By Brian Kelly
MARYSVILLE — Anchored at the edge of a retail whirlpool, Marysville isn’t satisfied to stare into the swirl of local consumer dollars draining away.
The vortex? The Tulalip Tribes’ Quil Ceda Village, a burgeoning business park that opened last year with a Wal-Mart and Home Depot.
Marysville officials think the tribes’ development, which will eventually include an outlet mall, may be contributing to a falloff in sales tax revenues to the city. Now, the city is launching the second part of a study to create a strategy to attract new businesses while retaining existing ones and helping them grow.
City leaders call the study a road map to an "economy of opportunity."
"What happens with this study, and how it’s implemented, is just vital to the economics of the city," said Mary Swenson, Marysville’s chief administrative officer.
"This is not something we want to do and just put on a shelf," she said. "This is something we need to move forward."
Impacts from the Tulalips’ development are already being felt.
"Given what’s going on over on the Tulalip reservation, everything has basically changed," Swenson said. "We don’t want to be driven by what is happening over on the Tulalip reservation, but we can’t ignore it either," she said.
"We’ve seen some dips in sale tax revenues from some of the bigger retail stores. We need to be concerned about that," Swenson said. "We need to be thinking about what we can do as a city to encourage people to develop within Marysville."
The study will cost $39,500. Gardner Johnson, a Seattle-based consultant firm, will begin the study by profiling the city’s commercial core. The company will then conduct interviews, create focus groups, and survey business and property owners to find assets and barriers to economic growth.
A strategy for keeping businesses and attracting new ones will then be crafted. A final report is expected by October.
The analysis will focus on businesses throughout town, from Ebey Slough and the Marysville Town Center at the south end, to Marysville’s northern limit bordering State Avenue.
The city isn’t looking to go toe-to-toe with the Tulalips, but Marysville instead wants to find businesses that may be complementary to those at Quil Ceda Village.
"We need to look at how we can develop our own strategy to complement what they’re doing over there, but also, keeping our own identity," Swenson said.
The issue is more than just which government gets tax dollars coming from retail sales. For Marysville residents, keeping existing businesses healthy, and encouraging new ones to locate in the town of 25,300, is a way to garner revenues for the extra things that citizens say they want, like recreational opportunities and a community center.
While the second phase of the study is expected to start next month, the first phase is still being wrapped up. That first study focuses mainly on impacts to city services that have been caused by Quil Ceda Village, next to I-5 west of Marysville.
The first phase should be completed in about a month.
Eventually, when both phases are finished, city officials hope it will mean a strategy that will help Marysville grow from its current status as a bedroom community.
"By having jobs in this area, people don’t have to go to Issaquah or Seattle or Everett," said Mayor Dave Weiser.
"The council said we really need to look at this overall economic development, realizing that most people don’t work in town," he said. "They work someplace else."
You can call Herald Writer Brian Kelly at 425-339-3422 or send e-mail to email@example.com.