Business, jobs flocking to MIC

MARYSVILLE – One of the best ways to circumvent that horrible mess on I-5 every day is to avoid it by working close to home.

In the past, that’s been tough because of low wages locally, but not anymore.

Even before its official designation the Arlington Marysville Manufacturing Industrial Center is bringing in businesses and family wage jobs to the area.

Marysville Mayor Jon Nehring said that he just welcomed WEB Industries and its 75 jobs to the area Tuesday. It supplies Boeing with aerospace carbon fiber composite parts. A fish processing plant is being constructed, and there are others in the works or already up and running.

Even more businesses have arrived in Arlington’s part of the MIC, which expects to get official designation from the Puget Sound Regional Council June 27, making it eligible for federal funding help for infrastructure and marketing.

Arlington Mayor Barb Tolbert said at a panel discussion at the Marysville library that nine new businesses are building in their section of the MIC. The highlight is a spec project built by SMARTCAP Opportunity Zone Fund, LLC that’s filled with three businesses that will employ 296 workers. The project at full build-out will feature three buildings totaling 227,341 square feet. Right next door is a Swire Coca-Cola beverage distribution plant that will have 220 workers.

Many other businesses already are located in the MIC. “Companies just started coming,” Nehring said. “These are the types of job where you can own a home.”

The 4,000 acres in the MIC starts around 128th in Marysville and ends north of the Arlington Airport.

The number of jobs coming to this area in the next two decades is almost an embarrassment of riches. And Tolbert said it will go beyond that.

“There are thirty-five years of construction jobs out there,” she said, thanks to the number of road projects planned.

Tolbert said she’s glad to see these jobs coming because there is too much poverty in Arlington.

“This will provide economic equality so people can build a better life,” she said.

It also will mean a better quality of life at home, instead of wasting hours tied up in traffic commuting to and from work.

“They can participate in family life, which is important to our future,” she said, adding the fabric of family life has been suffering.

Personally, she’s happy because her grandchildren won’t have to move out of the area to find jobs. “That would break my heart,” she said.

Nehring said he’s been working for family wage jobs for years. “Few issues touch a family more than good-paying jobs,” he said.

He used to commute to West Seattle for a job. “It was terrible, and it’s worse now,” he said.

Tolbert and Nehring convinced their cities to keep the MIC area zoned light industrial and manufacturing for years, and it’s now paying off. Some infrastructure already is in place, such as a regional stormwater pond, high-speed fiber and a tax credit for qualifying businesses. To help with traffic, 172nd will be widened and in six years there will be an interchange at 156th and I-5. A Swift busline is coming in 2027.

Nehring said right now Marysville is a bedroom community – where people live because of cheaper housing, but work elsewhere for better pay. “We’re farming out jobs,” he said.

But, like Tolbert, he said it’s so much better when people can work locally and spend time with family.

He added that this effort has had more clout by partnering with Arlington, Snohomish County and others.

“This is too big to peck away at individually,” he said, adding they’ve been able to get more money from state and federal governments, bringing back to the area tax money locals paid.

Tolbert, who said 40 percent of those working at MIC sites now are local, added that the new jobs are not only high-paying, but also produce products important to our country.

“This isn’t your grandfather’s manufacturing job,” she said. “They’re no longer dirty jobs.”

Nehring added, “We need to funnel our kids into those jobs.”

Training

The key to that is getting a trained workforce. At that same meeting, County Councilman Nate Nehring and Herman Calzadillas, employment solutions manager at Everett Community College, talked about that.

Nate Nehring is working with the local trades industry, the Marysville School District and many others to form a Regional Apprentice Pathways program at Marysville-Pilchuck High School.

He said the trade industries are desperate for employees locally so they want to help train students so they can more-quickly get into the field. Electricians, carpenters and laborers are starting the program, but plumbers, pipe-fitters and machinists say, “We want in, too.”

The mayor’s son said schools have pushed college so hard the past few decades that, “Other alternative pathways to a successful career have not been marketed.”

RAP would get students not only a high school diploma, but also a college credential that would help them get into apprenticeship programs.

RAP has received a commitment from the state for continued funding and the county has chipped in $200,000. The trades have donated equipment. The only hold-up to starting in the fall is the building at M-P needs improvements, and where that money will come from is unknown. However, the plan at this point is to use other classrooms at M-P at least to start RAP, the younger Nehring said.

Calzadillas said the trades need to do a better job of connecting to students.

“Manufacturing is a big secret. They need to open the curtains” to the different jobs available, he said.

Calzadillas said the trades are in such a need for workers that they sometimes are lowering their standards, for instance maybe requiring a credential and not an AA degree. Some who have hands-on transferable skills make it; others do not.

EvCC has continuing education classes that can help, along with its Advanced Manufacturing Training & Education Center that, “Mirrors the need” of the industry.

“Industry is more automated,” he said of how challenging it can be.

What’s next?

In closing, Tolbert said Nate Nehring tore down walls between trades and schools. “These groups did not work together,” she said.

Now, the community needs to take advantage of the situation.

The county councilman said school counselors need to talk to more kids about trades being a legitimate career path.

“There need to be pathways for all kids,” Tolbert said. “As many ways as possible; give them a lot of options.”

What’s there?

New in Marysville’s MIC – Northside shoe manufacturing, Aviation Technical Services, Colstrand commercial fishing boat equipment. Coming: Reese Construction, a fish processing plant and WEB Industries.

New in Arlington’s MIC – R&L Carriers cross dock terminal, Dantrawl maritime, Commercial Aircraft Interiors aerospace, The IFH Group steel kiosk manufacturing, Case Marine, Morel Industries metal foundry, Dungeness Gear Works maritime, Swire Coca-Cola beverage distribution, SMARTCAP (Proctor aerospace, Progressive Automation and Elemental Cidery), Rolling Farms I-502 production and processing and Global Machine Works manufacturing.

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