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Rep. Larsen tours local Marysville businesses
TULALIP — U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen visited a few businesses in Quil Ceda Village to take the temperature of the local economic climate.
The employees of the Mountain Crest Credit Union spoke highly of the opportunities offered by their location, and reported that their members had started to borrow again, which they saw as a good sign. Mark Morrison compared the current period positively to the relative uncertainty he saw in the economy last year.
“What needs to be done to help it turn the corner?” Larsen asked.
“Well, employment clearly needs to go up,” Morrison said.
Just around the corner, Reset Games was described by co-owner Dennis Hill as a relatively recession-proof business, thanks to the nature of video games.
“It’s more suited to people hunkering down at home anyway,” Hill said. “I did expect more business, but the Chamber and the Tribes have been great to work with.”
Hill noted that it’s harder for smaller businesses to obtain bank loans, and Larsen spoke of creating incentives for banks to lend to smaller businesses, among them lower interest rates.
Jana Franklin, owner of the Hoity Toity fashion shop just a few doors down, felt harder-hit during the Boeing strike.
“We’re thriving right now,” Franklin told Larsen. “I think it does vary from business to business. We carry high-end products, update our Facebook page every day and make personal connections with our customers.”
Although Franklin reported strong local business, she hasn’t seen any tourists in her store in spite of being located just off the freeway. All her current customers are either local or else followed her from her previous location.
Greater Marysville Tulalip Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Caldie Rogers echoed the assessments of Tulalip Tribes Board member Glen Gobin and Treasurer Chuck James, regarding the severe slowdown in the construction industry, and expressed her concerns about companies that might choose to pay a penalty rather than provide health care coverage for their employees. In spite of the Chamber suffering significant membership and salary reductions recently, she believes that the economy has hit bottom.
Rogers credited the “Buy Local” editorial campaign with slowing Marysville’s decline in retail sales, when compared to the Snohomish County average, and pointed out that the Chamber’s membership retention and recruitment in February and March had exceeded its goals for the first time in two years.
Larsen cited a number of smaller manufacturers he’s visited who have made new hires, but admitted that he doesn’t expect the economy to recover quickly. State Rep. John McCoy acknowledged the difficulty of supporting smaller businesses on limited state budgets, while Stan Gobin, who manages Quil Ceda Village in McCoy’s stead during legislative sessions, emphasized that Quil Ceda Village has reduced rents and deferred payments to retain tenants.
“Part of a payment is better than none,” Stan Gobin said. “Some of them are barely hanging in there.”
“Some of those relationships have become personal,” Glen Gobin said. “At the same time, in some cases, we’ve gone as far as we can go.”
“We still need strong Wall Street reform, but I came out here because we can’t forget Main Street either,” Larsen said.