ARLINGTON – Elected officials from the cities of Arlington, Marysville and the Port of Everett gathered at a new cider taproom in Arlington Wednesday to sign a landmark pact to work together to bring new economic opportunity, high-paying jobs and an expanded tax base to the region.
The taproom was an appropriate venue because it is one of the newest food processing facilities centrally located within the designated 4,000-acre manufacturing and industry hub near Arlington Municipal Airport.
At the ceremony, the mayor and three port commissioners signed a joint memorandum of understanding to memorialize the multi-agency partnership. Many agency officials and community partners attended, taking tours and sharing their visions for the CIC.
Arlington Mayor Barb Tolbert they are looking forward to having the economic tools and knowhow available from the port to expand the tax base, while helping create the 25,000 jobs forecasted within the CIC.
“We’re looking forward to the assets that the port can bring, the challenging parts of economic development, which is bringing in the infrastructure, and bringing in the right type of planning that needs to be done,” she said.
Marysville Mayor Jon Nehring said if the cities hadn’t stuck to their vision for an industrial manufacturing hub 15 years ago, the landscape could have looked a lot different.
“I’ve sat in meetings as a councilmember and had an individual tell me this will never attract manufacturing to this area. You need to rezone it for housing and call it a day.”
Nehring said he took a trip last summer, visiting different parts of the country. In many places, he said, “People and industries were trying to leave, the lights are dimming, and they’re not only not building roads, but not fixing the roads that they have.”
“We need to savor this time and understand the moment that we’re in that we’re going to look back twenty years from now and go, we got it right,” he said.
Through the agreement, the port is positioned to bring more expertise to the table such as financing options and more grant opportunities, planning and environmental support, regulatory strategy and possible expansion of the Foreign Trade – or Trade Free – Zone.
Port Commission President Glen Bachman said Snohomish County is one of only a few in the state that lack a county-wide port district, inadvertently putting the unique economic tools specific to ports out of reach.
Strategically located between Seattle and the Canadian border along the Interstate 5 corridor, the CIC represents the second largest Manufacturing Industrial Center (MIC) in Snohomish County with just over 4,000 acres; 57% in Arlington and 43% in Marysville. The area includes more than 1,700 available acres offering manufacturing and light industrial use potential, including a mix of partially developed, redevelopable and vacant sites.
The bulk of property and proximity to key transportation assets like I-5, state highways, Arlington Municipal Airport, BNSF Railways, and the Port of Everett Seaport make this area an attractive business opportunity.
The Port has been working with both Cities since 2018 and has found that a more official partnership could lend itself to greater participation and support of their local projects. Other partner agencies, including Snohomish County, Greater Seattle Partners and Economic Alliance Snohomish County, have also been major supporters, helping the CIC earn official recognition as a Regional MIC by the Puget Sound Regional Council – one of only 10 recognized state-wide.
The MIC designation provides federal, state and local infrastructure funding preference to the area. This, coupled with the major tax advantages from State-approved property tax exemptions, expedited permitting, and the federal Opportunity Zone designation, has businesses highly motivated to locate in the CIC as evidenced by significant deal making on available lands over the last year.
The agreement will also give the city and port room to evaluate agreements or leases within the CIC for job development, and partner with Washington State University for an incubator for the food processing and seafood industries, along with a possible center in robotics.
Arlington Schools Superintendent Chrys Sweeting also spoke at the signing event to launch a summer internship program for local junior and senior high school students. In the first year, the program hopes to partner with 20 local businesses with 30 students. The students will work 90 hours over the summer and earn 0.5 credits.
Students will be able to connect with local employers to build career-specific skills, gain work experience and help figure out their future career direction.
“It is really important for our students to have hands on, real life experience that is authentic and meaningful,” she said. The district and Arlington plan to host five internships each, and encouraging businesses to join in.
Businesses participating in the internship program will benefit from exposing high school students to real world work experiences, familiarizing them with their workplace, which can lower training time, recruiting costs, and turnover rates.