Economic development is often a priority for King County cities, but budget and funding restrictions may not allow them to accomplish long-term goals on schedule. To spur faster growth in these areas, the Port of Seattle has developed a grant program to assist cities in funding these projects.
Now in its third year, the Port of Seattle’s Economic Development Partnership (EDP) program allocated $795,900 to 25 King County cities in 2019.
The EDP is a non-competitive grant-matching fund that aims to assist cities outside of Seattle in the purist of economic development goals. The EDP also works alongside the port’s competitive Tourism Marketing Support Program.
Port of Seattle commissioner Stephanie Bowman said the goal of the program is to partner with cities on projects they have wanted to do, but haven’t had the funds to implement.
“We’ve set aside money for each of the cities based on population,” she said. “The smallest grant for economic development is $5,000, and the largest is $65,000.”
This year, Bothell received $18,000 for a feasibility study of a proposed destination boutique hotel, brewery or performing arts center adjacent to a recently acquired four-acre open space parcel. Kenmore got $22,920 to run the Kenmore Business Incubator and Business Accelerator training, to continue a commercial development capacity report and for new marketing for downtown.
Other Eastside cities
Kirkland was allocated $65,000 for the continued support of the Eastside business program Startup425 and Bellevue also received $65,000 for promotion of the Bellwether Arts Festival and the Grand Connection Corridor.
Redmond’s funding was $64,000 for business recruitment trade shows, outreach with businesses in Marymoor Village and quarterly economic updates.
Snoqualmie received $13,000 for several projects such as converting Historic Snoqualmie Walking Tour information into displays for the downtown area as well as supporting the local promotional organization Savor Snoqualmie. North Bend received $6,825 for marketing materials to attract companies that specialize in the outdoor recreation opportunities of the Valley.
Issaquah received $37,110 to support workforce retention through an outdoor recreation forum, a regional business forum, and the expansion of the Cultural Conversations program. Issaquah will also hold Chamber University workshops for owners of small businesses.
Multi-city partnerships such as the Innovation Triangle and Startup425 also received support from the program.
The grant was non-competitive so every city would get something, but the Port of Seattle also requires that the funding gets a 50 percent match from the cities. The funding for the EDP comes from the property tax collected by the port, Bowman said.
The port is listening to feedback from the cities to alter the program for future years, but Bowman said they had received positive comments from the cities. Any changes for the future would most likely be changes in the timing of funding.
“One thing I’d like to add on is an annual convening of the cities every year,” she said, adding that the cities can learn from each other by sharing how they have used their grant funds.