The Worst Best News

February 28, 2011

So, I was at an event on Thursday where it was announced that a new company was moving to our region that would be employing 400 new software developers and engineers. Great rejoicing occurred, especially since this was only hours after the big tanker contract announcement. And look, 400 new jobs is a lot of jobs, especially high demand jobs that will have multipliers throughout the economy.

But I might be the only person in the room who heard this news and got worried. How the heck are we going to find 400 software developers in this region?

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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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Hey, Kid: Here’s a Diploma. Why Don’t You Take Off Your Coat and Stay Awhile

December 27, 2010

Who should Washington’s public universities be trying to educate? If you ask most people, they’ll probably say that it’s our state’s residents. And that’s mostly the case. Overall, 89% of students in the six public universities in this state are residents (or at least find a way to qualify as residents for in-state tuition). And that makes a lot of sense, in terms of using our tax dollars to educate our kids.

But in terms of return on investment, that’s not actually the biggest bang for the buck. The best way to ensure that our state is getting a return on that investment is not to educate people that grow up here, but rather people who are going to stay here after the get their degree. Those are the people who are going to get jobs, pay taxes and be generally productive in our economy. Ideally, a lot of them are both kids who grow up here AND who stay here after college. But making sure that there’s a relationship between who goes to school here and who stays here isn’t as easy as you might think.

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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 REDEW: 2010 Western Washington Diversity and Inclusion Conference and Awards

October 8, 2010

Yes, that’s right. It’s time again for your weekly “Random Economic Development Email of the Week” or REDEW, where I share some of the strange things that come into my inbox and then riff on their relation to regional economic development.  I know you’ve been waiting excitedly since last week’s debut. This week’s winner: an invitation to the 2010 Western Washington Diversity and Inclusion Conference and Awards! 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 »

Hmmm…Maybe It’s Time to Act on that Talent Report

June 23, 2010

About a year ago, the International Benchmarking Consortium – our coalition of ten regions from around the world who share economic development best practices – held its annual conference on the theme of “Creativity and Talent.” The focus was on how to attract and retain all those highly talented people who can choose where they want to live and work. We even released a report with recommendations for how to create a regional talent recruitment and retention strategy, which I summarized for easy reading purposes. Of course, a year ago, retaining talent wasn’t a big concern…until now. Read the rest of this entry »

The Two Body Problem

June 14, 2010

I was at today’s City Club lunch listening to a panel on “Revolutionary Innovation.” One of the speakers was Dr. Yoky Matsuoka, an Associate Professor at the University of Washington who is literally pioneering the field of neurobotics (which is the combination of the two disciplines you think it is). She’s a true star in the scientific community, a MacArthur “Genius” Fellow and someone who moved here after a career at MIT and Harvard. So the moderator asked her what it was about Seattle that attracted her to come out here. Her answer? The region helped her solve the “two body problem.” Read the rest of this entry »

Economic Development: A Love Story

May 19, 2010

The Seattle Times this morning has a blog post on the revelation that the big news about Facebook’s new Seattle office was driven in part by love:

The story begins with Ari Steinberg, a Facebook engineering manager, and his wife, Daniela Witten, a Stanford grad student. When Witten began looking for a job teaching biostatistics, the couple decided to think about places where Facebook could someday open an office. Steinberg was going to follow Witten, thinking he could work remotely for a while. That was a possibility in Seattle, after Witten ended up landing a job this year as an assistant professor at the University of Washington. Then the company decided there was a bigger opportunity.

Absolutely a great story.  Except that it’s totally not unique. 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 »

Speaking of the Creative Economy…

November 24, 2009

A few weeks ago, Bill liveblogged from the second meeting of the International Regions Benchmarking Consortium that took place in Barcelona. Again, this is a group that was started two years ago by us and the TDA of Greater Seattle as a way to measure our economic performance against that of some of our peers around the world: specifically Barcelona, Stockholm, Helsinki, Munich, Dublin, Vancouver BC, Fukuoka (Japan), Daejon (S Korea), Cape Town and Glasgow.

As part of the conference – which had the theme of “Creativity and Talent in an Urban Environment” – we commissioned a report on talent attraction, the Creative Class approach being one of the most recent and highly touted. And let me just say, the report is awesome. Read the rest of this entry »