Kirkland (WA) Economic Partnership – Economic Development Strategic Plan
ChallengeKirkland’s location at the center of the King County and the Puget Sound region is a significant asset. With an estimated 3.4 million people in the metropolitan area, Kirkland is able to draw on the mystique of Seattle, Bellevue and Redmond, both from a business standpoint and from a marketing perspective. Kirkland has the ability to integrate a variety of employment opportunities with a livable and vibrant community. Despite these advantages, there are threats facing Kirkland. The most obvious of these is the dependence on the overall economic health of the Puget Sound area. The region’s reliance on Boeing and on the technology sector make it vulnerable to economic downturns. Furthermore, the increasing desirability of Kirkland as a residential location threatens to drive up land costs making the community too expensive for business expansion. TIP Strategies was engaged by the city’s economic development organization, the Kirkland Economic Partnership, to assess the economic alternatives available to the community and make recommendations for action.
ApproachTIP prepared an analysis of Kirkland’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT analysis), based on interviews with local experts, a review of the quantitative data regarding Kirkland and the Puget Sound Region, an examination of City of Kirkland policy and land use documents, and our experience in evaluating a community’s economic potential.
Three themes emerged from our Discovery work:
1. Kirkland is a highly desirable place to live and work.
2. Change in Kirkland is slow and often difficult.
3. Residential quality of life is the cornerstone for Kirkland decision-making.
OutcomeOpportunities for Kirkland greatly outweigh those of similar suburban communities. Through sound planning, the city has preserved options for itself that have become closed to others. Kirkland provides a broad range of amenities and does not rely exclusively on Seattle for cultural attractions and entertainment venues. As a result, the city has the potential to operate less as suburb and more like a truly autonomous community. The resulting document, Pathway to Kirkland’s Economic Future, provides city leaders with a framework for bringing this vision to reality. The commitment of the city government, the local business community, and local neighborhood associations will be essential to securing a strong economic future for Kirkland.
Kirkland Downtown Marina Park, Photo credit Cynthia Lou
Photo credit Ian Muttoo