Wenatchee is the urban center in a region that has traditionally been dependent on agriculture as the mainstay of the economy. While agriculture does maintain a major share of the economic activity in the region, over the last decade great strides have been made to diversify the economy. The area’s largest employers reflect the region’s agricultural heritage, but also other strengths including manufacturing, health care, technology and tourism. Recent announcements and projects reflect the success of this diversification: ALCOA has announced the restart of a potline and the addition of over 80 employees to their plant in 2011 and they have secured power contracts with the Chelan County PUD that will ensure their sustainability for years to come. Central Washington Hospital has completed a $109 million expansion. Wenatchee Valley Medical Center has also grown to include an emergency center and hospital serving the region. To strengthen the local healthcare industry, the Hospital and Medical Center are now working on joint operating agreements. The valley now boasts multi-million dollar datacenters for Yahoo and the Sabey Corporation and numerous high technology businesses and entrepreneurs are flourishing thanks to the Chelan PUD’s commitment to a fiber backbone for the region that boasts connectivity equal to the I-5 corridor. Wenatchee’s real estate values have maintained steady growth, even in light of the economic downturn. In the final years of the economic boom, Wenatchee was rated #1 and #2 in surveys of real estate value escalation in the nation. Wenatchee’s livability is boosted by the numerous features that attract tourists and treat locals on a year-around basis from the newly improved Mission Ridge ski area, the Town Toyota Center, the Foothills Trails System and the growing Apple Capital Recreational Loop Trail along the Columbia River in Wenatchee. The region, which includes Chelan and Leavenworth, sees over 3 million visitors annually.
This page will provide a quick overview of Wenatchee’s market area and related resources, while providing an understanding of the City’s planning efforts toward defining economic development goals, objectives and needs. For an overview of development areas and incentives click here.
In understanding Wenatchee’s market and assets for the purposes of locating or expanding a business, there are several important factors to consider:
Wenatchee is the urban center for North Central Washington and the major urban attraction to this section of the Highway 97 Corridor. Based on the economic assessment done for the Wenatchee Waterfront Sub-Area Plan in 2003, it is notable that the urban area draws 36% of our four counties’ (Chelan, Douglas, Grant and Kittitas) retail sales – a population trade area of 211,900 which is expected to grow to 268,275 by 2025.
Wenatchee’s business and community assets serve the region, and they are representative of the area’s industry clusters:
Health Care: Central Washington Hospital, Wenatchee Valley Medical Center, Columbia Valley Community Health
- Education: Wenatchee Valley College, Central Washington University (on WVC Campus), Confluence Technology Center, North Central Technical Skills Center
- Agriculture: Wenatchee’s history as the Apple Capital of the World has defined the region’s agricultural infrastructure – which is state-of-the-art for fruit production, storage and packing, fruit shippers and marketers, and value-added processes. The newly flourishing wine industry is represented by Wenatchee Wine Country. Wenatchee is quickly becoming a food/wine destination.
- Arts: The Stanley Civic Center, which includes the Performing Arts Center of Wenatchee and the Wenatchee Convention Center, The Greater Wenatchee Regional Events Center/Town Toyota Center, Riverside Playhouse, Sun Basin Theaters, Art on the Avenues, and Wenatchee Symphony
- Technology: Confluence Technology Center is home to a Yahoo! data center as well as numerous small-to-medium technology firms that flourish in our area where our fiber infrastructure is renowned.
- Recreation: From the Apple Capital Recreational Loop Trail to the Wenatchee Foothills Trails, and Mission Ridge – one can understand why Wenatchee was rated as one of National Geographic magazine’s Top 50 Adventure Towns
For more information about the City of Wenatchee click here or follow these links to the Port of Chelan County and the Wenatchee Valley Chamber of Commerce. In addition, we invite you to visit www.choosewashington.com. This site is supported by the State of Washington and can provide valuable information on consumer buying habits, and effective buying income within very small radius of available real estate listings in the area.
In addition, a wealth of information data about the community exists on the Chelan-Douglas Trends Network website which you can find by clicking here.
Wenatchee has been the recognized leader in focused planning, and these efforts have resulted in significant new development in the community. The 2000 Center for the New West study set the stage and the DEVELOPMENT AREAS AND INCENTIVES section details incentives and projects that have resulted from this planning work.
The Center for the New West study advised that Wenatchee’s economic strength would come from building on existing assets, including the regional draw and quality-of-life features, while supporting the growth of smaller enterprises, such as Wenatchee’s burgeoning creative class, by strengthening local infrastructure. Wenatchee’s economic development goals include the following:
- REGIONAL CENTER - Promote the continued development of Wenatchee as the regional center of North Central Washington
- DOWNTOWN - Protect and strengthen the vitality of Downtown
- ENTREPRENEURIAL SUPPORT - Foster the development of an environment that supports small business and the creative class
- QUALITY OF LIFE - Support the enhancement of Wenatchee’s built and natural environment as an attraction for community and business growth
- FACILITIES AND INFRASTRUCTURE - Work with regional partners to ensure that regional infrastructure needs are addressed
During Wenatchee’s Comprehensive Plan update the City conducted an in-depth analysis of the current economy, land uses, housing, business and population needs for the future. This analysis helped shape the City’s economic development goals and set the stage for a productive future.
For more information on the City of Wenatchee’s economic development efforts, please contact:
Economic and Community Development Director