Monroe city staff is proposing a new approach to build up the tourism industry and economy.

City administrator Deborah Knight presented the plan to form an advisory board to the Monroe City Council at the Sept. 12 meeting. It is part of a larger economic development strategy she and Mayor Geoffrey Thomas have been fine-tuning for the past month.

“I think it is important if we are going to be successful with economic development it has to include the entire community,” she said. “Economic development cannot just be the city or the chamber or real estate brokers. If we want to be successful, we need to come together as a team.”

In both Monroe’s Downtown Master Plan and Economic Development Plan, which is a standalone plan adopted into Monroe’s 2015-2035 Comprehensive Plan, “one of the issues raised is that there really wasn’t an implementation strategy,” Knight said. The idea for an advisory group arose during meetings with the city’s department heads.

Knight said when looking forward to the next few years, staff discussed whether they should be the ones to prioritize the projects listed under both plans, or open the process up to the broader community. She said it was decided that gauging input from other sectors, such as business owners, would be the better route.

Thomas hopes to have selected members in meetings by the end of the year, Knight said. Their list of priorities will need to be finalized by around the end of spring 2018, so the 2019 budget can include funding for some of those projects, she said.

Monroe’s 2015-2035 Comprehensive Plan identifies six overarching areas of focus for economic development. Thriving Main Street and U.S. Highway 2 retail corridors, walkability, promoting recreation, supporting new and existing businesses, and continued growth are critical, according to council documents. Projects are listed under each section that could move Monroe toward those goals.

Earlier this year the council allotted $25,000 to the Downtown Monroe Association to fund a part-time executive director position. Joie Worthen was hired on, and she is working to bulk up the organization’s application for the designated Washington Main Street Program Community program, which will allow access to more resources for revitalizing the historic corridor.

The city is also already a part of the Sky to Sound Water Trail Coalition. The regional group is locating stops along the Skykomish River for the Sky to Sound Water Trail. The route will stretch from the north and south forks of the Skykomish River, to merge with the Snoqualmie River and make its way out to the Puget Sound.

The plan Knight presented also outlines initiatives for the next year under each of the six economic development categories. She included continuing to fund Worthen’s position, and other suggestions for the 2018 budget, which will be presented to the council on Tuesday evening.

Around a dozen members will be picked for the advisory team, Knight said. The hope is that those who agree to join will meet once a month for the next nine months or so, she said.

The Monroe Planning Commission and parks board will process the advisory board’s recommendations, and the council will vet the results in the 2019 budget, according to council documents.

Knight said the council’s reception seemed positive. They did have questions about the logistics of forming the advisory board. She will also be presenting the plan to other members of the community in the coming weeks.