Traffic inches along 172nd St NE on Monday in Arlington. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Arlington, Marysville team to attract thousands of future jobs

ARLINGTON — City officials in Arlington and Marysville are making plans they hope could add up to 20,000 more manufacturing and industrial jobs to north Snohomish County over the next two decades.

The cities are working with the Puget Sound Regional Council to get the Arlington-Marysville Manufacturing Industrial Center recognized at the state level, which could land grants and attract more employers. The cities and county already have local designations that allow for tax incentives when employers build and hire in that area.

Leaders now are seeking grant money to pay for drafting a master plan that would merge existing studies from both cities and look toward what is needed to expand the industrial center.

As the cities work on their plans, they check in with each other, Arlington city administrator Paul Ellis said. They review details such as lining up current and planned roads to maintain traffic flow. A master plan for the industrial center would firm up the coordinated efforts between the cities and could make long-term planning more efficient and less expensive, Ellis said.

“The master plan would be a notebook each city has to see how this is going to look as it develops,” he said. “It would give a solid direction … so the cities can meet in the middle when we get there.”

The goal of a state designation and formal plan for the manufacturing industrial center is to entice more employers and state funding, particularly grants that are geared toward high-density employment areas. If the city doesn’t land a grant for planning, they’ll try again in the fall, Ellis said.

Growth is coming, he said. Businesses need buildable land, lease space and infrastructure. Families moving to north Snohomish County need local jobs.

The challenge is making sure infrastructure keeps pace, Ellis said. Roads are the biggest concern. Highway 531 — also 172nd Street Northeast — connects industrial areas to the interstate. Traffic there is heavy, and a project is in the works to widen the road. During peak morning and afternoon hours, drivers can sit behind the same stop light for four or five cycles. A collision on the two-lane portion of the highway brings traffic to a standstill.

“Some of the things that need to be done, and that are being done, is better access in the roads system to help us transfer our product back and forth,” said Derick Baisa, CEO of Senior Aerospace, which runs Absolute Manufacturing and AMT in Arlington. They do mostly precision machining and assembly.

Baisa anticipates continued growth in those fields. Workers are going to be needed to keep up with demand, he said, and those workers appreciate close-to-home jobs.

“One of the things that we like, being up in northern Snohomish County, is we try to attract our employees from the local area and the areas to the north,” Baisa said. “We seem to have better employee retention that way.”

The companies have been in Arlington since 2002. Absolute employs about 115 people, Baisa said. Part of the appeal of Arlington and Marysville is the proximity to the I-5 corridor and the nearby workforce. Business parks around Paine Field and Boeing are flooded with competition for skilled workers and adequate space, he said.

A market study was done in August for the manufacturing industrial center. It found that low vacancy rates and high rents in the region, particularly around Paine Field, could “accelerate construction in more affordable, alternative locations.”

The study found that the manufacturing industrial center could be home to between 8,000 and 25,000 jobs by 2040. There currently are about 5,300 jobs there.

The center spans about 4,000 acres, fairly evenly split between the cities, with a little more on the Arlington side. More than 1,700 of those acres are considered ready to develop because they are vacant, could be redeveloped or are only partially occupied, according to the city of Marysville.

Kari Bray: 425-339-3439; kbray@heraldnet.com.

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