Chris Knapp aims to build awareness of the “advanced manufacturing corridor that runs from Arlington down to Bothell and to point out what a significant engine that corridor is both for the state and the nation.”
“I think that Snohomish County has been under appreciated in terms of its economic horsepower,” Knapp said. “I want to tell that story a little bit more.”
Knapp will be a positive force for businesses and the entire community in this new role, said Troy McClelland, CEO and president of Economic Alliance Snohomish County.
“He’s among a handful of visionaries who really drove the idea that the Alliance needed to exist,” McClelland said.
Knapp replaces Everett Clinic CEO Rick Cooper, who has been the only chair of the nonprofit and who remains on the board in the named role of past chair.
Knapp, 48, advises The Everett Clinic on all the legal issues related to its business operations. He previously worked as a managing partner at the Anderson Hunter Law Firm in Everett. He grew up in Minnesota before getting his undergraduate degree at the University of Washington.
While at Anderson Hunter, Chris Knapp played a leading role in the formation of the nonprofit two years ago with the mergers of the Economic Development Council of Snohomish County, the Greater Everett Chamber of Commerce and the South Snohomish County Chamber of Commerce.
“I think the thing that he really helped us with and was instrumental in was the legal side of merging these three organizations,” said John Monroe, a retired Boeing executive and past board member who now works as chief operations officer for Economic Alliance Snohomish County.
Monroe praised Knapp as a strong leader and strategic thinker: “I couldn’t be happier with him as the choice for the new board chair.”
The Economic Alliance Snohomish County aims to create economic vitality by advocating for job creation, education opportunity and infrastructure.
The board is made up of 50 county business and government leaders that represent a diversity of backgrounds as well as representing all parts of the county.
Economic Alliance Snohomish County has more than achieved the goals set out for the organization, Knapp said. In the past two years, Economic Alliance has earned a reputation for credibility advocating for economic development with people in the community, the state and Washington, D.C., Knapp said.
“We’ve heard that from others, we’ve heard in Olympia that Snohomish County had a fragmented voice,” Knapp said. “The Economic Alliance has gone a long way to creating a more unified voice for economic vitality and we’re proud of that.”
The next phase will be about growing the organization, Knapp said. To do that, the nonprofit needs a bigger budget. Right now, members support Economic Alliance to the tune of about $1.1 million a year. About 70 percent of that comes from businesses and 30 percent from public agencies, Knapp said.
Knapp would like to see private sector support increase while maintaining the contributions from the public sector. He hopes to increase the Economic Alliance’s overall budget to about $1.5 million, which would put it on the level with Greater Spokane Inc., what Knapp said is one of the better economic development organizations in the state.
While it’s never easy to ask for more money, Knapp said that key people understand the need to invest in the infrastructure of economic development.
“The first thing we have to do is convince people of the value that Economic Alliance provides,” Knapp said.