As we get ready to say goodbye to 2014, The OED Digest team took a look back through the stories of the year. These top stories represent a cross section of the work of the Office of Economic Development to invest in and strengthen our local economy, from supporting small businesses, investing in neighborhood business districts, growing our competitive industry sectors that range from film and music to manufacturing and maritime, nurturing our local startups and restaurants, and investing in our local workforce. Enjoy a look back at these highlights from the past 12 months.
FROM CONCRETE BUNKER TO STARTUP HUB
The University of Washington’s Condon Hall will soon become Startup Hall, a home-base for promising early-stage companies and the hub of what’s expected to be Seattle’s next startup district. Startup Hall was the brainchild of a core committee of UW and entrepreneurial community leaders, including Paul Jenny, Vice Provost of the Office of Planning and Budget, and Chris DeVore, Director of Techstars and Chair of the City of Seattle’s Economic Development Commission. This is the first step in what will be a multi-year effort to transform the University District into a thriving entrepreneurial hub.
PUBLIC-PRIVATE PARTNERSHIP GIVES THE JOBLESS NEW SKILLS AND PROSPECTS
Although the U.S. is officially out of the recession and Washington state has gained back all the jobs it lost during the recession, there are many people still out of work. Vigor Shipyards and South Seattle Community College have created a maritime welding program to train dislocated workers towards long-term employment. This program has already provided secure annual wages to graduates, and is connected tothe Pathways to Careers initiative led by the Seattle Community College District and the Office of Economic Development.
MAYOR ANNOUNCES $2 MILLION INVESTMENT IN BUSINESS DISTRICTS
Mayor Murray joined neighborhood business district leaders and local business owners in Ballard to announce a $2 million investment in 18 neighborhood business districts as part of the Only in Seattle initiative. The Office of Economic Development’s Only in Seattle initiative supports investments in neighborhood business districts, and focuses on strategies to create healthy economic development opportunities. “This investment in neighborhood business districts is critical to our city,” said Mayor Murray. One of these business districts is Pioneer Square, where 26 new storefronts opened in 2013 (including 15 restaurants).
MAYOR SUPPORTS MARITIME AND MANUFACTURING INDUSTRIES
Mayor Murray convened a Maritime and Manufacturing Summit at Harley Marine Services with more than 100 representatives from business, labor, education, and government in attendance. Murray announced the creation of a new heavy haul network of truck routes that will enable permitted vehicles carrying overweight loads to travel on designated routes. “In the Seattle I envision, the manufacturing and maritime industries will continue to play a vital role in the economic and cultural life of this city, providing good jobs and maintaining a strong connection between our past and our future,” said Murray.
SEATTLE AMONG BEST CITIES FOR SMALL BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT
Seattle is among the top cities for making small-business development a priority and creating an environment that supports small-business growth, according to a new report released by the National League of Cities (NLC). The report cites the Seattle Office of Economic Development’s (OED) Business Retention and Expansion Program for its efforts to retain and grow early-stage and existing businesses. “This new report … shows that local leaders are in a unique position to create a small business ecosystem that connects entrepreneurs with city resources, including funding opportunities, streamlined regulations, and technical assistance,” said Chris Coleman, NLC’s president and mayor of St. Paul, Minnesota.
NEW MARKETS TAX CREDITS FINANCING AVAILABLE
The Office of Economic Development (OED) was awarded the authority to allocate federal New Markets Tax Credits on $28 million worth of investments. New Markets Tax Credits (“NMTCs”) attract private investment to important projects benefiting low-income neighborhoods. The Office of Economic Development has experience using these tax credits in the successful development of prior commercial and business projects, such as: Stadium Place, Retail Lockbox, Bullitt Center, INSCAPE building, and Pike Place Market.
HACK THE CD: HISTORY-MAKING HACKATHON AND NEIGHBORHOOD JAM SESSION
Garfield High School was the home of Hack the CD, an entrepreneurial jam session with Central District residents, business owners, community organizers, designers, and developers. The event aimed to help spur new and unique business creation through entrepreneurial education, community investment through collaboration, and social innovation through tech
COMMERCIALIZE-IZED IT!: NIKE, RICHARD SHERMAN TAKE OVER SEATTLE
Nike and ad agency Wieden+Kennedy filmed a group of Seattle Seahawk Richard Sherman national commercials this summer, hiring dozens of local crew and vendors. Sherman has had certain struggles when it comes to talking with the media, and in the recent campaign Nike spoofs his volatile relationship with the press. The Nike spots feature Sherman training in recognizable Seattle destinations such as Gas Works Park and Pioneer Square, and a guest appearance from Ken Griffey Jr. at Lost Lake Café on Capitol Hill. To see more locally filmed commercials, check out the Office of Film + Music’s Latest Work section of Commercialize Seattle.
NEIGHBORHOOD BUSINESSES GROWING FROM COMMUNITY LOAN PILOT
Four local businesses launched loan campaigns aimed to help them grow as part of a new partnership between local finance company Community Sourced Capital (CSC) and the City of Seattle Office of Economic Development (OED) Only in Seattle Initiative. The four businesses are B & O Espresso, Jude’s, Plum Bistro, and That Brown Girl Cooks, representing an assortment of food-based ventures, collectively raising up to $125,000 this month. “Businesses borrowing from their community have high repayment rates. They want to pay back people they know. It’s relationship lending, not anonymous lending, and it changes the way people think about their money in their community,” says Rachel Maxwell, CEO of Community Sourced Capital.
HELP ARRIVES FOR SEATTLE’S PROSPECTIVE RESTAURATEURS
Would-be restaurateurs have long complained about how difficult it is to open for business in Seattle. Now they have an online tool to guide them through the process. Called Restaurant Success, it gives detailed step-by-step advice and instructions for forming a business plan, considering a location, getting fully licensed, building out the space and finally opening for business. It even comes with the availability of a human helper, Jennifer Tam, who has the title of restaurant advocate in the Seattle Office of Economic Development. At a press conference announcing the website, officials talked about the importance of the restaurant industry in driving the economy by providing jobs and career opportunities. The website aims to become the first step in an ongoing state, county and city effort to streamline the process of opening a restaurant.
EXPERIENCE THE CITY OF MUSIC PROGRAM AT SEA-TAC AIRPORT
The Seattle Channel explores the Experience the City of Music program at Sea-Tac Airport in this City Stream episode. The program’s goal is to showcase the Northwest region’s diverse music culture and enhance the experience of millions of travelers who pass through the airport each year with live performances and the recent opening of a Sub Pop retail location. The video features appearances by Kate Becker, Director of the Office of Film + Music, Marcus Womack of the Seattle Music Commission, and Megan Jasper, Executive Vice President of Sub Pop. The program is a partnership between the Port of Seattle, Office of Film + Music, the Seattle Music Commission, and Play Network.