Categories: Economic News

Week 3 of the Edmonds Comprehensive Plan Visioning Process: Economic Growth

Susan McLaughlin

Recent conversations during “coffees with the director” have touched on Edmonds’ growth strategies. We talked about divergent growth scales; that is, what level of growth will allow Edmonds to thrive while maintaining our identity, especially in terms of environmental protection, diversity and character?

While the word “thriving” may be interpreted differently based on lived experiences, collectively we must ensure that “Everyone’s Edmonds” provides a high quality of life and is resilient and inclusive, so how prosperous This coming week’s topic is economic developmentand we’re asking for community input on your service and retail needs, as well as the public’s views on employment.

Edmonds is a member of the Puget Sound Regional Council, an agency that includes more than 100 entities in our region. As a regional partner, we support the region’s ‘Vision 2050’ to deliver an exceptional quality of life, opportunities for all, connected communities, a spectacular environment and an innovative and thriving economy.

“Vision 2050 plans for economic growth and opportunities that create widespread prosperity and decent-wage jobs across the region. The plan encourages more dispersed job growth, particularly in Snohomish, Pierce and Kitsap counties to provide greater access to employment and a better balance between jobs and housing.”

— Plan Vision 2050 of the PSRC

The existing chapter of the city’s Comprehensive Plan on economic growth highlights Edmonds’ strengths and challenges. Below are some data points (2013 census) that I find particularly interesting and relevant as we begin the visioning phase of our next 20-year plan:

– 80% of Edmonds workers travel elsewhere for work. Based on 2011-2013 data used in the latest comprehensive plan, Edmonds jobs employ only 20% of local residents in the labor force.

– The service sector provides 70% of our jobs, which is strong and substantially higher than in nearby cities.

– Retail trade is the second sector of employment, with 12.3% of all jobs; however, a substantial number of these jobs are filled by residents of other communities.

– Vehicle sales accounted for 32.3% of total retail sales for businesses with locations in Edmonds.

When I read these data points, it is clear that our ability to align with the PSRC’s Vision 2050 will depend on our ability to create better paying jobs across all sectors and provide housing options for workers in lower-wage jobs that are essential. in our service and retail sectors.

As we plan for the next 20 years of economic growth in Edmonds, what services are vital to have in Edmonds? Are there retail categories missing? And how can we achieve a healthy balance between work and housing while ensuring living wage jobs in our city?

There was a recent article on The Seattle Times on rising rental costs in the Puget Sound region. The article reports how much a minimum wage worker (making $14.49 an hour) in Washington would have to work weekly to pay the typical rent. An average worker in Snohomish County would have to work 92 hours a week to pay for a one-bedroom apartment and 109 hours a week for a two-bedroom apartment. If you add commuting hours to these calculations, as workers travel farther to find affordable housing, you can see how it not only erodes quality of life, but also makes it harder to find work. ‘work willing to dedicate these hours for lower wages. .

While lower-wage workers may be commuting more, the pandemic has allowed some higher-wage workers to stay home, and many speculate that this could be a permanent change. For those who can, this change should be beneficial to regional traffic congestion, and the time saved by not commuting may allow those workers to spend more time shopping, dining and otherwise spending locally in Edmonds.

Many economic campaigns focus on “buying local”, but perhaps we can expand this concept to “live locally”. There is an urban planning concept that was widely publicized during the pandemic called the “15-minute city” where most daily needs can be reached by walking or cycling from residents’ homes. The pandemic allowed many suburban towns to envision this as a reality, and I can certainly see this concept being within Edmonds’ reach.

So what is your vision for economic growth and prosperity? Tell us!

— By Susan McLaughlin, Edmonds Director of Development Services


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