Workshop participants give feedback on the city’s economic development vision
The community survey is available throughout the month of July.
Mercer Island’s economic development vision was one of many items under focus during the city’s comprehensive plan update and was highlighted during a recent online community workshop.
About 20 Island residents and entrepreneurs participated in the June 30 rally — the first of three events addressing the area of economic development — and weighed in in the polls on their vision for sustainable growth of the local economy from now on. Participants’ thoughts on the strengths of the current economy and the need for improvement were all on the table.
On the business front, participants cited among their priority needs: having local places to shop and find entertainment, business retention and expansion, and improving the quality and design of building. Eighty percent of participants want to see new businesses come to town and said improvements can be made regarding business authorization and licensing processes.
The Washington State Growth Management Act (GMA) requires the city to update its plan by June 30, 2024, in accordance with city resolution documents, and the plan will cover the years 2024. -2044.
At the workshop, Principal Urban Planner Adam Zack noted that the overall plan “is a document that articulates the vision, goals and policies that the city has adopted to prepare for the changes expected over the next 20 years.” .
Alison Van Gorp, the city’s deputy director of community planning and development, said in a previous Journalist story that the plan is the city’s growth vision and roadmap for housing and economic development, transportation, utilities, environment, parks and more.
Feedback that participants provided to city staff and members of BERK Consulting at the workshop will be presented to staff and an economic development working group, which will be comprised of two planning commissioners and three members of the city council. Zack said they will consider this idea when drafting the economic development element of the overall plan.
An online survey will be available throughout July for the city to gather additional information about the city’s economy, shopping areas, and shopping and service needs from community members who live and work on the island. The survey is available at https://tinyurl.com/4usn5c3b.
Ann Mueller of BERK Consulting noted of the workshop polls and survey, “We need to hear from the public in order to help shape what the economic development element will look like and what the vision will be. It is a vital and necessary part of this development and any update to the compensation plan.
City staff and BERK consultants conducted 21 interviews with business owners, residents and others from March through May and learned that people feel there needs to be a stronger connection between the business world and the community as a whole, as well as a greater variety of goods and services available. One of the main goals that emerged from the interviews was for people to support the economic development of the island, particularly in the downtown area.
Diverting briefly from the discussion of economic development, Zack felt it was necessary to educate residents about a crucial aspect of the housing element of the overall plan: “It is important to note that during this plan update, no change in residential zoning or density.”