Workshops to Help Your Business Navigate the Local Economy

On Wednesday, September 18 from 8-9:30 a.m., The Seattle Good Business Network will be hosting The Winning Recipe: Add Local Flavor workshop. This event will help businesses to fine-tune their strategies to attract new customers and compete against non-local chains and corporations.

There will be a panel of all-stars from Seattle’s local independent business community to discuss the topics that matter to your business, including:

  •  How to attract customers who need more incentive to shop local
  •  How to change the perception that local costs more
  • The ‘showrooming’ phenomenon and how to combat it
  •  How to turn your personal, day-to-day commitment to your business—and your community—into an advantage
  • How to leverage partnerships and cross-promotion with other local businesses

This event will be held on Wednesday, September 18 at The HUB Seattle, 220 2nd Ave S. from 8:00 to 9:30 a.m.

For more information and to register, click here.

On Wednesday, September 25, Seattle Good Business Network will be hosting Invest Locally: A Community Workshop with Michael Shuman. This workshop will help to educate, connect, and spark dialogue around the emerging field of community capital.

Spend a day learning about the local investment revolution from one the nation’s foremost authorizes in the subject. Whether you are an entrepreneur, consumer, policy maker, or student, you will never think about our local economy the same way. Michael Shuman, one of the nation’s foremost experts on local economics and local investment, will teach how you can help shift investment into our local economy.

This event will be held on Wednesday, September 25 at the HUB Seattle, 220 2nd Ave S. from 8:00 a.m. to 5 p.m.


For more information and to register, click here.

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.



IRS Hosting Workshops for Small Business

The IRS has released their latest list of events and resources that provide small business with current information about tax policy essential to keeping business finance procedure up to date. Check out what they are offering.

Understanding the Affordable Care Act and Washington State’s Health Benefit Exchange

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) is moving closer to full implementation. Washington State has chosen to establish a Health Benefit Exchange, a marketplace where individuals and businesses can shop for insurance plans. The business marketplace is called SHOP (Small Business Health Options Program). The SHOP is for companies with fewer than 50 employees and opens on October 1, 2013. Enrollment for individuals opens October 1, 2013 and ends March 31, 2014. This is a good opportunity to learn about significant changes to health care delivery and what they mean for business and employees.

When: Monday, August 5 — 9:00 a.m. to 11 a.m.

Where: Environmental Services Building, 9850 64th Street W., University Place, WA 98467

Register Online or call Hans Kueck at: 253.798.2335

New Business Tax Workshops – Washington State Department of Revenue

Learn the basics of Washington State taxes. This free workshop will help explain tax reporting responsibilities. Tax reporting classifications, deductions, sales tax collection, and record keeping requirements will be discussed. There will be an opportunity to ask questions regarding taxes that apply specifically to individual business. To find out when the next workshop will be held in your area, and to register, click here.

Can’t attend a workshop in person? Watch an online workshop or tutorial.

Tips for Employers Who Outsource Payroll Duties

Many employers outsource their payroll and related tax duties to third-party payers such as payroll service providers and reporting agents. Reputable third-party payers can help employers streamline their business operations by collecting and timely depositing payroll taxes on the employer’s behalf and filing required payroll tax returns with state and federal authorities.  Though most of these businesses provide very good service, there are, unfortunately, some who do not have their clients’ best interests at heart. Over the past few months, a number of these individuals and companies around the country have been prosecuted for stealing funds intended for the payment of payroll taxes. Examples of these successful prosecutions can be found on

Like employers who handle their own payroll duties, employers who outsource this function are still legally responsible for any and all payroll taxes due.  For an overview of how the duties and obligations of agents, reporting agents and payroll service providers differ from one another, see the Third Party Arrangement Chart on The full article lists some steps employers can take to protect themselves from unscrupulous third-party payers.

Here are some steps employers can take to protect themselves from unscrupulous third-party payers.

IRS Has Updated Online Small Business Tax Workshop

The Internal Revenue Service has updated one of its most popular tools, the virtual small business tax workshop. We’ve also renamed it … Small Business Taxes: The Virtual Workshop.  The online workshop now has updated content, enhanced navigation, interactive features and a completely new look and feel.  The nine interactive lessons still provide training for small business owners who want to learn about their tax rights and responsibilities.

