Since my first day in office, nearly 8 years ago, I have advocated for a robust visioning process to be poised for the opportunities that would unfold after we emerged from the great recession. I have the belief that the world is filled with “problem identifiers” but as elected leaders we must be skilled “problem solvers”. While individually we each have expertise to contribute, we must collectively work with our businesses and community to carry our city forward.
In January 2016 the City Council and Mayor committed to updating our city vision and along with 22 citizens from diverse backgrounds and cultures, we embarked on “Envision Everett 2037”. The committee, with tremendous support from city staff, did excellent work in identifying numerous recommended actions organized in 9 areas of focus.
Economic Development Crime & Substance Abuse
Housing Arts, Culture & Recreation
Education Parks & the Environment
Transportation Civic Engagement
The recommendations are “spot on” and include “five-year” measures of success, in other words, they identify issues and point us in the right direction to move forward. I believe that council and the next Mayor must take this much further. We need to define the “how to”, “how much” and “when” for each of the recommended actions! In essence, we need to broadly engage our community in a process that develops ownership and understanding because almost every item needs funding to make it happen. In fact it could be stated that the only revenue generator is “economic development” and even there we must invest to reap the benefits. If that is not enough, we must also determine how and where we will welcome over 60,000 new residents over the next 25 years.
We have the opportunity to intentionally build upon and integrate the positive impact and success of our work over the past 8 years. We must leverage our success anchoring a 4-year university, establish commercial air service, spark economic development on the river and waterfront, competing for the next generation of aerospace technology in the 777 composite wing plant, and taking on the tragedy of homelessness through the community streets initiative, just to name a few.
By taking this next step, we transition from “problem identifiers” to “problem solvers”. We step from looking at each challenge into a silo and instead lay them all out to prioritize them collectively. Image a plan that resembles the “Metro Everett” plan but expands represent our entire city identifying the significant potential for each region of our great city! The plan itself would become an economic development tool to invite new businesses, small and large, to come to Everett join our dream!