By John Wolcott
HBJ Freelance Writer
EVERETT — A new in-depth, multilayered, 2013-2014 business plan for Economic Alliance Snohomish County will be unveiled at the group’s second annual meeting May 23 as part of its new regional economic development agenda being launched at a luncheon presentation in the Lynnwood Convention Center.
The strategic plan includes marketing the region as a premier place for business, talent and tourism in the Northwest; recruiting new companies to expand and strengthen developing clusters; and enriching the region’s quality by improving education, health care, recreation, transportation and the natural environment.
Along with those initiatives, EASC plans to partner with community and technical colleges and universities to expand the ranks of the county’s highly educated and technically proficient workforce. Also, EASC will continue to develop partnerships with private and public leaders throughout the county to encourage growth and the exchange of ideas.
“We’ve had business plans before but this one is the first one targeting regional economic development,” said EASC chief executive Troy McClelland. “One of the most important goals it promotes is expanding education opportunities and increasing the talent that will help companies grow in the future. We have to put the infrastructure in place to support that and particularly focus on very specific industries, such as aerospace and military.”
Without a trained workforce and the proper transportation infrastucture that gives businesses access to manufacturers and suppliers, he said, the county “can’t create long-term economic growth and vitality.”
“We’ve had a very enthusiastic reaction to this plan from our EASC board and others who have worked on it,” McClelland said. “It’s highly praised. We’re clearly encouraged with the support of our first strategic plan that will help us stay focused and also measure the results of our efforts.”
Shannon Affholter, the EASC’s vice president for business and economic development, said the new business plan “isn’t just an EASC plan, something Troy and I put together … it’s a community plan developed and supported by the business and education communities, including the 41 members of our board of trustees.”
EASC boasts a board that involves many backgrounds, interests and disciplines, including chairman Richard Cooper, CEO of The Everett Clinic; vice chairwoman Crystal Donner of Perteet Inc.; Sue Ambler, Workforce Development Council; John Dickson, Coastal Community Bank; Mark Lewinski, Kirtley-Cole Associates; David Beyer, Everett Community College; Mark Duffy, Mountain Pacific Bank; Steve Klein, Snohomish County PUD; Tom Lane, Dwayne Lane Auto Centers; John Mohr, Port of Everett; Mel Sheldon, Tulalip Tribes; Matt Yerbic, Aviation Technical Services; Everett Mayor Ray Stephanson; Susan Hempstead, Puget Sound Energy; Capt. Michael Coury, Naval Station Everett; Jason Clark, Boeing Co.; and Todd Brunner, Brunner Construction.
McClelland said the plan was developed in late 2012 and ratified by the board of trustees in January. The whole process began last summer with a broad effort to get comments and ideas from across the Snohomish County community. In recent months the plan was discussed, refined and rewritten until it reached its present format, which will be presented at the May 23 meeting.
“We also had a consultant’s help and guidance from the board and staff as we worked through 23 versions before we were satisfied,” McClelland said. “Now it will be put into use as a guide that will be updated annually to keep it fresh. It’s also a great tool for making the business and government sectors aware of our goals and programs.”
EASC’s recently announced plan to attract legislative support and financing for the county’s manufacturing corridor transportation improvements “nests right into our strategic infrastructure goals,” McClellan said.
“Also, we’re putting a lot of emphasis on our STEM goals to improve resources and opportunities for advancing science, technology, engineering and math education opportunities,” he said. “Partnering with Workforce Development, our two community colleges in Everett and Edmonds, our four-year colleges programs and Washington State University’s new presence in Everett are all important parts of our future that involves developing and financing a stronger K-20 education program.”
Other segments of the plan focus on establishing more partnerships to connect regional business and education leaders and encourage business growth and the exchange of ideas.
The EASC board of trustees’ main goals in the strategic business plan include developing and attracting future talent needed by county businesses, achieving a world-class infrastructure to support the Port of Everett’s cargo shipments, Boeing’s aircraft manufacturing and Paine Field’s aviation businesses, raising awareness of opportunities at the Aerospace Training Complex at Paine Field, plus highlighting the importance of Naval Station Everett’s presence to the local economy and expanding the region’s network of military contractors.
McClelland said the plan also includes representing the county’s public and private sectors with a unified voice for economic development in the Legislature and in Congress, plus supporting the county’s aerospace, advanced manufacturing, life sciences and renewable energy sectors of the economy.
“We want to serve as the ‘center of influence’ in Snohomish County where industry, government, labor and nonprofits work together to further common interests, facilitate government contracting programs and connect with leaders in the private and public sectors,” he said.