Seattle Invests in Startups, Naming Rebecca Lovell as Startup Liaison




The city of Seattle’s new startup liaison is a face you’ll likely recognize. The Office of Economic Development announced Thursday that Rebecca Lovell has taken on the newly created role overseeing the Startup Seattle program. “My big initiative this year will be the talent pipeline,” Lovell said. “When I meet with startups, finding talent seems to be one of the biggest throttles to their own growth.” Another important initiative for Startup Seattle, Lovell said, is to reach out to communities that are underrepresented in the startup sector, such as women, people of color and diverse socioeconomic backgrounds.

Rebecca Lovell, Startup Liaison,
City of Seattle’s Office of Economic Development

“I love Seattle and the startup community, and couldn’t be more excited to be an advocate for our city. We have so many key ingredients for success, and I look forward to working with community organizations, schools and universities, and future and current startuppers to ensure Seattle is on the international map of innovation where it belongs,” said Lovell. “I’m excited to carry on the great work began by Red Russak, supported by the community.”

“As one of dozens of community volunteers working alongside the city, I’m incredibly excited we’re launching this initiative to ensure competitiveness, benchmark our progress against that of other leading cities, and expand opportunities in technology entrepreneurship,” said Chris DeVore, Startup Seattle advisory committee member and chair of the city’s Economic Development Commission. “Rebecca brings passion, industry experience, and an incredible network to this position, and I very much look forward to working with her in this new role.”

Read the full news release here.

Read more of the coverage here on GeekWire.

Seattle: A City of Merchants

The following article was written by Michael Luis in part of an on-going series and based off of his book “Century 21 City: Seattle’s Fifty Year Journey from World’s Fair to World Stage”

The Puget Sound region is home to the headquarters of a very impressive list of retailing companies that span a wide range of products and platforms. These companies all started here, many with modest ambitions, and have grown into national and international industry-leading success stories. From Starbucks to Amazon, REI to Zumiez, Costco to Nordstrom, Sur La Table to Ben Bridge, Puget Sound-based retailers can be found in downtowns, malls and shopping centers everywhere.

It is not difficult to develop theories of why retailers from the region should be successful. As noted in Century 21 City and many of these posts, Seattle quickly moved past its origins as a mill town and became the commercial center first for the Puget Sound region and gradually for the state and the Northwest. Seattle businesses supplied the goods needed in all those other lumber camps and mill towns around the Sound, and later provided the “ton of supplies” that each miner needed in the Klondike. Seattle grew, at first, as a city of merchants.

Another angle to consider is the emphasis of businesses in the region on the upper end of the quality and price range. As noted in the previous post, concentrating on the top end of the market was a way for Northwest manufacturers to minimize the impact of high shipping costs, and perhaps that emphasis on quality rubbed off on local consumers and, hence, on retailers.

An insistence on quality in both products and service is the one commonality that runs through any list of national retailers based in the region. This is a place that requires fancy coffee, craft beer, exotic kitchen appliances and no-questions-asked return policies. The kind of upper-middle-brow, slightly snobbish consuming that has taken place in the Northwest for years has become the norm around the country. Seattle-area retailers, it seems, have had the right product and service mix at the right time to capture an increasingly sophisticated national consumer base.

The prominence of retailers in outdoor equipment is easier to explain, given the demanding conditions of the Northwest environment, the early emphasis on “extreme” sports and the general perception that the people who use the products the most actually live here. Eddie Bauer perfected goose down sleeping bags and REI started out as a cooperative venture to import European mountaineering gear, and has stuck to the technically advanced end of that market.

Now, does this speculation really explain anything? Maybe, but the question of retailing based in the Puget Sound region still has the makings of a solid B-school PhD thesis. The important thing, though, is to recognize that the region has a substantial industry cluster that it can build on.

Although we tend to think of retailing as a localized, secondary activity (i.e., one that feeds off the payroll of primary activities like manufacturing) national retailers in the region represent an important segment of the economic base itself. The people working at the headquarters of Amazon, Starbucks, Nordstrom, or Costco are, in a real sense, exporting a service as they support the activities of their company’s branches around the country and the world.

It would appear that the region has a distinct competitive advantage in the retailing industry, and given the large employment base in headquarters and support activities, it may have reached a critical mass that can be exploited for further growth. Just as software companies set up shop in the region to poach Microsoft employees, retailers may decide to locate in the area to take advantage of the large and growing pool of talent in brick-and-mortar and on-line retailing.

Retailing is an attractive industry for the region because it offers excellent career opportunities in a wide range of creative fields including design, marketing, advertising and packaging: not everyone wants to write code for a living. As the sector grows, these kinds of functions can gradually be lured to the region from their traditional strongholds of New York, Chicago and Los Angeles.

