Business booming in north county, summit participants told

MARYSVILLE – Leaders of four major economic engines in North Snohomish County shared that business is booming at a Business Summit Tuesday.

The leaders shared some of the major projects they are working on and some of the roadblocks they are facing.

City of Marysville

Mayor Jon Nehring talked about the Manufacturing Industrial Center and an interchange at 156th by 2025 to deal with the traffic.

As for roadblocks, he said infrastructure is always a problem, as it takes a long time to build and costs a lot of money. Nehring said the city has spent years planning for growth, and it’s exciting to see things come to fruition. He said partnerships have been key.

He said congestion will be relieved some in 2019 when the I-5 shoulder will be used as an extra lane from North Everett to Marysville. He said Highway 529 onramp and offramps will come soon after. He said traffic relief “never happens ahead of time. It’s not until the problem hits a critical stage.”

Nehring said unfunded mandates hurt development and that should be an issue in the Nov. 6 election.

Tulalip Economic Development Corp.

CEO Russell Steele talked about a water park that would be the largest in North America, with a 500-room hotel, that is up to five years away. He also talked about a cannibas lab in Arlington that could move there. The tribes are also looking into an indoor lettuce farm and working on an opioid and Alzheimer study.

Steele said he’s concerned about employment at the Water Park and other upcoming businesses because unemployment right now is so low – 3.5 percent. He said the Tulalip Resort Casino is short 120 workers because of the low jobless rate. He said the state Department of Transportation said it would need to raise taxes $2.25 per gallon to do all the road work needed in the state.

Port of Everett-Mukilteo

Chief Financial Officer John Carter said the port has the largest public marina on the West Coast and is the second-largest port in the state, behind Seattle-Tacoma. Two-thirds of its business is related to cargo, and the demand is there to take more and larger ships. It’s also developing its waterfront with a project including four restaurants, a hotel and 260 apartments. It also hosts numerous Navy ships.

He said Army Corp of Engineers water regulations inhibit growth, as does the remediation required to rebuild old mill sites. Tariffs also are a concern as Russia has been a key customer.

Carter said he’s excited about working with the growing business opportunities in North County. He also expressed the need to protect the Navy station in Everett.

Carter mentioned some congestion could be relieved if semi-trucks with empty containers could use barges instead of I-5. He also said larger air cargo at Paine Field could relieve more congestion.

Carter said more agriculture products need to come here directly from Mexico, rather than going through bottled-up California.

And he said the legislature needs to stop taking money meant for environmental cleanups and using it for other purposes.

Economic Alliance of Snohomish County

President and CEO Patrick Pierce talked about the need to keep Boeing here in building its newest aircraft as that company provides billions of dollars to the region. By supporting the big guy, he said, its helps the many little guys who work with Boeing.

Pierce also expressed concern about tariffs. Lack of housing and trained work force are other concerns. He said he is excited about the MIC, as it will bring jobs here and allow businesses to “escape the craziness of King County.”

He said he’s excited to build on at Paine Field to make this area an even hotter destination. He said local children need to be taught the skills to get jobs here. And he’s excited about the new innovation center coming to Arlington.

Pierce said, “Congestion sucks, but it’s better than the alternative” like in Detroit. “It’s a good problem to have.”

Pierce said businesses need to be more diverse to reflect the citizenry, and that would happen with more partnerships, such as with Mexico.

He said brownfield cleanup needs to be a priority. It not only cleans up the environment, but also puts the land back on the tax roles.

“It’s a win-win, and it grows jobs,” he said.

In other news at the Business Summit put on at the Opera House by the Marysville-Tulalip Chamber of Commerce:

•Anton Stetner talked about the do’s and don’ts of social media. He said 73 percent of the public watches You Tube videos, 68 percent are on Facebook and Instagram is the fastest-growing of all.

He advised the crowd to interact with the public, don’t just tell them stuff. Tell your story in a variety of ways, such as being funny, solving problems, telling them how to do something and educating them.

He said to create a social media mafia you can rely on to like, comment and share your information. And create a content calendar and stick to it, using videos, blogs and so on. •Lee Alley shared information on Free Google Services. He said business owners can go online at google.com/business and update their Google directory to make it read more like you want it. If you submit posts your business can actually move up in the directory.

•31 vendors were part of the event. Jane Hogland of Health Benefits Washington was one of them. Based out of Lake Goodwin, she said they insure 50 small businesses in the area. She said they keep rates down by pairing workers with trusts set up for different industries.

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