Decades-old service station to become place for innovators

TheLab@arlington would be part of a network that also includes a new space in Everett.

ARLINGTON — A 1940s service station is set to be transformed into a downtown hub for entrepreneurs.

The goal is to open TheLab@arlington in summer 2019, city spokeswoman Sarah Lopez said. It’s part of a network being developed by the NW Innovation Resource Center, a nonprofit based in Bellingham. The Arlington location would be a branch of TheLab@everett.

The city of Arlington purchased the former Howell’s Service Station at 404 N. Olympic Ave. in March for $250,000.

Plans for renovations were put on hold after a single bid came in at more than double the budget. The City Council on Sept. 17 rejected it, and intends to seek new bids in January. Arlington has an agreement with the state Department of Commerce to fix up the building for $282,750.

Once complete, the space is expected to be used for talks and classes, said Diane Kamionka, executive director of the nonprofit. It would be set up to stream presentations from the larger Everett location, as well. Topics could include marketing, intellectual property, product pricing and technologies for small businesses.

The lab would be used for one-on-one mentoring, too, or for working alongside fellow inventors and business owners.

“The people we tend to work with have ideas for things that are new and innovative and not necessarily part of a known, established business,” Kamionka said. “They would be able to utilize the space to work and share ideas.”

Plans also include a 3D printer and a small meeting room equipped for video calls.

The lab is part of a larger effort. Arlington and Darrington partnered to create a North Stillaguamish Valley Economic Recovery Plan after the 2014 Oso mudslide. The cities’ efforts took them to the finals of a national competition.

Among the ideas proposed was creating centers in each city that would help the local workforce and bolster small businesses.

The NW Innovation Resource Center has been offering classes in Arlington. The next one is set for 6 p.m. Oct. 30 in the City Council chambers, 110 E. 3rd St. The topic is social media and public relations for businesses.

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

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