The emergence of a large cluster of very successful national retailers provides yet another example of the unplanned, serendipitous nature of economic development. Lack of a unified theory to explain its existence should not stop the region from capitalizing on this very promising sector.



‘State of Downtown’ Highlights the Economic Health of Downtown Seattle

Nearly 1,000 of Seattle’s business and community leaders gathered this week at the Westin Hotel in Downtown Seattle for the 2013 State of Downtown Economic Forum, the Downtown Seattle Association’s (DSA) annual event reporting on the condition of the Downtown economy.

Themed “The New Urban,” this year’s forum examined the strengths and weaknesses of 2012 while addressing Downtown’s competitive advantage of urban amenities, the emerging trend of businesses and institutions locating in urban settings, smart approaches to density and the importance of communications technologies in Downtown’s future.

In her State of the Downtown address, Downtown Seattle Association President & CEO Kate Joncas highlighted Downtown’s successes in 2012 – including the residential development boom, the largest employment increase in the region, major brands choosing to locate Downtown and a thriving arts and entertainment sector – as well as the elements which need attention to help maintain Downtown Seattle’s competitive advantage in the years to come.

“Downtown Seattle’s residential development is off the charts right now. We have more units under construction than any other metro area outside of Houston, Texas and our employment numbers are stronger than they’ve been in years,” stated Joncas. “We’re moving in the right direction, but we must continue to develop an environment which attracts and nurtures this growth. We need to ensure that Downtown is family friendly, which includes developing a Downtown public school and rezoning South Lake Union to support the kind of density that will attract families.”

“We have an obligation to ensure that we’re taking a smart approach to our advantages over suburban areas – steps like improving the pedestrian experience, preserving transit and making Downtown Seattle the region’s preferred destination to live, work, shop and play. These are top priorities.”

The forum’s featured speaker, AT&T Senior Vice President Jeff Bradley highlighted the important roles that emerging technologies are playing in urban centers and this sector’s impressive growth in Washington state.

“The economic impact of app development in Washington is $2.6 billion each year and the app workforce is growing at such a rapid rate, with Washington having four times the national average of app economy jobs, according to the CTIA and App Developers Alliance,” said Bradley.

“From content management to everyday entertainment, mobile technology has changed the way we live and the way we work. To advance technologies it’s imperative that providers and local governments work together on elements like infrastructure and Seattle has demonstrated a willingness to do exactly that.”

Keynote Speaker and former Chief Planner of Vancouver, B.C., Brent Toderian said that “Seattle has a tremendous opportunity to capitalize on ‘density done well’ but you have to know what it means and you have to have the will to achieve it.”

State of Downtown also produced an Economic Profile for 2013 full of information on Downtown’s economic health.

Job Sector Survey – Deadline Extended to January 31

The Job Sector Survey (JSS) was established to provide elected public officials and policymakers with an on-the-ground assessment of the challenges and aspirations of all types of local employers. JSS is in its third year and received nearly 1,700 responses from 15 industry sectors in 2012. The JSS is a cooperative project led by economic development organizations in King, Kitsap, Pierce, and Snohomish counties, including Seattle’s Office of Economic Development and engages businesses of all sizes.

Results are shared with policymakers at the local, state and federal levels to help them understand business needs and how policy decisions impact your business. The sponsors hope to gain insights that will help create prosperity for all businesses and a job-growing economy. Data will also be compared with past survey results.

Here is a link to the third annual “Job Sector Survey.”

Employers are encouraged to take the JSS and be part of a collective voice for business. More participants make for better results.

All survey results are kept strictly confidential. Your responses will not be directly attributed to you in any public or marketing manner. The survey will remain open until January 31.

Over the past years, the Job Sector Survey has revealed:

  • Business aspirations by county, city, employment sector and size
  • Details about skills needed by specific types of employers
  • Insights into prominent trading partners and goods
  • Examples of obstacles to success by type and size of business

The Job Sector Survey is made possible with support from the Prosperity Partnership,Workforce Development Council of Seattle-King CountyenterpriseSeattleKing CountyEconomic Alliance Snohomish CountyPierce County Economic Development DepartmentKitsap Economic Development AllianceThe Seattle Timesthe City of Seattle’s Office of Economic Development, and The Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce.

Same-Sex Marriage Boosts Morale and Economy

On Sunday, hundreds of gay and lesbian couples gathered to get married in Washington State. The Seattle Times’ coverage of the historic day includes a spectrum of individual couples’ stories. Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn was quoted during the ceremonies at Seattle City Hall saying, “hey, rest of the country: get on board. There’s nothing but love and happiness happening here.”

