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Civic planner: Voted 'Best city employee', Gina Estep talks about growing, improving North Bend
Named Best City Employee for a second year in a row, North Bend’s Gina Estep has always had a desire to plan communities and develop economies for cities.
Estep, who is Planning and Economic Development Director for the city of North Bend, went to college and got a degree in urban and regional planning. She worked for the city of Snoqualmie from 1998 to 2006. Prior to that, she worked for the cities of LaConner and Lake Stevens.
Estep spent eight years in the Snoqualmie planning office. It was a wonderful experience, she says, but she was ready for some additional responsibilities. The North Bend job offered the economic development angle, which Estep finds very engaging.
“I love working with businesses, creating reasons for activities and tourism to draw in people,” she says.
When it comes to economic development, local business owners appreciate activities like the North Bend Block Party, UW Cycling Races or Adventure Sport Festival.
“We’re trying to bring people to downtown and give them a great experience,” Estep said, “which will bring them back to frequent the restaurants and shops. Also, to give reasons for potential businesses looking to locate in North Bend.”
This approach builds community: “It gets people out and meeting each other.”
“I try to treat people like I would want to be treated,” Estep says. “Give them the time that each person deserves with their issue or question. Everybody’s got something to add. If we take a little bit of everybody’s ideas, we’ve got a pretty awesome city.”
Ahead for North Bend, Estep is looking forward to nearly $1.5 million in grants and matching dollars going into revitalization of the streetscapes and sidewalks.
With the new Bartell’s drug store, a proposed hotel, and new neighborhoods—eight different subdivisions are being processed—“in the next five years, you’re going to see a lot of revitalization in North Bend. We’re looking at developing a civic center, including a performing arts theater. There is so much in the pipeline, that, once it’s realized, North Bend is really going to be revitalized. That will be something that the city can be proud of.”
“Thanks to all who voted,” Estep said of the honor of Best City Employee. “That is a total compliment.”