View Small Business Taxes: The Virtual Workshop

Get All the Tax Benefits You Deserve

Find out if you are taking out all the deductions you’re entitled to,  and what business tax credits you’re eligible for.  Watch this one hour webinar and find out!




New Bilingual Street Name Signs Unveiled in the Chinatown-International District

On Saturday Mayor Mike McGinn and Chinatown-International District Business Improvement Area (CIDBIA) board member Tuck Eng unveiled the first of several bilingual street name signs at the 2013 Dragon Fest, the Chinatown-International District’s summer festival. The first sign, located at the corner of Sixth Avenue South and South King Street, is being installed as part of a neighborhood wide program in Seattle’s historic Chinatown and Japantown. Over the summer, translated street name signs in English and Chinese, or English and Japanese will be added to over thirty intersections through a partnership between the CIDBIA and the City of Seattle.

“These signs will help us celebrate the ongoing diversity of the Chinatown-International District, as well as help people navigate the neighborhood,” said Mayor Mike McGinn.

The CIDBIA worked with over 100 neighborhood stakeholders, fifteen family associations, local ethnic media, the University of Washington, and translators from the Seattle Municipal Court to translate the existing street names into traditional Chinese and Japanese. Neighborhood stakeholders identified translated street name signs as a way to recognize the historic significance and culture of the neighborhood. With the installation of the bilingual street name signs, the project provides a historic reminder of the populations that built the community. It also aids in preserving the CID’s identity and supports wayfinding.

“Not only is the [street sign installation] a wonderful reflection of the neighborhood’s rich cultural history, but a reflection of the international hub that Seattle has become.” says Executive Director of the CIDBIA, Don Blakeney.

Read the full press release here.


“What Seattle Really Thinks About Local” Event on June 5

Understanding what your customers and neighbors really think about shopping and buying local can have a profound impact on the way a company does business – and help the company fine-tune its strategies to compete against non-local chains and corporations. As part of a new event series, Seattle Good Business Network is hosting ‘What Seattle Really Thinks About Local,’ on June 5 to present the results of a major, exclusive survey examining the perceptions and attitudes of Seattle and King County residents when it comes to spending money with local, independent businesses. The Office of Economic Development provided support for research that will give you a first hand look at:

•    How Seattle/King County residents define the term “local”
•    The importance of buying from locally owned businesses compared to other decision factors
•    How much more, if any, residents are willing to spend on local options
•    How attitudes differ by key demographic and psychographic factors
•    The key implications for your business

Visit the event site for more information.

Mayor launches Startup Seattle Initiative to support local technology startup community growth


startupseattle-ad-bannerLeaders of Seattle’s startup community and the city of Seattle have teamed up to launch Startup Seattle, an initiative to support the growth of the Seattle technology startup community and establish Seattle as an internationally recognized home for emerging technology companies. Today, Mayor Mike McGinn hosted a press conference to announce the group’s action plan at the downtown Seattle headquarters of Zillow, one of Seattle’s most successful startups in recent years.

“Startup companies are an important part of Seattle’s innovative local economy,” said McGinn. “That’s why we are working hard to support startup businesses that could turn in to the next Microsoft or Amazon. I thank all of our partners in this work to help support our local economy, which is growing faster than the rest of the region, state and country.”

“Economic recovery doesn’t happen all on its own and this initiative is consistent with Council’s economic recovery resolution calling for actions that make it easier to do business in Seattle,” said Councilmember Richard Conlin.

During the next year, the City plans to hire a startup business sector liaison, re-launch the resource website, form partnerships with local organizations such as, Startup Weekend and Student RnD to increase access and connect high school students with local technology opportunities, and develop a marketing campaign to help attract talent to Seattle from across the country. In addition, the City will continue to support “innovation hubs” that make neighborhoods more attractive to early-stage technology companies and initiate a market assessment of real-estate needs for startups that will be used to guide new transit-oriented development in the University District.

To learn more about StartupSeattle, visit:,

To read the full press release, visit:

Council Approves Renewal of Metropolitan Improvement District

The Seattle City Council voted yesterday to renew the Metropolitan Improvement District (MID) in Downtown Seattle for another 10 years, expanding the MID’s service area from 225 to 285 square blocks with the addition of the Belltown neighborhood and several added blocks in Pioneer Square.

