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Where will we grow from here?

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There are not large expanses of land in Wenatchee to accommodate growth. The city is locked fairly tightly by its geographic boundaries, so growth must come from within, for the most part.

Existing properties, most already developed in some form, must be reinvented for a new vision.

The story is different for East Wenatchee, where growth opportunities abound, and the same is true for most of the rest of Douglas and Chelan counties.

But growth has hardly been at the forefront since the region, like most of the country, suffered the body blows of the Great Recession that still reverberate today.

Prior to 2008, it was all about growth. New construction, both commercial and residential, was humming throughout our valleys. Even in Wenatchee, in-fill was the thing, with developers eying every available strip of land and seeing possibilities.

We are finally beginning to see a gradual return to those days. Land that sat idle for years has attracted new interest. A huge condominium complex is taking shape in Wenatchee near the river on Ninth Street. Development plans are in the works on property near Pybus Market.

Pybus Market itself is an example of growth and renewed faith in the local economy. Its existence has inspired others.

Opportunity is out there again and people are beginning to take advantage.

In this issue of Business World we look at some of the growth areas in our region. From the airport in East Wenatchee to a former mill site in Cashmere, people are seeing possibilities and acting.

I’ve written many times before about how the return to robust days of the local real estate market is the true test of economic recovery.

Once the faith in that sector has been restored and existing inventory begins dwindling, new construction begins taking shape.

We are seeing that now. The real estate numbers have been improving each year, with last year showing strong sales at higher median prices. New construction is far from where it was but the signs are there that we can expect to see things happening soon.

Though rapid growth brings its own set of problems, like housing affordability, it is that end of the spectrum where we benefit most as a community.

Higher property values increase tax collections, which can be used to build and improve infrastructure and ensure a better quality of life within our valleys.

On another note, I hope you have had a chance to see the interviews with the 2013 30 Under 35 honorees we have been publishing each Sunday in The Wenatchee World.

They have been quite interesting, with a wide variety of interests and perspectives represented. They give us a chance to hear some fresh thinking from our leaders of today and tomorrow.

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