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:

Read the rest of this entry »

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Getting Around “Lending of Credit”

November 12, 2010

Every economic development blog in the state of Washington has, at some point, railed against the “lending of credit” provision in the state’s constitution. Which is actually a pretty good pun, considering the lending of credit provision was put in as a backlash against “greedy” railroad barons. Zinger! Anyway, you know what I’m talking about: the prohibition against direct investment of public funds into private enterprises. Which is a big deal around the country in economic development, where cities and states will throw money at a company to get it to move there. Sometimes that works out, sometimes it’s money that they don’t quite have.

A lot of folks in the state talk about making a run at a constitutional amendment, but I’ve never seen anyone actually make a go of it. Not that there’s a lot of money in the state government to lend to private companies anyway. But there are actually some interesting approaches that get around that prohibition going on these days. Read the rest of this entry »


I’m Not Saying You Should Leave Our Region to See Great Art, But…

December 10, 2009

A lot of you have probably seen the news/buzz about the new Whatcom Museum at the Lightcatcher, a new $18.3 million museum of contemporary and abstract art in Bellingham. Maybe you’ve seen the (actually pretty compelling) late night television advertisements. I’d love to go. But what really catches my eye about the Lightcatcher is this phrase from the Seattle Times article:

But city leaders have high expectations that Lightcatcher, funded mostly through sales tax, will help draw more tourists from Vancouver, B.C., Seattle and around the region. [emphasis added]

You know me and my love of publicly funded cultural access, so I had to learn more.  Luckily, the good folks at the Western Washington University student newspaper had the answer: Read the rest of this entry »


Celebrating Taxes and Economic Development

October 15, 2009

OK, I’m going to continue my modest proposal/rant from yesterday about getting everyone on board if we want to truly achieve our vision for a prosperous metropolitan region. I was at the Leadership Tomorrow Economy Day today, where the 80 young leaders spend a day learning about our region’s economy, and it was fascinating to listen in on the conversation. Read the rest of this entry »


Who Cares? I’ve Got Expedia.

September 24, 2009

So, apparently, Seattle has high “tourism taxes.”

Only Chicago imposes more taxes on travelers than Seattle, according to a national study of car rental, hotel and meal taxes in the 50 largest U.S. cities. Seattle, with nearly $38 in total taxes on travelers, trails only Chicago, at nearly $41 per day. The U.S. average was $29.71

Or do we?  Read the rest of this entry »


The Arts Don’t Matter During a Recession

June 17, 2009

Or do they?

That’s been a relatively visible debate at the local, state and federal level over the past year, as government struggles to reduce costs and keep taxes down despite falling revenues. It can be hard for elected officials to support even a measly few million dollars here or there for arts when education, health care and everything else is getting slashed and gutted. And we know this is happening with individuals as well, as they shift their giving to different priorities. Read the rest of this entry »


True, but…

January 8, 2009

Perhaps you’ve heard – Washington is the best state in America to start a business.  US News and World Report just the other day ranked us #1, ahead of Virginia, Colorado, Texas and Nevada (and all the other states of course).

The article rightly pointed out our productivity here, our adoption of alternative energy, and our tech-intensity.  Interestingly, it also said we are #1 among the states in adoption of energy efficiency, which runs counter to the conventional wisdom that our low energy prices make us naturally less likely to engage in energy efficiency projects than higher-cost states.

But… Read the rest of this entry »