Enumclaw updates economic plan, sets goals through 2021

Embracing a handful of success stories while amending certain tactics and eliminating others, the city of Enumclaw has revised its roadmap for economic prosperity.

Embracing a handful of success stories while amending certain tactics and eliminating others, the city of Enumclaw has revised its roadmap for economic prosperity.

The city – like all entities, big and small – recognizes the role economic development plays in maintaining a community’s quality of life. With that in mind, a strategic plan is always on the table that guides decisions related to creating jobs and helping businesses succeed in a still-rural environment.

It was 2012 when an Economic Development Task Force was first conceived. A group of local business owners and industry representatives spent two years coming up with a vision for the city, a document that received City Council blessing.

The formal Strategic Plan for Economic Development was never intended to be a one-time, one-size-fits-all guidebook. Rather, it was billed as “living document” that should be amended yearly as situations, circumstances and opportunities evolve.

While things were discussed in 2015, changes didn’t come until this year. As part of the once-a-decade amendment to the city’s comprehensive plan, the Strategic Plan received an official update. Those changes were adopted by the City Council earlier this month.

Among the success of the past two years, a council memo noted the establishment of a “buy local” campaign, amendments to the city’s commercial and industrial zoning code and a deferral program aimed at benefiting those who would develop housing for senior citizens. Additionally, the council formed a new Food, Beverage and Agriculture Committee.

A key element deleted from the economic strategy was the long-suffering Welcome Center. Plans for a multi-use facility dragged for more than a decade and progressed as far as the design phase before being scrapped.

A key change in the development strategy involves the Enumclaw Expo Center. A little more than a year ago the city handed management of the grounds and facilities to a local, nonprofit entity that has breathed new life into the operation. The city retained ownership of the 72-acre Expo Center, however.

The recently-adopted Strategic Plan for Economic Development, while continuing to be a “living document” up for periodic review, identifies goals for 2017 through 2021.

Four key concepts guide the adopted strategies:

• To create one or more facilities to assist entrepreneurs who would create agriculture-based products like cheese or wine. Such “incubators” are seen as a way to create businesses that add local jobs and draw tourist dollars.

• Taking steps to promote job growth and strengthen existing businesses, with the established medical and light industrial base as a starting point.

• Promoting Enumclaw as an ideal settling point for active retirees, using recreational amenities as a drawing card.

• Increasing the number of tourists and getting them to stay longer in the area. The emphasis is on capturing the time and attention of those passing through, rather than identifying Enumclaw as a destination.

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