Dan Eernissee, Everett’s new director of economic development, sees big potential downtown. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Dan Eernissee, Everett’s new director of economic development, sees big potential downtown. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

‘It’s time to create a new image,’ says Everett’s new booster

Economic development director Dan Eernissee hopes to turn the city into a more happening place.

EVERETT — Dan Eernissee, Everett’s new economic development director, often wonders: Where do the folks at Funko eat lunch, down a coffee or unwind?

Their answers could help Everett become a more happening place, Eernissee said.

When prospective businesses come to town in search of a new headquarters location, they’re not just looking at properties but a great place for their employees to shop or grab a bite, he said.

Bottom line: “Cities just can’t measure themselves on their annual gross domestic product anymore,” Eernissee said.

“To target those companies we’d like to move here, we have to target the kinds of amenities they prefer.”

Everett, at this point, is a bit of a wallflower, or maybe it just doesn’t realize how much it has to offer, he said.

“I’d like to help the downtown experience a renaissance,” he said.

Surrounded by maps, Dan Eernissee, Everett’s new Director of Economic Development, talks about the city’s plans to strengthen its relationship with the Everett business community on Nov. 21 in Everett. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Surrounded by maps, Dan Eernissee, Everett’s new Director of Economic Development, talks about the city’s plans to strengthen its relationship with the Everett business community on Nov. 21 in Everett. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

At Everett City Hall, the centerpiece of his new office is a giant aerial photograph of the city that covers the top of a conference table. You can’t miss it.

“We have the largest manufacturing facility (by volume) in the world,” he said, pointing to the Boeing Assembly plant. “We have views of Port Gardner and the mountains. We have the city’s historic downtown with its classic street grid — perfect for walking.”

He’d like to see development — more shops, cafes and businesses — fill in the city’s streets from the Port of Everett to Angel of the Winds Arena and beyond.

Memorable cities and neighborhoods offer pedestrians a surprise on every corner. Seattle’s University Village comes to mind, he said. “You can prowl all its twists and turns. No trip there is exactly alike.”

If we could get Pearl Jam to perform on the roof of Funko, he muses, “wouldn’t that be cool?” (Eddie V., are you hearing this?)

Eernissee, who was a center for the University of Washington football team from 1981 to 1985, has been on the job for six months.

He was hired to replace the previous economic development director, Lanie McMullin, who retired in February. Eernissee’s long career includes stints in the public and private sectors. The former economic development manager for the city of Shoreline spearheaded a project to improve a three-mile stretch of Highway 99 and make it safe for cars, bicycles and pedestrians. The project also spurred economic activity, attracting new businesses and residential development.

Said Everett Mayor Cassie Franklin: “Dan is a great asset to the city team! He comes to us with a background that will help attract new, long-term investments to Everett. In the private sector he developed outstanding projects in Snohomish County, including a major portion of Mill Creek Town Center, Snohomish Station, and hundreds of homes.

“In the public sector, he helped to attract millions of dollars of investment along Highway 99 and to guide the rezone of two light rail stations,” Franklin said. “I’m excited to be working with him on our plans to build on the incredible growth that Everett is already seeing.”

Everett’s new Director of Economic Development Dan Eernissee sports a University of Washington tie, harkening back to his time as a center on the Husky football team, on Nov. 21 in Everett. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Everett’s new Director of Economic Development Dan Eernissee sports a University of Washington tie, harkening back to his time as a center on the Husky football team, on Nov. 21 in Everett. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Since starting in June, Eernissee has carved out time to talk to people — those Funko employees, the crowd at Narrative Coffee on Wetmore Avenue near City Hall, business and civic leaders, folks at the Schack Art Center and local families who have called Everett home for a century or more.

His first step? Doing an inventory of what the city has to offer. “I firmly believe if you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it,” he said.

“I continue to be amazed by the city’s assets — the Port of Everett, its Waterfront Central District and a private developer’s plan to build 266 apartments there.

“It hurts me to say it because I’m wearing purple today,” Eernissee, the UW alum, said with a laugh, “but Washington State University is game-changer for Everett.” WSU opened its new building across the street from Everett Community College last year.

Eernissee recently briefed the Everett City Council about the 2018-21 Economic Development Plan.

High points include promoting the city’s downtown core and doing a better job of marketing and spiffing up the area formed by the Westmont-Holly-Evergreen-Boeing neighborhoods.

When the two planned light rail stops are built nearby, one at Boeing and the other near Highway 526 and Evergreen Way, that area is going to pop, he said.

To prepare, “we need to ask what kinds of recreations those communities will need. The city owns a lot of park property in that area, a golf course, 20 to 30 acres by the Phil Johnson Ballfields,” he said.

“Old Everett is gone,” he said. “The old mill sites that cast a cloud and an odor over the city are gone. It’s time to create a new image.”

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

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