If you’ve never been on one of the Prosperity Partnership’s quarterly Industry Cluster Tours, you’re missing out. Imagine this: you and 46 peers from across the region, riding around on a cushy charter bus, being guided through some of region’s leading businesses as VIPs, getting a sweet meal, networking, and learning about the economic development opportunities and challenges facing one of the Puget Sound’s important industries. Sound like fun? Well, if you’re a wonky sort or are generally interested in promoting our region’s growth and development, it is.
Friday, September 24th, the Prosperity Partnership hosted its latest Industry Cluster Tour, this time with a focus on our emerging Energy Efficiency Industry. (For those not familiar with the program, past tours have covered industries including medical devices, defense, tourism, aviation/aerospace, trade and logistics, and so on)
We started our day with a look at the overall industry landscape—learning about the major industry segments and our region’s general strengths.
Then we were off to the Shilshole Bay Marina—a locally-designed green building project. Staff from Mithun and the Port of Seattle walked us around the property and talked us through the site’s green building features. Mithun staff also talked about the region’s strengths in the green building and design industry, and how our region’s well-known expertise in sustainability allows our architects and engineers to win jobs located across the country and the world. As an economic developer, I love that: export of green design services = great economic impact for our community! You can read more about Mithun’s green building insights here.
Our next stop: McKinstry. I’ve got to say, McKinstry really rolled out the red carpet for us, starting with personal welcome from David Allen and including leading us in small groups throughout their facilities (from machine shop to data monitoring station). Tour attendees were able to hear from and ask McKinstry employees about the company’s incredible growth, how the company does business, and what they believe the industry’s future holds. In addition, we visited with some of the first tenants of the new McKinstry Innovation Center.
We followed our tours up with a panel discussion with several exciting energy efficiency entrepreneurs. We heard from smart-glass technology company Vtiriosic, building energy management software / solution provider Front Runner Technologies, and home energy conservation / energy retrofit expert ecoFAB—gaining a good perspective on the range of energy efficiency start-ups operating in our region and the market opportunities they are pursuing.
Finally, we visited the Lighting Design Lab, where we learned about the broad range of available lighting technologies and their application in different environments (retail, residential, streetscape). Lighting technologies are playing an important role in our shift toward more energy efficient homes and work places, and Seattle’s light technicians and designers are experts in the field.
There we also heard from PSE, the City of Bainbridge Island, the City of Seattle, and the Seattle 2030 District about incredible initiatives underway to reduce the energy footprint of our building stock while providing jobs for our residents.
Sorry you missed the fun? Our next tour will take place December 3rd and will highlight the region’s specialty foods manufacturing industry. That’s right—gear up for a day that we hope will include a peek at some of region’s makers of coffee, chocolate and other gourmet treats, beer/wine, and more… What a way to spend a Friday at work!
(registration will open soon)