By Douglas Buell / The Arlington Times
ARLINGTON — The City of Arlington and Port of Everett have signed an agreement making their partnership official to give the Cascade Industrial Center more economic tools and knowhow to create jobs and expand the region’s tax base.
Working alongside Arlington and Marysville to secure designation for the industrial center, the port has already invested time and energy in deciding what the legacy will be for the next hundred years. All arrows are pointing north.
“We are touting it from the rooftops that Arlington and Marysville are the future of this county, and we definitely believe that,” said Terri Battuello, the port’s chief of business and economic development.
The relationship in the past has benefitted Arlington through economic development and project finance support, real estate services such as siting and recruiting, marketing for the industrial center and agency coordination.
City and port officials have met since the start of the year to determine and evaluate common goals and opportunities between the two entities related to long-term development of the industrial center.
Through the agreement, the port is positioned to bring more expertise to the table, such as financing options and more grant opportunities, planning and environmental support, regulatory strategy and possible expansion of the Foreign Trade — or Trade Free — Zone.
The agreement will also give the city and port room to evaluate agreements or leases within the industrial center for job development, and partner with Washington State University for an incubator for the food processing and seafood industries, along with a possible center in robotics.
Mayor Barb Tolbert said it will be a plus to partner with a district that has much deeper relationships with BNSF Railway, as well as WSU and other higher institutions.
For the longer term, their discussions may also explore the advantages of expanding the boundary of the port’s district to include all or portions of the CIC.
“We don’t know if that will lead to the port expanding countywide, and in Marysville and Arlington, but as a person coming from the city and the county my first 25 years, I think it’s really important that everybody be included in the conversation,” Battuello said.
Most ports in Washington and across the country are countywide. The Port of Everett is one of the few ports in the state that isn’t, which can pose a disadvantage.
Other support could extend to seaport and logistic relationships vital to the Cascade Industrial Center in its status as a hub for industry.
The Port of Everett, through its seaport, marina and real estate lines of business — ranks second in the state at $21 billion in exports including airplanes, supports 35,000 jobs and is the third-largest container port in the state.
Marc Hayes, the city’s community and economic development director, called the agreement with the port a good mechanism for transparency, and puts them in the loop for higher-level conversations.
“I’m amazed at what they know ahead of anybody else,” Hayes said.
City Councilwoman Debora Nelson said it’s noteworthy that port officials are looking into the crystal ball of the manufacturing industry, and sides with the wisdom to bring others on board with a wider knowledge base.
“It just seems like an exciting fit for the future.”