Photo by Bettina Hansen / The Seattle Times
First Baptist Church in Seattle: 14 male and 11 female couples take part in a group ceremony on December 9, 2012.

As reported in the Puget Sound Business Journal, many Puget Sound businesses are using the historic day as an opportunity to gain a foothold in the same-sex wedding market. Seattle’s Renaissance Hotel, for example, offered a one-night special on December 9 for same-sex couples, including a luxury hotel room and a bottle of sparkling wine for $74. The Four Seasons in downtown Seattle offered a private ceremony and room package for $1,000. A UCLA study released in January estimated that new spending on same-sex wedding-related arrangements would generate $88 million for Washington State’s economy over three years, with up to $57 million in the first year. Another article from The Seattle Times covered the business boosts expected as a result of same-sex marriages in Washington State. The economic impact of the new law has already been apparent, according to reports from local business owners interviewed in both articles.

Recent Job Growth Has Positive Impact On City Revenue Projections

Job growth and economic activity in Seattle is outperforming the Puget Sound region and the rest of the country, according to statistics presented by Mayor Mike McGinn this week. This growth, combined with prudent fiscal management of City dollars, has led to improvements in the City’s General Fund outlook for 2013.

“Seattle got hit hard by the recession, and though we’re not all the way back yet, we are starting to make measurable progress,” said McGinn. “This will help us protect and in some cases strengthen the core services that contribute to making Seattle a great place to live and work.”

Since the end of the Great Recession, employment growth in the Seattle Metro area, which includes King and Snohomish counties, is up 6.6%, compared with the rest of the United States at 3.1% and the rest of the State of Washington at 1.9%. Taxable sales growth from the First Quarter of 2010 to the First Quarter of 2012 in Seattle is 13.2%, compared with the State of Washington at 6.3%, King County at 8%, and Tacoma at 8.2% over the same time frame. Activity in the construction, technology, tourism and the housing sectors accounts for much of this growth.

This local strength has had positive results for the City’s current-year revenue collections, particularly sales tax receipts. Collectively, actual revenue collections for 2012 are trending ahead of forecast by about $7.6 million. This is driven in part by economically-driven growth such as sales tax. Taxable sales in the construction industry are up 34%, driven mostly by apartment construction. Real Estate Excise Taxes are up, as are B&O taxes. City revenue collections are further enhanced by one-time, non-economic boosts to current year revenues from things like the City’s share of liquor store proceeds following the privatization of liquor stores in Washington State. The revenue picture is also helped by the anticipated increase in the county EMS property tax levy rate for 2014.

Taken together, the City’s revenue forecast adds $11.4 million in additional revenue to the City through 2014. This forecast will help the City work to close the previously projected $32 million General Fund budget shortfalls in each 2013 and 2014. Other factors helping our outlook include the passage of the Library Levy, cost savings negotiated with firefighters, and the conclusion of negotiations with the Department of Justice.

However, overall economic forecasts for 2013 and 2014 remain uncertain. Slow economic growth due to federal budget cuts, ongoing problems in the Eurozone, and rising energy prices mean that tax revenues may drop in coming years.

McGinn will announce the details of the 2013-14 budget on September 24. A full press release can be found at

Fixing America’s economy: nine ideas from around the world

Fixing America’s economy: nine ideas from around the world   
It may finally be time for Americans to consider ideas from a place that they don’t usually look to for inspiration: the rest of the planet. Countries as diverse as Germany, Brazil, Singapore, and Thailand offer ways for the U.S. to boost up its economy. There’s no guarantee that all of these ideas would work in an American context, but it’s time for some fresh thinking.

Lake Union Partners plans 300 apartments   
Daily Journal of Commerce
Lake Union Partners Seattle plans to develop 300 apartments in the Seattle area over the next three years. The first development will be the 52-unit Azure Ridge near Valley Medical Center, beginning in July. A 27-unit building on Stone Way North in Wallingford is also planned; construction is slated to begin in February of 2012. Lake Union Partners will focus on 30- to 100-unit projects because they can be permitted and built quickly and are easier to rent than bigger complexes.

How to spice up your sales meeting   
Sales play an integral role in the success and continued growth of a business. But keeping a sales meeting interesting is something even the sharpest sales reps struggle with. Take a look at some experts’ advice on how to mix things up.


As a service to the Seattle business community, the Office of Economic Development curates a daily business news blast, Daily Digest. As a feature on Bottom Line, we’re posting a handful of stories from the Daily Digest every day.  Find the stories informative or helpful? Keep checking Bottom Line or sign up for Daily Digest to receive the full version in your inbox every day. Subscribe to the Daily Digest here.


