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Snohomish making plan to retain businesses

SNOHOMISH — Focusing on keeping Snohomish strong economically using its rooted resources in tourism, agritourism and business relations is what’s in a strategic plan proposed by the city’s economic development consultant.
Consultant James Palmer gave a presentation to the City Council Sept. 5. Palmer was contracted by the city earlier this year to help the city’s Economic Development Committee create and help implement a plan.
Palmer noted the assets the city already has and can use to strengthen its economics, such as tourism, wedding venues, agritourism, Historic Downtown Snohomish and a variety of businesses.
The “low-hanging fruit” that is ripe for picking and expanding upon, Palmer said, was tourism and business relations.
The most important aspect of the plan, Palmer said, was business retention and expansion — called a “BRE program” by Palmer. It focuses on keeping businesses in town and helping them grow. Palmer said the city needs to make sure to keep that going to meet economic development strategies and goals. It includes keeping someone from the city always in touch with businesses.
“It’s really considered critical,” Palmer said. “It’s an important thing to keep that connection with businesses.”
Palmer will be creating a formal channel for the city to retain connections with local businesses. Palmer has been contacting businesses and said he’s about 10 percent into his worklist.
Palmer said the plan’s longevity will help future city staff and volunteers, as well as gather more strength with the help of interns from the University of Washington later this year, he surmised.
How does all of this affect the average Snohomish resident? Shopping local keeps sales tax revenue made from Snohomish businesses in Snohomish.
According to city finance director Debbie Burton, the city had $1,070,000 in sales tax revenue last quarter (June-July-August 2017) and year to date, the city has raised $2.734 million. This revenue helps make up the largest chunk of the city’s general fund. In August, Burton indicated the city is forecasting $4 million for sales tax revenues in 2018, but, she emphasized, “sales tax can be very volatile and unpredictable.”
Other ways economic development affects residents could be how tourism brings in revenue and visitors to town.
The city providing support and guidance for these areas could help benefit how responsive it is and what direction it goes, City Councilman Jason Sanders said about the presentation. Before being appointed onto the council, he chaired the city’s Economic Development Committee.
Palmer asked the City Council for input on the plan’s framework he presented, “because it’s important,” he said. “I’ve seen communities that don’t do economic development and they’ve suffered the consequences.”
He gave Puallyup as an example: it went through a high growth period without an economic plan, and the historic downtown suffered since the growth concentrated on the south end, creating a “mess,” Palmer said, that’s hard to navigate because that city did not project or regulate the growth.
A final report will be published in November and it will be up to the city to implement the plan.
“You have a great city and great community with a lot to offer here,” Palmer said. “Businesses… need to feel the love. I think the most important thing is if we can set up a strong retention and expansion (BRE) program, that will be a tremendous benefit.”


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