Vandenbrande helps improve the quality of life in Redmond
January 9, 2012 · Updated 1:10 PM
As an economic development manager for the City of Redmond, Erika Vandenbrande's job encompasses a couple different things, but they are all in the name of helping the city grow.
Vandenbrande and her team focus on connecting residents, visitors and businesses. To facilitate this, they partner with other groups such as regional transportation agencies and the Greater Redmond Chamber of Commerce in an effort to provide a supportive environment for jobs and businesses as well as a diversity of goods and services for the community.
On Friday, Vandenbrande spoke about her job at the Redmond Senior Center's (RSC) monthly First Friday Coffee Chats, which began in the fall of 2009 to give the public an opportunity to get to know city officials and employees such as the mayor, chief of police and poet laureate.
Vandenbrande, who has been with the City of Redmond for 11 years, told her audience that one of the biggest aspects of her job involves transportation and how to manage it as the city continues to grow."Redmond has grown substantially in the last few decades," she said.
One of the ways Vandenbrande's team has worked to improve traffic conditions in the city is the Redmond Trip Resource and Incentive Program (R-TRIP). The program rewards Redmond residents and employees for choosing alternative transpiration options, such as bicycling, carpooling, vanpooling, walking or taking the bus. Vandenbrande said the gift cards for Redmond workers and prize drawings for residents are a way to encourage people to learn about the different alternatives to driving alone and to utilize these options. To learn more about R-TRIP, visit www.GOrtrip.com.
While R-TRIP is a great accomplishment for the city, Vandenbrande said it still comes with challenges — one of the biggest of which is getting people to consider alternative modes of transportation.
"You don't have to be in a car," she said.
Vandenbrande also told her First Friday audience that she and her team work with both King County Metro Transit and Sound Transit to provide the type of bus service people in Redmond and the greater Eastside need.
One of these services is Metro's RapidRide B Line, which provides fast and frequent service between the downtown Redmond Transit Center and the Bellevue Transit Center and features free Wi-Fi, real-time electronic bus arrival signs and other amenities.
"It's not quite as good as a chauffeur, but we're getting there," Vandenbrande said with a laugh.
In addition to transportation, Vandenbrande's job also involves working with the business sector. One program that has come out of this is Think Redmond.
Vandenbrande said the City of Redmond has partnered with the chamber, R-TRIP and local businesses to encourage people to go local and be local and support businesses in town.
Think Redmond encourages this by providing a directory of businesses involved in the program, which offer discounts to Think Redmond cardholders. To learn more about the program and how to obtain a discount card, visit www.thinkredmond.com.
By providing discounts, Vandenbrande said people are encouraged and more likely to patronize Redmond shops, restaurants and other businesses, which in turn boosts the local economy.
Vandenbrande is originally from Washington D.C. and went to college in Rochester, N.Y. Her background is in the environment, business and transportation, three areas that play heavily in economic development.
Vandenbrande lived in Los Angeles for a while before moving to the Pacific Northwest — settling in Sammamish, which had been unincorporated at the time with a Redmond zip code. And since then, she has worked to improve the quality of life in Redmond.
"I'm passionate about the community," she said.