About Project Concentrus

Introduction

This blog has been created as a 24-7-365 information-sharing tool to communicate with our working project team and interested external readers about our idea generation and collective learning throughout the Project Concentrus planning process.

What does “Project Concentrus” mean? It is a name designed to give identity to Snohomish County, Washington’s new planning, visioning, and engagement process to strengthen economic vitality across the County. “Concentrus” is an invented word that speaks to the need to concentrate and unify economic development efforts across the County to increase their impact and reduce their costs.

A variety of articles will be posted here relating to Snohomish County, its cities and towns, local companies, best practices and trends related to economic development and economic vitality, economic development organizations, chambers of commerce and their business services and advocacy work, small business development, and planned organizational change.

What is economic vitality? It is the “life-giving force” underlying Snohomish County’s economic base. Economic vitality is economic development plus all the other important business service, business advocacy, workforce development, small business assistance and entrepreneurial development, and community development activities that play a role in adding vitality to the economic life of the entire County, including its many cities, towns, and Indian tribes.

Project Concentrus Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Question 1: What is Project Concentrus?

Answer: It is an “open” engagement, planning, and decision-making process to strengthen economic vitality across Snohomish County by unifying, intensifying, and focusing the efforts of various countywide and community economic development, business service, and business advocacy organizations. Conversations began in early 2009, the consultants were hired in May 2010 and the process is expected to be concluded by November of this year, with implementation work extending into 2011.

Question 2: Who initiated Project Concentrus?

Answer: In consultation with a wide variety of public and private stakeholder groups, the project was initiated jointly by the Economic Development Council of Snohomish County, the Everett Area Chamber of Commerce, and the South Snohomish County Chamber of Commerce.

Question 3: Why was the process initiated?

Answer: It was initiated for three important reasons? First, Snohomish County’s current system of economic development, business service, and business advocacy organizations are not currently using their full “collaborative advantage” to position the County and its communities to develop their best economic and business development opportunities. Second, Snohomish County must do a better job of advocating its business and economic interests, increasing its clout within the Puget Sound region, and at the state and national levels. Finally, Snohomish County must develop a more cost-effective approach to sparking economic vitality in the future. Organizational budgets, leadership, staff professionals, and other resources must be focused on Snohomish County’s most important business growth, job creation, and countywide and community economic vitality opportunities.

Question 4: How is this process different than other efforts to strengthen Snohomish County’s economic base?

Answer: Earlier efforts have focused on improving the County’s economic development, business services, and business advocacy in more narrow and isolated ways. These earlier efforts were more traditional in their approach. Project Concentrus focuses on increasing the overall economic vitality of the County’s economic system and moving its economic development, business service, and business advocacy to a more inclusive, integrated, unified, and performance-based approach economic advancement. The focus on economic vitality sees the County’s economic system as a living system that must grow in a balanced and sustainable way, while serving the interrelated economic needs of businesses, local governments (cities and towns), institutions, and citizens.

Question 5: Who are the leaders of the Project Concentrus process, and what is the role of these leaders?

Answer: The process is led by a 25-member Oversight Committee, which contains public and private sector representatives from each of the three initiating organizations, and other leaders from Snohomish County’s business and community sectors. A list of the Oversight Committee members is found at the end of this FAQ document.

The key roles of the Oversight Committee are to: 1) guide the process from a leadership perspective; 2) examine the facts produced by the two project consultants  (Don Iannone and Dr. Zara Larsen) from Donald T. Iannone & Associates of Cleveland, Ohio; 3) invite and listen to the various ideas and views expressed by groups and individuals across the County; and 4) make balanced and effective decisions about how Snohomish County should organize itself to promote and assist future economic vitality at the countywide and community levels.

Question 6: Who is Donald T. Iannone & Associates (DTIA)?