The MID provides a broad range of services to Downtown that go beyond those provided by City of Seattle, including – streetscape cleaning, public safety, human services outreach, hospitality, and other services. The MID’s work is designed to keep Downtown’s participating neighborhoods inviting, clean and safe.  The new service areas will begin on July 1, 2013.

Jim Miller, president of the Belltown Business Association, said his neighborhood is excited to be part of the MID. “We require added services in order to address our crime, human service and cleaning needs beyond what the City could offer. Now, as part of the MID, we’ll get the help we need.”

Each day, the MID’s team of 62 uniformed Ambassadors can be seen providing services in the Denny Triangle, Pioneer Square, Retail Core, Waterfront and West Edge neighborhoods, and now Belltown. MID Ambassadors clean streets and alleys, remove graffiti, help visitors find their way, coordinate services for people in need and much more. The MID also employs off-duty police officers who help reduce crime in special emphasis areas.

Among the enhancements a renewed MID will bring are:

  • Additional MID Ambassadors for sidewalk and curb cleaning.
  • Additional off-duty SPD teams to focus on drug activity and other illegal behavior.
  • New retail recruitment program to help fill street-level storefront vacancies.
  • More outreach services to homeless people and others in need.

Learn more about the Metropolitan Improvement District (MID)

Six More Space Needles Add To Skyline, Views Will Not Be Tarnished

Development in South Lake Union has grown quickly, and concerns about maintaining views of the iconic Space Needle have come to the forefront.  In response to these concerns, and to ensure views of the Needle will not be tarnished, local companies have purchased six plots of land around the city in order to build replicas of the landmark in multiple locations.

Amazon, Microsoft, Boeing, and Real Networks, among others, have bought plots in hopes that it will ensure a mutually beneficial living and working environment for all Seattleites. The now seven Space Needles will represent the original seven hills on which Seattle was built.  The new locations will be in six different neighborhoods across the city, celebrating diversity among Seattleites: Wallingford, Capitol Hill, Beacon Hill, First Hill, Magnolia, and West Seattle.

The Office of Economic Development is partnering with these companies to ensure that the rising economy is in sync with the unique urban environment of Seattle.  Steve Johnson, Director of the Office of Economic Development, said at a recent press event that “the future of our city depends upon the delicate balance between developing our economy and nurturing our culture.  We cannot afford to let one slip into the shadow of the other. I believe that the new Space Needles built around our city will bolster a sense of pride in the place we call home.”

Construction of the first of the new Space Needles will start next month.


Edit: Happy April Fools’ Day!

‘Moving Forward United’ Conference For Emerging Young Professionals

Registration is now open for the second annual National Urban League Western Region Conference, hosted by the Seattle Urban League Young Professionals (SULYP). The conference will take place from Friday, February 22 through Sunday, February 24, 2013. Young professionals will have the opportunity to connect with peers through games, music, and food. On Saturday, three empowering workshops will cover career advancement, financial success, and civic leadership. The weekend will also include a community service project and a charity gala.

To register for the event, click here.

Consultant Opportunities Workshop with Seattle Public Utilities

Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) is hosting a workshop on January 23 at Seattle City Hall to provide consultants with information about upcoming opportunities to do business with the department.

The workshop, which will be held in the Bertha Knight Landes Room at Seattle City Hall, will run from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Project managers will present information on upcoming SPU projects, including phased engineering support services for Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) planning, design and construction in CSO basins.

Some of the workshop topics include:

  • SPU contracting processes
  • Working with SPU
  • Women and minority-owned business inclusion plans

Project Managers and other staff will be available to speak one-on-one with consultants. (This session will be timed and consultants will be asked to rotate.) All questions asked during the “General Q&A” and “Business to SPU” portions of the workshop will be recorded and published.

Due to room size, advance registration is requested to guarantee admittance. Registration will also help SPU develop a distribution list for future events.

Register at:



Learn more about Seattle Public Utilities, at:

In addition to providing a reliable water supply to more than 1.3 million customers in the Seattle metropolitan area, SPU provides essential sewer, drainage, solid waste and engineering services that safeguard public health, maintain the City’s infrastructure and protect, conserve, and enhance the region’s environmental resources.