Lynnwood celebrates new economic engine

Glass and class. Not what comes to mind when most people think of Lynnwood. More like malls, traffic, parking and an incredible sales-tax base.

Tuesday’s ground-breaking ceremony celebrating the beginning of construction for the city’s new convention center will do more than make over one corner of a busy intersection. It’s a giant step toward giving the city a new direction and a fresh identity.

Convention centers are more than big buildings designed solely for people in business suits. They are community gathering places. Look at the Everett Events Center to see how such places revitalize areas and draw crowds who might not otherwise visit. They offer people a focal point in their town and a sense of ownership. People will frequent the center for everything from professional association gatherings, garden shows, quilting clubs and weddings, to high school graduations and business training. That encompasses a wide range of people and ages.

City leaders have made a wise move with the convention center, which is part of the larger City Center Project started in 1995 and put into action nearly three years ago. The location is great and visible from the freeway. It’s near hotels. At 55,000 square feet, it’s the right size for the city and surrounding area. It’s on a prime lot with room to expand in the future to meet community needs with exciting possibilities such as a performing arts center, a swimming pool or a branch college. And it boasts promising new tenants already, including a restaurant and a women’s spa.

Financially, the $30 million project is a solid investment in the city’s future with an expected $10 million a year in revenue from meetings and myriad other events. It’s been referred to by civic leaders as an "economic engine," "a premier building," "the signature entrance to Lynnwood" and "a landmark building for Lynnwood."

It’s all those things for Lynnwood and its residents, who’ve suffered long enough without a much-needed downtown identity. The rest of the county should be celebrating with them. Snohomish County is seeing changes all over its map and outsiders will start connecting the dots. Soon, this won’t be a place people drive through on their way to Vancouver, B.C., or Seattle. It will be a place they stop to visit for a few days — leaving tourist dollars behind.

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FILE — In this Sept. 17, 2020 file photo, provided by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, Chelbee Rosenkrance, of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, holds a male sockeye salmon at the Eagle Fish Hatchery in Eagle, Idaho. Wildlife officials said Tuesday, Aug. 10, 2021, that an emergency trap-and-truck operation of Idaho-bound endangered sockeye salmon, due to high water temperatures in the Snake and Salomon rivers, netted enough fish at the Granite Dam in eastern Washington, last month, to sustain an elaborate hatchery program. (Travis Brown/Idaho Department of Fish and Game via AP, File)
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