Issaquah economic development manager departs for Burien

October 25, 2011

By Warren Kagarise

The top economic development official at City Hall departed Oct. 21 for a similar post in Burien.

Economic Development Manager Dan Trimble traded a decadeslong plan to redevelop the Issaquah business district for a chance to join a yearslong effort to redevelop downtown Burien.

“I think a great majority of the job of an economic development person is building relationships with people in the community and people in the business community, and being there as a good resource for them after you build the relationship,” he said before the transition from the Eastside to South King County. “Projects come and go, but to me that’s the most important.”

Trimble started at City Hall in July 2007, after a community economic vitality task force outlined strategies for city leaders to retain businesses and encourage other entrepreneurs to settle in Issaquah.

The post in Burien opened after Economic Development Manager Dick Loman retired last month. Trimble served in similar roles for cities in California and Maryland before the Issaquah appointment.

“I was the first one in, so I’m just proud to have launched it in the right direction and gotten things going here,” Trimble said.

Mayor Ava Frisinger described the position as “a growing role” for Trimble and city leaders.

“Because Dan served as the first person and helped define some of those things more clearly, I think we will have learned from the things that Dan did,” she said. “We would therefore have a greater definition of what we expected.”

Trimble offered input on the Central Issaquah Plan — a road map to redevelopment in the 915-acre business district along Interstate 90 — and advocated for exempting small businesses from transportation impact fees to encourage entrepreneurs to locate in Issaquah.

“We learned the importance of having a variety of input on economic development,” Frisinger said.

The council is interested in creating a city Economic Vitality Commission to oversee a marketing plan, consider opportunities to improve signage options for merchants, assess municipal permitting and inspection processes, and produce annual report cards on economic development activities.

Frisinger intends for the city administration to include a staffer dedicated to economic development. Councilman Fred Butler, in response to a question at a City Council candidate forum Oct. 13, said leaders needed to offer clearer directives about economic development.

“I am not sure, in my mind, that we got the full value of that hire, and one of the reasons is, I’m not sure if we provided clear expectations of what we expected from him,” Butler said.

Frisinger is awaiting a report from Seattle consultant Moss Adams about how municipal departments function. Information from the Moss Adams report, she said, could shape how the city redefines the economic development role.

“I think as we become more aware, as a city, of the competitive nature of attracting and retaining business, it is a very important role to maintain,” Frisinger said.

Issaquah Chamber of Commerce CEO Matthew Bott lauded Trimble as a skillful liaison between City Hall and local businesses. Officials should continue to staff a “critical position” for economic vitality, he added.

“It’s an extremely important investment in the economic health of our community,” Bott continued. “That position helps both to work to ensure that businesses have a good understanding of the regulatory framework that they operate within the city, have an advocate and an ombudsman — somebody that they can go to — and then also to support business retention and businesses recruitment efforts on behalf of the community.”

Warren Kagarise: 392-6434, ext. 234, or wkagarise@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

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