Economic Alliance launches new diversity and equity program

The economic development group hopes for widespread participation among the region’s employers.

Garry Clark, CEO of Economic Alliance Snohomish County. (Kevin Clark / Herald file)

Garry Clark, CEO of Economic Alliance Snohomish County. (Kevin Clark / Herald file)

EVERETT — Diversity, equity and inclusion — for Economic Alliance Snohomish County and its new CEO, Garry Clark, those are words to live by.

The economic development organization has launched a new initiative, SnoCODE, which goes live this year.

The moniker stands for “creating opportunities diversity equity” and is a partnership between Economic Alliance, Leadership Snohomish County and Snohomish County government.

Helping the region’s employers strengthen their commitment to equity and diversity is the goal, said Clark, president and CEO of Economic Alliance Snohomish County.

Diversity opens the door to opportunity and “helps our businesses, communities and partnerships thrive,” said Clark, who took the helm a year ago.

As part of the program, Economic Alliance and its partners will offer educational and technical assistance to employers, Clark said.

“Economic Alliance Snohomish County has brought together a diverse group of partners with a singular mission of creating opportunities for businesses and residents through diversity, equity and inclusion work,” Clark said. “When we embrace true inclusion, we embody our core belief that opportunity lives here for all.”

Economic Alliance serves as a development organization and countywide chamber of commerce.

The nonprofit was formed in 2011 by a merger of three groups: the Economic Development Council of Snohomish County, the Greater Everett Chamber of Commerce and the South Snohomish County Chamber of Commerce. The non-profit organization supports job growth, commercial airline service at Paine Field and development of the Cascade Industrial Center, which spans Marysville and Arlington.

Diversity, inclusion and equity is key “to attracting the industries needed to grow Snohomish County,” county Executive Dave Somers said in a statement.

“We all understand the importance of attracting and retaining top talent. Snohomish County benefits from diversity, and we are committed to helping all of our residents succeed. SnoCODE gives us a collaborative road map to make that possible,” Somers said.

Annie Cole, the county’s human resources policy advisor, hopes for widespread participation.

“The more partners who join in the efforts, the greater the impact for driving diversity, equity and inclusion,” Cole said.

Leadership Snohomish County, a nonprofit that offers leadership programs, will provide training.

“Diversity, equity and inclusion have been a priority of Snohomish County leaders, and SnoCODE is the next step in this work,” said Kathy Coffey Solberg, Leadership’s executive director.

Leadership Snohomish County “has been committed to this work in a substantial way since 2016,” Coffey Solberg said.

Six years ago, the group launched STEP UP for Racial Equity, an annual conference. As a SnoCODE program participant, Leadership’s goals include “removing barriers and dismantling inequitable systems in our region,” Coffey Solberg said.

Economic Alliance plans to hire a full-time employee to help further the effort, Clark said.

For more information about SnoCODE, contact Katie Leone at katiel@economicalliancesc.org.

Janice Podsada: 425-339-3097; jpodsada@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @JanicePods.

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