Alliance will emphasize county’s importance

  • By Kurt Batdorf HBJ Editor
  • Tuesday, May 28, 2013 11:16am

LYNNWOOD — Economic Alliance Snohomish County wrapped up its second full year in business with an annual update on the organization’s progress.

About 320 registered EASC investors and guests filled a hall at the Lynnwood Convention Center on May 23 to hear alliance CEO Troy McClelland extol the work of his staff in setting up the organization’s business model and finances and the support of EASC’s board of directors.

“We were blessed with having the people who spoke about (EASC), who propelled us into 2012,” McClelland said of the board.

The EASC board’s top priority is adoption of its new business plan, which sets goals to attract new investment to the organization, respond to employer needs, improve the quality of place, respond to employer needs and connect regional leaders.

“Companies tell me, ‘Troy, I’m here for the cost structure, but we have to attract more investment to Snohomish County,’ ” McClelland said.

EASC’s goal in the year ahead is to make sure the rest of Washington state and the Legislature recognize the role Snohomish County plays in driving the state’s economy, he said.

“Snohomish County’s business environment is of statewide significance. It must be seen and nurtured,” McClelland said. “Snohomish County has been the leader in (Washington’s) recession recovery.”

He said other objectives for EASC in 2013 include developing and attracting “tomorrow’s talent,” achieving world-class infrastructure and solidifying Snohomish County’s aerospace leadership.

“We have to streamline regulatory requirements to keep the county’s competitive advantage,” McClelland said. “We want the 777X and future planes from Boeing built here.”

Crystal Donner, vice president of the EASC board of directors, spoke about Boeing’s impending 777X and Boeing CEO Jim McNerney’s recent comments about competition between its Everett and North Charleston, S.C., factories for the chance to build the updated twin-aisle jet.

“Landing that (work) isn’t just about the jobs,” she said. “Whether you agree that we should be in competition or not, we are.”

EASC intends to strengthen the county’s military sector by attracting more defense contractors, he said. Some 11,000 jobs in the county are tied to the military in some way with an annual economic impact of nearly $500 million.

McClelland said EASC has been telling the Legislature about the importance of directing money in the pending transportation budget into Snohomish County’s high-tech manufacturing corridor. EASC lobbied for state dollars for roads, mass transit and passenger and freight air service at Paine Field, and Donner said those efforts had some success before the Legislature’s regular session adjourned.

EASC was lucky to be invited to join a Snohomish County coalition that’s addressing the rapid rise in health-care costs, McClelland said.

“We don’t often talk about the cost of health care, but it’s now cannibalizing (spending on) transportation, education and other needs,” he said. “A health-care partnership is clearly a business need.”

EASC and The Herald Business Journal also gave awards to the county’s business leaders.

EASC presented Bill Tsoukalas, executive director of the Boys &Girls Clubs of Snohomish County, with the 2013 John M. Fluke Sr. Community Service Award. Tsoukalas has worked with the Boys &Girls Club since an injury in 1973 ended his professional baseball career. He worked his way up through the King County Boys &Girls Club administration and moved to the Snohomish County Boys &Girls Club organization in 1987, taking over as executive director in 1992.

During Tsoukalas’ tenure in Snohomish County, the organization has grown from four clubs to 17 clubs and 16 school extension sites.

“We provide for all kids, but particularly for kids that need it the most,” Tsoukalas said. “I put myself in those shoes because I didn’t have much (as a child) and the club in my neighborhood opened up a world to me. I feel like I’m at least opening up a world for somebody out there.”

Rick Cooper, CEO of The Everett Clinic, received two awards. He was named The Herald Business Journal’s Executive of the Year and EASC’s Henry M. Jackson Citizen of the Year. The Business Journal profiled Cooper in its May issue.

Paul Archipley, owner of Beacon Publishing, Inc., and publisher of the Mukilteo Beacon, Edmonds Beacon and South Everett Beacon, was named The Herald Business Journal’s Entrepreneur of the Year.

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