MARYSVILLE — Leaders of four major economic engines in north Snohomish County said at a Marysville-Tulalip Chamber of Commerce summit last week that business is booming.
At the Opera House, the leaders on Tuesday talked about some of the major projects they are working on, as well as some of the roadblocks they are facing.
City of Marysville
Mayor Jon Nehring talked about the Manufacturing Industrial Center and an I-5 interchange at 156th to deal with the traffic.
As for roadblocks, he said infrastructure is always a problem because it takes a long time to build and costs a lot of money. Nehring said the city has spent years planning for growth, and it’s exciting to see things come to fruition. He said partnerships have been key.
Nehring said there will be some congestion relief in 2019 when the I-5 shoulder will be available as an extra lane from north Everett to Marysville, followed soon after by Highway 529 on-ramps and off-ramps. Traffic relief “never happens ahead of time,” he said. “It’s not until the problem hits a critical stage.”
Nehring said unfunded mandates hurt development, adding that should be an issue in the Nov. 6 election.
Tulalip Economic Development Corp.
CEO Russell Steele talked about a planned water park that would be the largest in North America, with a 500-room hotel, a project which is up to five years away. He also talked about an Arlington cannabis lab that could move there. The Tulalip Tribes also are looking into an indoor lettuce farm.
Steele said he’s concerned about employment at the water park and other upcoming businesses because unemployment right now is so low — 3.5 percent. He said the Tulalip Resort Casino is short 120 workers because of the low jobless rate. He said the state Department of Transportation said it would need to raise gasoline taxes by $2.25 per gallon to do all the road work needed in the state.
Port of Everett
Chief Financial Officer John Carter said the port has the largest public marina on the West Coast and is the second-largest port in the state, behind Seattle-Tacoma. Two-thirds of its business is related to cargo and there is demand to take more and larger ships. The port is also developing the waterfront with four restaurants, a hotel and 260 apartments. It also hosts numerous Navy ships.
He said Army Corp of Engineers water regulations inhibit growth, as does the remediation required to rebuild old mill sites. Tariffs also are a concern, as Russia has been a key customer for shipping.
Carter said he’s excited about working with the growing business opportunities in the north county.
Carter said more agricultural products need to come here directly from Mexico, rather than going through California.
Economic Alliance Snohomish County
President and CEO Patrick Pierce talked about the need to convince Boeing to build its next aircraft model here. Supporting the “big guy,” he said, helps the many little guys who work with Boeing.
Pierce also expressed concern about tariffs. Lack of housing and trained workers are other concerns. He said he is excited about the Manufacturing Industrial Center bringing jobs here and allowing businesses to “escape the craziness of King County.”
He said he’s excited to build on Paine Field to make this area an even hotter destination. He said local children need to be taught the skills to get jobs here. And he’s excited about the new innovation center coming to Arlington.
Pierce said, “Congestion sucks, but it’s better than the alternative,” like economic demise in places like Detroit. “It’s a good problem to have.”
He said brownfield cleanup needs to be a priority. It not only cleans up the environment but puts the land back on the tax rolls.
“It’s a win-win, and it grows jobs,” he said.