April 18, 2024 12:53 pm

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Economic Alliance shares forecast for Snohomish County, presents awards

TULALIP—The Economic Alliance of Snohomish County shared its economic forecast and presented five awards to key community members at its annual meeting on Wednesday, February 21, at Tulalip Resort and Casino.

The event kicked off with a networking lunch in the resort’s gorgeous Orca Ballroom before Wendy Poischbeg, Interim President and CEO, took the stage to say a few words sharing a story of economic resilience using the example of a facility in Stanwood, which was vacated by Twin City Foods during the pandemic and now occupied by plant-based protein company No Meat Factory.

“With the promise of creating 250 new jobs by 2024 No Meat Factory represents a new chapter for Stanwood and Snohomish County,” said Poischbeg. “EAC was pivotal in this transformation providing a comprehensive support that ranged from market research and site selection to workforce development and permit assistance. Our collaboration with local educational institutions and other organizations to create targeted training programs and job fairs was instrumental a skilled workforce for our friends at the No Meat Factory. This story is a testament to what we can achieve when we work together as a community.”

Mel Sheldon, Councilman for Tulalip Tribes, and ESC Board of Trustee member, then followed Poischbeg’s remarks by reading the land acknowledgment.

Economic forecast snohomish
Mel Sheldon, Councilman for Tulalip Tribes, and ESC Board of Trustee member. Lynnwood Times | Kienan Briscoe

“Second I’d like to acknowledge all of you for the work you’ve done in Snohomish County,” said Sheldon. “Your work, your commitments, your beliefs – you made Snohomish County the best county in the state of Washington.”

Next up to speak, before Snohomish County’s economic forecast, was Mike Burke, Senior Vice President for Banner Bank, and Brad Zaback, Vice President and General Manager for the Boeing 787 Program.

“It might sound trite to say we’ve been living through unusual — actually I think I prefer the term interesting — economic times but it certainly is true,” said Burke. “Whether you’re a college graduate or CEO what’s happening with the economy influences the financial decisions you’re making every day, both consciously and sometimes unconsciously. So it’s great for us to get together like this to learn as much as we can with the goal of making better and more informed decisions.”

Zaback noted the Boeing company is continually working on bringing the 777x to market to keep Everett vibrant for decades to come, as well as the north line for the 737 which would bring teammates from Renton to Everett which currently employs approximately 35,000.

Regarding Alaska Airlines flight 1282, Zaback said the following:

“We, at the Boeing Company, from the safety of every passenger that gets on that airplane, there is a Boeing core value around safety. I know this event, while we regret what it cost us to our customers and those passengers, we will come out of this better,” said Zaback. “We’ve had quality stand downs in Renton, and we’ve completed the first in Everett of many to come. We will become stronger because of this and remain in this community going forward.”

Economic Forecast for Snohomish County

Dr. Anneliese Vance-Sherman, Chief Labor Economist for Washington State shared Snohomish County’s economic forecast.

Economic forecast snohomish
Dr. Anneliese Vance-Sherman

Historically, during times of economic weakness, the number of jobs drops then predictably bounces back in a “gentle wave”, Vance-Sherman noted, but 2020 was an unusual circumstance given the unusual conditions that were the COVID-19 outbreak and subsequent closure of several statewide businesses and operations.

“Rather than the usual gentle wave we experience, we fell off a cliff,” said Dr. Vance-Sherman. “We lost, in Washington State, about 12 percent of all jobs…that’s 430,000 jobs, six years’ worth of job growth, gone in two months.”

However, Dr. Vance-Sherman noted that employment growth began to surge again (in a V-shaped pattern) but has been slightly tapering off since initially bouncing back from pandemic recovery. What’s unusual about the current labor market, she added, is most people remained in their community and, by extension, remained in the labor force but stepped back from working.

The way Dr. Vance-Sherman interprets this is that the region had a V-shaped recovery in terms of the number of jobs, residents figured things out and then when demand surged, people weren’t quite ready to return to work.

At a statewide level, employment has returned to pre-pandemic levels but the region is still experiencing population growth so there’s this “gap,” Dr. Vance-Sherman said.

Economic forecast snohomish
Picture of the V-shaped recovery Dr. Vance-Sherman shared during her Snohomish County economic forecast presentation. Lynnwood Times | Kienan Briscoe.

According to the Washington State Employment Security Department, Snohomish County’s 2021 labor force averaged 437,145, with an unemployment rate of 5.0 percent. Within this estimate, 415,354 county residents were counted among the employed and 21,791 were counted among the unemployed. In April 2020, Snohomish County’s unemployment rate reached a peak of 19.5 percent. As of April 2022, the unemployment rate hit a record low of 2.3 percent.