How to get face time with sales prospects

How to get face time with sales prospects   
Wall Street Journal
Nobody likes getting a cold call from a salesperson – it’s annoying and can be quite intrusive. An effective alternative is by asking prospects for their advice on your product or service. This puts the person in a position of authority; now they’re flattered and more likely to continue the conversation or hand you off to someone else on their team.

To boost the economy, help the self-employed   
Business owners are the solution to boosting the economy. But despite their importance to our economic health, nearly one-third of the small business owners run into issues because of outdated rules. The growth of entrepreneurs’ businesses are being hindered by tax and labor codes.

New tools for sales training   
Today innovators are leveraging new technology and new thinking to make better sales people. It’s time to make some changes in your sales approach and try something fresh. Take a look at some helpful tools for sales training.


As a service to the Seattle business community, the Office of Economic Development curates a daily business news blast, Daily Digest. As a feature on Bottom Line, we’re posting a handful of stories from the Daily Digest every day.  Find the stories informative or helpful? Keep checking Bottom Line or sign up for Daily Digest to receive the full version in your inbox every day. Subscribe to the Daily Digest here.

Ten things you might not know about the economy

Ten things you might not know about the economy   
Washington State just had some encouraging news – the unemployment rate is decreasing. But another example of today’s economy is student debt in the U.S. is now greater than credit-card debt. There are some more possible surprises, and economic signs to keep watching.

Waterfront Park: courted by Corner   
The lead designer for Seattle’s central waterfront park, James Corner, provides a seductive first look at his concepts. He proposes nothing less than to “re-center” the region around Elliott Bay. “We do indeed have the opportunity to reshape our waterfront into a truly green place – in all the dimensions that “green” implies, working with water and energy, creating habitat, and nurturing our economy and our culture in the process,” said Corner.

The new rules of building customer loyalty   
Do you want your customers to stick to you like glue? Today it takes more than a punch-card or priority line. Take a look at some helpful tips for building customer loyalty for your brand.


As a service to the Seattle business community, the Office of Economic Development curates a daily business news blast, Daily Digest. As a feature on Bottom Line, we’re posting a handful of stories from the Daily Digest every day.  Find the stories informative or helpful? Keep checking Bottom Line or sign up for Daily Digest to receive the full version in your inbox every day. Subscribe to the Daily Digest here.

AMC’s The Killing adds to the extensive list of reasons to renew Washington’s film incentive program

The Motion Picture Competitiveness Program (HB 1554/SB 5539) remains Washington state’s single best tool for securing motion picture business. Without it, Seattle’s film industry would lose the momentum that has led to a 30 percent annual increase in Seattle film activity since the incentive program was put into place. Washington’s film incentives benefit Seattle more than any other city in the state and also level the playing field with other states, such as Oregon, that compete aggressively for this business. 

One current example of the importance of the film incentive is the new AMC television series, “The Killing.” Its premiere this week sparked international critical and viewer acclaim, not to mention it’s set in Seattle.

The Office of Film + Music, in coordination with Washington Filmworks, worked for months to try and attract the filming to Seattle. In the end, producers took the production to Canada because renewal of the film incentive program was uncertain. Without the guarantee of the State film incentive, the production costs were much cheaper in Vancouver, B.C.  Seattle and Washington lost the opportunity to have a television series, with the potential of several years of filming, and the economic benefit of jobs and revenues over the life of the series.

Seattle supports this legislation because it will continue a program of incentives for the motion picture industry in Washington state, which is crucial for the health of Seattle’s film industry.

It is crucial that every film industry worker write his/her Senators urging them to support the bill. Your elected officials need to hear directly from you!

To find your Senator, please click here.

Key concepts

What is Washington’s Motion Picture Competitiveness Program?

In 2006, the legislature created an incentive program to attract film industry investment to Washington state. The incentive is administered by Washington Filmworks, a non-profit organization and guided by the state’s Department of Commerce. The program continues to attract out-of-state filmmakers, as well as support Washington production companies.

Why is this information relevant now?

Washington’s Motion Picture Competitiveness Program is up for renewal in the Senate with Bill 5539 and the House of Representative with House Bill 1554. Please support these bills to continue renewal of the incentive program and support creating jobs and maintaining Washington state’s film industry.

Who is Washington Filmworks (WF)?

WF is a private non-profit organization that manages the Motion Picture Competitiveness Program. The passing of the aforementioned bills would continue the B&O tax credit that supports WF, and create an environment for continued film investment and economic growth in Washington.

What are the economic benefits?

The economic activity from the incentive program has generated $107.7 million, and supported 59 projects, including 23 feature films, 4 television movies of the week, and 32 commercials since February 2007. Additionally, film companies provided 1,155 jobs in 2010 and 1,629 jobs in 2009 for Washington.

If you still aren’t convinced, check out this promotional video on YouTube.