GROW Washington, a Sultan-based group of entrepreneurs, is currently helping to create, establish and build 73 new businesses in Snohomish County. The aptly named nonprofit “business incubator” continues to expand as it prepares to open a new store in downtown Everett.
Sultan Mayor Carolyn Eslick, GROW Washington’s founder and director, held a ribbon-cutting ceremony in Everett on Friday afternoon to open the new store, the third of its kind in Snohomish County.
GROW Washington stores contain products made by local entrepreneurs who also attend seminars on business success and good practices.
Attendees on hand for the celebration included Snohomish County Executive John Lovick, Snohomish County Sheriff Ty Trenary, Washington State Department of Commerce Senior Manager Maury Forman, Everett Mayor Ray Stephanson and Everett Executive Director of Economic Development Lanie McMullin.
The city of Everett is providing Eslick with retail space at 3013 Colby Ave., and will work in partnership with GROW in an effort to promote small business and increase commerce within the city of Everett.
“To have a turnout like this, for this event, I’m humbled,” said Eslick. “We have some really important people in this room today.”
Several GROW entrepreneurs attended in support of the nonprofit’s newest endeavor, as well as Sultan Police Chief and Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office East Precinct Lt. Monte Beaton, Everett Police Chief Kathy Atwood, several Snohomish County Sheriff’s officers and Sultan City Administrator Ken Walker, who has recently been appointed to GROW’s Board of Directors.
GROW Washington is Eslick’s vision of a “small business incubator” which provides guidance, instruction, retail space and other benefits to individuals who wish to start their own companies. The goal is to assist budding entrepreneurs, providing them with the necessary tools to grow successful and sustainable businesses.
There are GROW Washington stores operating in both Snohomish and Sultan.
Upon membership, business owners have access to marketing and networking opportunities, reduced-fee workshops on product development and business skills, free publicity, referral benefits and even funding opportunities. Entrepreneurs also have the ability to network with other GROW members, helping each other to promote and grow their businesses.
The peer-to-peer mentoring is one of the key benefits of GROW Washington membership, stated Eslick.
Additionally, membership gives entrepreneurs an affordable way to display and market their goods and services. Business owners manage their own space in the GROW storefronts, and are asked to commit to working in the store a minimum of two days per month. They also are asked to share GROW’s vision with new customers who come to shop there.
“They’re instructed to tell them that this is an incubator for products and for new businesses,” said Eslick. “Once people hear that, it’s incredible how the little light bulb comes on and they say ‘Wow, what a good idea!’”
Eslick attributed the success of GROW Washington to the entrepreneurs.
“It works,” said Eslick. “It works because all of them are here with their passion.”
City officials welcomed Eslick and GROW Washington to Everett.
“You’re going to fit right in here,” said Mayor Stephanson. “We are very happy to be able to provide this space for you.”
Stephanson discussed the importance of supporting startup businesses, and expressed his hopes of leaving the recession behind and stimulating new commerce in the city.
“We’re all in this together from the largest business in this region, the Boeing Company, to the very smallest. You are all very important,” said Mayor Stephanson. “So I want to thank you for your passion about this, Carolyn. It’s just terrific, and welcome to Everett.”
Executive Lovick also thanked Eslick for bringing her vision to Everett.
“It’s about having good jobs; attracting good businesses to this area,” said Lovick. “I know when my deputy executive came to me and told me you wanted us to partner with you, he just said, ‘this is what we want to do,’ and I didn’t hesitate at all.”
“This is great for all of us,” said Lovick. “Thank you for all that you’re doing.”
Economic Development Director McMullin shared that GROW Washington will be Everett’s third business incubator. McMullin expounded on the value of helping people start their own companies, stating that nationwide growth has strongly been favoring independent business owners.
“We believe, in the city of Everett, in the small businessperson. We believe in growing our own. It’s the very foundation, really, of how Everett has come about and gained livability as a city,” said McMullin. “We welcome you, and are here to do everything to support you, as you support us.”
Mayor Eslick and Mayor Stephanson cut the ribbon along with Executive Lovick.
“Thank you so much for allowing us to be here,” said Eslick. “We will do our very best in making this a success.”
The Everett store will be GROW’s third location in as many years, and there are 16 entrepreneurs preparing to start their businesses there. The Sultan location, which experienced a membership jump earlier this year after moving to a larger space, currently features 29 entrepreneurs, three of which are service-based. The original GROW store, located in Snohomish, has 28 entrepreneurs.
GROW vendors include artists, painters, chocolatiers, authors, ceramic artists, photographers, silversmiths and handmade jewelry makers. Products include body lotions, candles and scents, essential oils, freshly made desserts, greeting cards, Christmas decorations, woodcarvings, pet accessories, pottery, fishing gear, outdoor merchandise and much more.
The new Everett store will feature a mail station with shipping and receiving services. Gift wrapping services will also be available there.
For information on becoming a member or to find store locations, please visit: http://www.growwashington.biz/.