We live in an extraordinarily beautiful place — one that needs nourishing to thrive.

Snohomish County is now the second fastest growing county in the nation, right behind Pierce County.

We have a diverse history, a diverse community, a diverse economy and a diverse future.

We are the ancestral homeland of the Tulalip, Stillaguamish, and Sauk-Suiattle Tribes.

We live in a globalized world and will be left behind if we aren’t competing. As a region, we need to do better in the competition for global investment dollars and business opportunities.

Our economy runs the gamut from high tech aerospace to equally high tech but more traditional agriculture. Our job as public officials is to make sure we have planned ahead well enough to maintain our diversity and expand opportunities where we can.

We have a well-trained work force, a base of good jobs and the best quality of life.

Our region stacks up very well against any in the world.

Snohomish County is expecting an additional 200,000 people to move here over the next 20 years. That means more people on roads, more pressure on the housing market, more people needing good jobs.

We must prepare for that future, the future we choose, or be subject to the future that happens to us.

As of January, the unemployment rate in the county was 3.7 percent, according to the state of Washington. We are second behind only King County in the state. If we want to maintain that level of employment, we must be looking ahead to create jobs that will sustain our current levels of economic activity.

We are seeing a shift in the aerospace industry with the development of systems that are moving work to automated construction rather than human workers. We expect some of our major employers to continue to shed jobs over the coming years.

Last year, I launched an economic development initiative. We established nine specific sectors and assigned a lead within Snohomish County government for each sector.

The sectors are:

• Aerospace

• Agriculture, Fisheries & Forest Products

• Technology

• Trade & Business

• Military & Defense

• Recreation & Tourism

• Energy & Sustainability

• Arts, Culture and Film

• Education, Life Sciences and Global Health 

The initiative will help us target specific areas of opportunity, including identifying the county’s roles and opportunities in the advancement of each sector with county staff members tasked with developing strategies around each sector to partner with other jurisdictions, locally, nationally and globally to promote each sectors.

Opportunities for collaboration and innovation don’t happen just by chance.

We are looking for ways to make our county and region more competitive globally. We need to facilitate those discussions. We have no choice but to succeed.

Dave Somers published this editorial in his first digital newsletter that was released last week. He co-hosted a joint regional economic development summit yesterday, May 8, in conjunction with executives from King and Pierce counties, bringing together chambers of commerce from across the tri-county region.

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