Paine Field, Evergreen Way and north Broadway, which is home to Everett Community College and Washington State University Everett.