“For business [the unemployment rate] means it’s a challenging time because businesses are competing with each other for a smaller labor force,” said Dr. Vance-Sherman.

The Bureau of Labor Statistic’s Job Opening and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLT) shows that layoffs are still historically low and “quits” are beginning to drop, which ties directly to jobs openings. If this trend continues, it could mean bright times for the region’s economy but not quite yet.

Different industries were affected differently as well, Vance-Sherman noted. Leisure and Hospitality, for example (restaurants, hotels, and entertainment venues) dropped about 40% around the pandemic but are returning to pre-pandemic levels where other services such as hairdressers, dry cleaners, auto mechanics were much slower to recover. This is due to the changes people have made in how they consume certain products with many people still working from home and having less of a need for services such as dry cleaning.

Snapshot of Economic Alliance Snohomish County’s achievements in 2023

Despite the unusual labor force climate, Economic Alliance Snohomish County has continued to do its part in supporting local businesses and stimulate the local economy.

Economic forecast snohomish
Wendy Poischbeg, Interim President and CEO of Economic Alliance of Snohomish County presenting the organization’s achievements. Lynnwood Times | Kienan Briscoe.

In 2023 Economic Alliance Snohomish County took charge of over 147 pivotal projects among which it engaged in over 109 business retention and expansion interactions directly connecting with local businesses to fortify their foundation and fuel their expansion.

Additionally, EASC’s strategy included 38 recruitment projects aimed at infusing the local economy with fresh energy and innovation.

“What that means is we go out, we meet with your businesses, we identify their problems, and then we solve them,” said Wendy Poischbeg.

In 2023 the Economic Alliance participated in major trade shows like the Select USA, Paris Airshow, and Hannover Messe, presenting the potential of the region to worldwide audience of investors.

Washington State Governor Jay Inslee and ZeroAvia CEO and Founder Val Miftakhov at the Paris Air Show on June 19, 2023, signing additional investment by the state to support the company’s expansion at Paine Field in Everett building upon our region’s leadership in sustainable aviation. SOURCE: Governor Jay Inslee.

The Economic Alliance directly invested $72.5 million into Snohomish County in 2023 including the SAF R&D Center at Paine Field, Memorial Stadium, Compass Health facility, Regional Apprenticeship Pathways, and EVCC Baker Hall, as well as $554.1 million in statewide investments with benefits to Snohomish County including ADO funding, Housing Trust Fund, tourism marketing, military installations study, early learning, broadband, and career connected learning.

The Economic Alliance also supported key federal advocacy efforts on permit reform and research and development tax amortization in both Olympia and Washington D.C.

As far as STEM, in 2023, Economic Alliance secured $1.5 million in American Rescue Plan Act funding for SnoCo Futures Program, engaged with 1,500 students, fostered 200 connections with businesses, and held 11 multigenerational financial aid access workshops.

Economic Alliance Award Recipients

After a keynote presentation by Michael DeRosa, Co-Founder and CMO of Marysville-based aerospace company Gravitics, Wednesday’s event concluded by announcing the following award recipients:

  • Henry M. Jackson Award: Washington Secretary of State Steve Hobbs
  • John M. Fluke Sr. Award: Mark Duffy, President and CEO of Mountain Pacific Bank
  • Elson S. Floyd Award: Former Arlington Mayor Barbara Tolbert
  • Opportunity Lives Here Award: Historic Downtown Snohomish Associates
  • STEM Rising Star Award: Katie Larios, Mountlake Terrace High School Senior
Economic forecast snohomish
Former Arlington Mayor Barbara Tolbert receiving the Elson S, Floyd award. SOURCE: Economic Alliance of Snohomish County.

Also in attendance at Wednesday’s event was Arlington City Council members Yvonne Gallardo-Van Ornam, Heather Logan, and Jan Schuette, Arlington Mayor Don Vanney, Edmonds Mayor Mike Rosen, Port Commissioner of Edmonds David Preston, Port of Everett Commissioner David Simpson, Everett Councilwoman Paula Rhyne, Superintendent for Everett Public Schools Ian Saltzman, Snohomish County PUD Commissioners Sid Logan, Toni Olsen, and Rebecca Wolfe, Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers, Snohomish Councilman Tom Merrill, Mukilteo Councilman Mike Dixon, Port of Everett Commissioner Tom Stiger, and Snohomish County Councilwoman Meghan Dunn as well as several business executives.

The event was sponsored by Banner Bank, Alaska Airlines, Herald Media, the Boeing Company, KRKO radio, Tulalip Resort Casino and Tulalip tribes, and Washington State University Everett.

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