Answer: DTIA is a highly experienced economic development consulting firm based in Cleveland, Ohio. The firm has helped clients with similar needs to Snohomish County, and it brings a deep national understanding of economic development organizations, programs, and strategies. DTIA is headed by Don Iannone, a 34-year veteran of the economic development field, who has worked on economic development consulting assignments in 33 states and several other countries. Dr. Zara Larsen, a highly experienced organizational change consultant from Tucson, Arizona, is a part of the DTIA team. Dr. Larsen brings major organizational development and change management experience from the corporate world. Together, Don Iannone and Zara Larsen bring the right skills and experience to help Snohomish County leaders achieve Project Concentrus’ objectives.

Question 7: Beyond the three initiating organizations, who else is involved in the process?

Answer: The process is very inclusive, and it will actively engage private and public sector leaders, business owners and executives, and citizens from all parts of the County, including leaders from large and small businesses, young professionals and emerging leaders, community chambers of commerce, Snohomish County  Government, Snohomish County cities and towns, the Tulalip Tribes, workforce development organizations, educational institutions, the ports, public service and utility service organizations, and tourism and downtown development groups.

Question 8: How will all these groups be engaged in the process?

Answer: Engagement opportunities will include: 1) monthly Oversight Committee meetings; 2) meetings with individual organization boards; 3) a series of community focus group meetings in the southern, central, eastern, and northern regions of the County; 4) one-on-one meetings and interviews with key public and private sector leaders; 5) a Web-based survey of citizens and businesses; and 6) regular email and website communication updates.

Question 9: What is the process being followed by Snohomish County leaders in Project Concentrus?

Answer: A 3-phase process is being followed. In the first phase (May-July), the County’s various stakeholder groups and citizens are being engaged and invited to share their ideas about the current situation and how to move forward in the future. Also in phase 1, the roles and responsibilities of the County’s various economic development and business advocacy groups will be studied. In the second phase (July-September), a series of decisions will be made by the Oversight Committee regarding future organizational approaches and priorities. These decisions will be supported by a review of relevant county and community economic development best practices from across the country. In phase 3, the final project recommendations approved by the Oversight Committee will be implemented. Public engagement will continue throughout phases 2 and 3.

Question 10: How can you share your ideas with us?

Answer: There are a number of ways you can do this. For one, email or call us directly and provide us with your ideas. Secondly, request that we add you to our mailing address to receive regular communications. Third, when the Web survey is launched, be sure to participate. Finally, invite us to visit your organization or community to dialogue about the project.

Contact Information:

* Deborah Knutson, EDC of Snohomish County

Phone: 425.248.4211

Email: dknutson@snoedc.org

* Louise Stanton-Masten, Everett Area Chamber of Commerce

Phone: 425.257.3222, x209

Email: louise@everettchamber.com

* Jean Hales, South Snohomish County Chamber of Commerce

Phone: 425.774.0507, x11

Email: jean@s2c3.com

Project Concentrus Oversight Committee

Sue Ambler, Workforce Development Council Snohomish County

Dom Amor, Puget Sound Energy

John Bell, Willis Hall Winery

Todd Brunner, Brunner Construction

John Caulfield, City of Mountlake Terrace

Rick Cooper, The Everett Clinic

Patty DeGroodt, Providence Regional Medical Center Everett

Crystal  Donner, Perteet Engineering

Joyce Eleanor, Community Transit

Stan Finley, Comcast

Allen Funk, The Herald

Steve Gilmore, The Boeing Company

Jean Hales, South Snohomish County Chamber of Commerce

Mayor Dennis Kendall, City of Marysville

Chris Knapp, Anderson Hunter Law Firm

Deborah Knutson, EDC of Snohomish County

Mark Lewinski, Kirtley-Cole Associates LLC

Cathy Reines, First Heritage Bank

Executive Aaron Reardon, Snohomish County

Caldie Rogers, Marysville Tulalip Chamber

Reid Shockey, Shockey/Brent, Inc.

Louise   Stanton Masten, Everett Area Chamber of Commerce

Mayor Ray Stephanson, City of Everett

Greg Tisdel, Tiz’s Door Sales

Rich White, The Boeing Company

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