New Feature! PSRC Perspectives: Interpreting the 2010 Census Results

February 28, 2011

It’s been a few months since I’ve had this little video camera, and I’ve been promising y’all more video clips integrated into the Prosperity Blog rotation. Not just the clips from events happening at PSRC or people speaking in the community on Prosperity-related topics, but actual interviews with PSRC experts, board members and the sundry important/interesting people that walk through our halls.

Well, it’s never too late to start your new year’s resolution. And so here is the first installation of our new feature: PSRC Perspectives. Starting out? Insight into the latest census data release!

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Why Get the Milk For Free When You Can Buy the Cow?

February 18, 2011

Or maybe it’s “Why get the milk for free when you can buy the milk?” That’s sort of what this article made me think about.

The idea goes by one of two names: pay for success bonds or social impact bonds. Either way, nonprofit groups like foundations pay the initial money for a new program and also oversee it, with government approval. The government will reimburse them several years later, possibly with a bonus — but only if agreed-upon benchmarks show that the program is working. If it falls short, taxpayers owe nothing.

The New York Times goes on to describe all the pros – incentivizing performance measurement (and the concurrent ending of ineffective programs – and the cons (bad performance measurement and refusing services to the hardest to help in order to pad statistics), but I kept coming back to one fundamental question.  Isn’t this what the nonprofit sector already does for free?

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Weekly REDEW: Putting Art at IKEA

February 15, 2011

It’s that time again for the regular feature we like to call REDEW: the Random Economic Development Email of the Week. Which is exactly what it sounds like…me talking about random emails that I receive that have something to do with economic development. Now, usually these REDEWs center around emails that I receive from various listservs and mailing lists that I somehow get added to. But this week I’m pleased to present an actual email sent from a real person to me. How could that be random, you ask? Well, just wait to read it. And by it, I mean the “Weekly REDEW: Putting Art at IKEA.”

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Pictures of Horses Sure Generate a Lot of Revenue!

February 1, 2011

A couple weeks ago, the Jack Donaghy character on the show “30 Rock” responded to someone saying “What is Art?” with the phrase “We know what art is! It’s paintings of horses!” Which is funny to me – as a former theater major – for a number of reasons (not the least of which being a story involving Neil Hellegers and Cary Mazer and Alfred Hitchcock’s definition of theater, which none of you would find interesting). But I was surprised to see the same quote in a very entertaining profile of some huckster painter in Saudi Arabia in the NYT Magazine (“The galleries here are still rejecting me,” Gharem said. “They think art is still pictures of horses, you know.”).

What does all of this have to do with regional economic development? Well, we’ve actually got a lot of horse-painting art organizations in this region, and it turns out that they have quite the economic impact.

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It’s the Most Wonderful Time Of the Year (in Ideas): Big Ideas of 2010

December 15, 2010

I can’t wait for this Sunday. It’s literally my favorite day of the year. Why? Because the New York Times Magazine’s Year in Ideas issue is going to arrive at my doorstep! (I know, that’s a very nerdy reason for a day to be one’s favorite, but what can I say…I love ideas!) The NYT issue is apparently the 10th annual, but it also serves another important annual role: inspiring the creation of the Prosperity Blog’s 2nd annual “Big Ideas” post!

To quote from last year’s, we here at the Prosperity Blog have also had a good year of ideas, generating all sorts of practical proposals for improving our region’s business climate and competitiveness. But, of course, we have also had lots of impractical, sky’s-the-limit ideas that we hope someone is going to take and run with and make all our dreams come true. So, for all you good-idea-awaiting folks out there, here’s a summary…presented in Top Ten format:

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Weekly B-MOW: Surveys and More Surveys

October 8, 2010

Giving the people what they want, it’s time for the second installment of our second feature: Best Meeting of the Week. It’s the chronicles of our adventures in the world of economic development, sharing the most interesting, exciting or unique things that the Prosperity crew is doing. This week’s B-MOW? Two meetings on surveys! Read the rest of this entry »


Party Our Way to Regional Prosperity?

July 15, 2010

Lots of news recently about the potential for the City of Seattle to allow bars to serve alcohol past 2 am. I have no particular expertise on the effects of this decision, other than the fact that I enjoy drinking late at night, but the thing that caught my eye about the story was the framing of it in the consultant report. I’ve always understood this to be a public safety issue, trying to stagger the times that people are leaving bars so that the police don’t have to deal with a huge rush all at once.  But apparently, it’s also a global talent attraction and retention issue: Read the rest of this entry »