Economic vitality subject of Terrace hearing

  • By Oscar Halpert Enterprise editor
  • Wednesday, October 15, 2008 4:58pm

Mountlake Terrace should promote a “strong and attractive image,” using its proximity to Seattle as a selling point, according to an economic vitality strategy a consultant prepared for the city and released this month.

The city’s economic vitality strategy will serve as a basis upon which to implement economic development strategy in the coming months and years, as the city gears up efforts to create its new Town Center.

A central tenant of the city’s approach includes an emphasis on sustainability and green technology, which are part of Mountlake Terrace’s sustainability strategy the council approved earlier this year.

“There is some overlap,” said Shane Hope, planning and development director. “The clean technology and jobs are important no matter which way you look at it.”

Consultant Berk &Associates came up with four economic vitality goals for the city:

• Create a business and development climate that facilitates desirable investment;

• Strengthen the city’s identity and communications to enhance the city’s image;

• Actively encourage desirable investment in Mountlake Terrace; and

• Facilitate the development of a vibrant and defining Town Center.

The strategy identifies three “critical elements” of economic vitality for the city: economic vitality and business growth, livability and community character, and image and identity.

“Given the current market conditions nationally and regionally, a greater focus on Mountlake Terrace’s image and preparation for development is particularly appropriate,” the report says. “In addition, with the adoption of the city’s sustainability strategy … there is an opportunity to leverage the momentum and integrate the notion of environmental sustainability and economic vitality in the city’s identity and image.”

Challenges to greater economic vitality, the report says, include the fact that most residents work outside the city, that surrounding cities draw sales tax away and its lack of large parcels of land available for redevelopment.

The study found that 91.1 percent of city residents work in King or Snohomish counties and 3.7 percent work in Mountlake Terrace. It also found the city’s retail sales overall lag behind such cities as Everett, Lynnwood, Bothell, Edmonds, Shoreline, even King and Snohomish counties in general.

To improve its economic base, the city’s focus should be on attracting professional services, medical and biomedical offices, clean technology firms and retail offerings like pharmacies, postal services and dry cleaners plus restaurants, cafes and small-scale retail stores, the study says.

“We’ve missed the opportunity, because of our location, to have enough of a foot print to attract the Wal-Marts,” said city councilman John Zambrano. “We need to at least have some sort of a business base.”

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