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

Susan McLaughlin

Recent conversations during “coffee talks with the director” have touched on Edmonds’ growth strategies. We have discussed divergent growth scales; i.e. what level of growth will allow Edmonds to prosper while retaining our identity, particularly around environmental protection, diversity and character?

Although the word “thrive” can be interpreted differently depending on lived experiences, we must collectively ensure that “Edmonds for All” offers a high quality of life that is resilient and inclusive, as well as prospering. The theme for the coming week is Economic growthand we seek community feedback on your service and retail needs, as well as public thoughts on employment.

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

“Vision 2050 envisions economic growth and opportunity that create widespread prosperity and well-paying 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.”

— PSRC 2050 Vision Plan

The existing chapter of the city’s comprehensive economic growth plan highlights Edmonds’ strengths and challenges. Below are a few data points (2013 Census) that I find particularly interesting and relevant as we enter the visioning phase of our next 20-year plan:

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

– The service sector provides 70% of our jobs, which is strong and significantly higher than neighboring cities.

– Retail trade is the second largest sector of employment, accounting for 12.3% of all jobs; however, a significant number of these jobs are held 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 evident 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 less well paid that are essential. to our service and retail sectors.

As we plan for the next 20 years of economic growth in Edmonds, what services are essential to have in Edmonds? Are there any retail categories that are missing? And how can we achieve a healthy balance between employment and housing while securing gainful employment in our city?

There was a recent article in Seattle weather on rising rental costs in the Puget Sound area. The article reports how much a minimum wage worker (who earns $14.49/hour) in Washington would have to work each week to pay typical rent. An average worker in Snohomish County would have to work 92 hours/week to afford a one-bedroom apartment and 109 hours/week for a two-bedroom apartment. If you add commuting hours to these calculations, as workers travel further afield to find affordable housing, you can see how this not only erodes quality of life, but also makes it harder to find labor. labor willing to spend those hours at lower wages. .

While low-wage workers may be commuting, the pandemic has allowed some high-wage workers to stay home, and many believe this could be a permanent change. For those able to do so, this change should benefit regional traffic congestion, and the time saved by not commuting may allow these workers to spend more time shopping, eating and to spend otherwise locally in Edmonds.

Many economic campaigns focus on “buy local”, but perhaps we can expand this concept to “live local”. There is an urban planning concept that has been widely publicized during the pandemic called the “15-minute city” where most daily needs can be met on foot or by bicycle from residents’ homes. The pandemic has made many suburban towns consider this a reality, and I can definitely see this concept at hand in Edmonds.

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

— By Susan McLaughlin, Director of Development Services at Edmonds

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