By Vicky Baxter (Guest columnist)
It has been my privilege to be the CEO of the Renton Chamber of Commerce for the last 3 years. In visiting the city in October 2014, I realized Renton was ripe for continued growth. All the gears were grinding with strong city government embracing business and actively seeking economic development. Outstanding public and private schools, shopping/dining options to attract Baby Boomers to Generation Z, class “A” healthcare choices receiving national acclaim and a building job market that surpassed anything I had seen in my career.
One component championed by Mayor Denis Law and the City Council was to build an active/vibrant “downtown.” The city has embarked on a Civic Core Vision and Action Plan — http://rentonwa.gov/civiccore/ — I encourage you to read this as many citizens contributed to the plan. This action plan coupled with the Downtown Partnership composed of folks like The Piazza Group; business owners like Nick (Antiques for You), Gene (The Red House), and people who really are engaged in all things downtown, have made Renton a “rising star” in the Puget Sound. This doesn’t happen serendipitously but through city led leadership and asking for public input, we are seeing the fruits of years of vision, hopes and dreams occur.
Sadly many of us were unhappy to see Sam’s Club close and especially the sudden announcement to the employees. The Renton Chamber working with Sam’s Club organized a job fair for the displaced employees and more than 50 companies responded. Many were hired and will be on a career path allowing them expanded opportunities. Cliff Long, director of the Economic Development department for the city, told me his “phone is ringing off the hook” for the building. What looked like a dismal business closing may actually be a blessing. By the way, if you have 2,500 feet in the downtown or close, I have the coolest business ever looking for space.
The “really good news” is the economic forecast for Renton is thrilling. Presented in October 2017 Matthew Gardner, chief economist for Windermere Real Estate said the following:
1. Interest in Renton specifically from tech companies, continues to gain strength as they get priced out of Seattle.
2. Commercial activity will drive higher demand for ownership & apartment housing. Resale listings won’t meet demand. Good time to buy is the first of the year as interest rates will climb end of 2018.
3. There can be no denying it………Renton really is ahead of the curve!
What I have learned about Renton:
People who have lived in Renton a long time, fondly called Renton Royalty, love Renton. They are the folks who support:
• Renton Technical College’s Student Success Breakfast: 7:30-9 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 14 (https://www.rtc.edu/breakfast)
• Renton Community Foundation 2018 The Love of Community: 6-9 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 15 (https://celebratercf.bpt.me)
• Renton Rotary Club’s Puttin’ on the Ritz: 5:30-10 p.m. Saturday, March 3 (http://www.rentonrotary.org/)
If you want to know more about Renton and this hip, happening place you live; come to the Renton Chamber of Commerce Eyes on Renton from 7:30-9 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 7 (http://bit.ly/2DCw5uq)
If you want more information about events, relocating to Renton, need maps of Renton or just to say “hello” please stop by the Renton Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center, 625 S. Fourth St. Marcie and Keirre will gladly welcome you! Last year we had more than 25,000 attend the Visitor Center and events produced by the RCC/RVC.
Reach Vicky Baxter at firstname.lastname@example.org.