The city of Mountlake Terrace is using $49,000 of its federal American Rescue Plan Act money to jump-start the program. The council approved it in the 2023-2024 biennium budget last winter after staff recommended it as a way to diversify and strengthen the city’s economic base, Assistant City Manager Stephen Clifton wrote in an email to The Daily Herald.
The city contracted with Economic Alliance Snohomish County, the countywide chamber and business group, for that work. The alliance is using that money to hire a part-time employee to coordinate the chamber with a goal of them starting by May, regular chamber meetings and major networking events, according to the proposal document.
The chamber coordinator should be hired by May, Economic Alliance Economic Development Vice President Wendy Poischbeg said. Dedicating an employee to the chamber will especially help small business owners, she said.
“We can just easily point people in the right direction instead of burdening the staff of Mountlake Terrace,” Poischbeg said.
Jon DeBoo, owner of snack food company Muunch Muunch, grew up in the Brier area. He’s been back for a couple of years and saw a need for business owners to connect. In one meeting of a business association that was formed recently before being brought into the new chamber, DeBoo said he met someone who builds websites, something he needed help with.
“It’s just a great networking tool,” he said. “Those dollars stay local.”
There are 750 businesses with licenses in Mountlake Terrace, according to city data provided to Poischbeg. Not all of them have commercial space in the city, but the alliance aims to get at least 200 members for the chamber, she said.
Business owners should join the chamber to meet fellow entrepreneurs, people in their industry and neighbors, DeBoo said. Beyond exchanging cards, the chamber is focused on “giving back” through backpack giveaways to students, supporting the National Night Out and Halloween events, as well as a possibly starting a scholarship for Mountlake Terrace High School graduates.
“We’re gaining traction,” DeBoo said. “Every meeting we’re getting two or three more businesses to join.”
Mountlake Terrace is in line to be among the first Snohomish County locations for Sound Transit light rail, set to open sometime next year.
When it does, it could accelerate changes already seen and felt in the city, which saw another 1,000 housing units near the station at 236th Street SW just east of I-5. The frequent, high-capacity transit option creates “an amazing opportunity for Mountlake Terrace businesses to grow and expand,” Poischbeg said.