For years, Marysville Mayor Jon Nehring has been touting the city as a place to live, work and play.
He’s been right about living and playing. Now he’s right about working, too.
Thanks to an official designation made Thursday, the Cascade Industrial Center, formerly known as the Arlington Marysville Manufacturing and Industrial Center, is ripe to take off, providing family wage jobs for up to 25,000 people by 2040. There are already 8,000 people working there with many more to come soon.
The Puget Sound Regional Council made the CIC the region’s 10th designated regional manufacturing industrial center. MICs receive priority for federal transportation dollars, as they are expected to contribute significantly to regional economic and employment growth.
The CIC comprises over 4,000 acres, including more than 1,700 acres of developable, partially used and vacant sites in Arlington and Marysville.
Streamlined permitting and business-friendly incentives help recruit, retain and expand businesses in the CIC, including a 10-year city and county property tax exemption, no city business and occupation tax, a reduced state B&O tax for aerospace, general industrial, food processing and timber, customized worker training grants and Opportunity Zones that get federal support.
The mayors of Marysville and Arlington celebrated the PSRC designation, which capped an intense four-year process.
“Businesses will find affordability and an enviable quality of life for their employees,” Marysville Mayor Jon Nehring said. “Residents will gain the opportunity to trade their commutes for working closer to home.”
The cost of doing business here instead of to the south is also a factor, he said.
“North Snohomish County offers businesses and workers a naturally beautiful and enviable quality of life at a bargain price compared to Seattle and Bellevue,” Nehring said, adding the median home value in Marysville and Arlington is half the price than in Seattle.
He said investments made by his city and Arlington in stormwater detention and road work have been key to attracting businesses already to the CIC. Other infrastructure site benefits include high-speed fiber, rail lines, excellent freeway and highway access, Arlington Airport and nearby Port of Everett, he said.
The state has funded a new Interstate 5 freeway exit at 156th Street NE that will go straight to the center, starting in 2025. The state is also widening Highway 531, the east-west highway that runs through the business center starting in 2021.
“And newly opened passenger air service at nearby Paine Field is the icing on the transportation cake, making it easy to fly in and out within minutes instead of hours,” he said.
Arlington Mayor Barbara Tolbert also is excited.
“Our goal to benefit our residents with access to good employment opportunities close to home is now well on the way to being achieved.”
Arlington city councilwoman Jan Schuette said the biggest issue Arlington will be the need for more housing. Arlington officials anticipate 1,400 new housing units will have gone in by the end of this year, with 1,000 more in 2020.
The influx of jobs will also fuel the need for improved transportation infrastructure, which will benefit from prioritization funding within the CIC. Meanwhile, the buildout of other roads within the center is being funded by new manufacturers.
In some respects, the formal designation is almost anti-climactic since the manufacturer building bonanza was in full swing months before the ink was dry on PSRC documents.
“Commercial activity is already happening,” Arlington City Administrator Paul Ellis said, directing attention to the epicenter of construction happening east of the airport on private land.
SMARTCAP, Arlington’s first Opportunity Zone business taking advantage of the federal reinvestment tax break, is looking to occupy its first building next month. Tenants in the 92,000-square-foot facility include Proctor Aerospace, Progressive Automation and Elemental Cidery.
SMARTCAP Chief Executive Officer Tim Schoultz called the move to build in Arlington a tremendous opportunity in terms of availability and pricing – half the price for industrial square footage in the Seattle area.
“Last September, we really believed the area was ripe for opportunity,” Shoultz said. They expected to fill space with local tenants, but instead are drawing from places such as Woodinville and in Canada.
SMARTCAP backers had private funding in place within four hours of seeking investors, and were so convinced Arlington is primed for investment, they bought 11 more acres to the north to build three smaller buildings to attract a different type of tenants.
Shoultz said they are looking in Marysville and the other side of I-5, too. They expect to add up a million square feet in the region over the next 10 year.
The walls are being poured now and should be up soon at the 137,000-square-foot Swire Coca-Cola distribution center south of the Arlington Boys and Girls Club.
Dantrawl, a fishing and industrial supplies company, is underway with its building to the east of SMARTCAP. Redlined Industrial Park is pouring concrete for the first of what will be six buildings, and Cub Systems construction is also under way.
Away from the bonanza of activity just east of the airport, the 54-acre Gayteway Business Park’s first buildings are under construction, along with a pad-ready site that can handle construction for up to 325,000 square feet that backs up to the railroad.
Over near the new Arlington Valley Road, R&L Carriers will be constructing a 55,000-square-foot facility featuring a 60-door truck terminal, with office space and a maintenance shop.