Dubai Airshow

On behalf of Greater Seattle Partners, I recently travelled to the Dubai Airshow in the UAE with the Washington State Department of Commerce and a delegation of aerospace companies. It was an action-packed five-day event consisting of key meetings and events with companies from more than 20 countries. It was honor to represent the largest aerospace supply chain in the country, if not the world.

Many other associated events took us around Dubai including, a welcome dinner at the tallest skyscraper in the world, Burj Khalifa; Deira and the old town Al Fahidi District; the AmCham Dubai Airshow kick-off breakfast at the Dubai South headquarters; AIA & U.S.-U.A.E. Business Council Reception in the US Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai; US AIA Industry Reception at the JW Marriott Marquis Dubai; and the Dubai Airshow Gala at the Atlantis, The Palm.

I was also able to organize tours of the 777x and the Boeing ecoDemonstrator for our Washington delegates, meet legendary Charlie Duke – the youngest human to walk on the moon, and visit the Chalets of the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA), Enterprise Ireland and Spirit AeroSystems. Of course, the flying demonstrations on the tarmac and exhibits of new UAVs and defense products were amazing.

It was an exhausting trip with just one day at the end to visit the desert.

Thanksgiving

Always nice to return to Northern California and visit with old friends from Clemson University and Lake Tahoe. Turkey and tubes!

IEDC Annual Conference

It was great to be in Nashville, Tennessee this year for the annual International Economic Development Conference. It was funny to travel so many miles to finally spend quality time with many of my colleagues here in Greater Seattle and Washington State. It was a pleasure to also see some old friends from my days doing economic development in Atlanta and Georgia. We produced a lot of award-winning campaigns back then.

Diversity, equity and inclusion were big topics of conversation as we work to build more resilient local economies in the face of an ongoing pandemic.

Here is a recent article I contributed to their “Economic Development Now” publications and research series on economic recovery:

Economic Recovery Spotlight: Greater Seattle Partners

Greater Seattle has experienced unprecedented and continuous economic gains since the 1990s. Global companies like Microsoft have risen to prominence and further diversified the regional economy from a historical reliance on Boeing and aerospace. Legendary companies such as Alaska Airlines, Amazon, Costco, and Starbucks have also come to call Greater Seattle home. Before the pandemic, the region ranked number one in annual GDP growth among large U.S. metropolitan areas. The Brookings Institute referred to Greater Seattle as one of five superstar regions and a top innovation hub. But like many fast-growing economies, the economic headlines hid challenges across the region.

Shortage of good jobs

A 3 percent unemployment rate pre-Covid obscured the fact that nearly 900,000 people in Greater Seattle were out of work or stuck in low-wage jobs.

Race and gender disparities across the economy

Race- and gender-based disparities were significant in terms of both income and business ownership. For example, just 38 percent of women of color with college degrees in Greater Seattle had a good job ($25/hr + benefits), versus 65 percent of white men with college degrees. 

Too few successful new businesses

Amidst a booming tech economy, Greater Seattle’s entrepreneurship ecosystem was growing by less than 8 percent.

In 2020, the reality of the global pandemic, its long-term economic challenges, and racial injustice escalated awareness of long-standing inequalities and a need for action. These factors drove a swelling of demand amongst Greater Seattle’s business and civic leaders to collaborate on an equitable recovery plan, and they tapped Greater Seattle Partners (GSP) to lead conversations to devise a way forward.

In May of 2020, GSP convened more than 200 community leaders across private and public sectors from King, Pierce, and Snohomish Counties to form a task force and develop a recovery framework, now called Forward Together. Over the course of a year, the task force developed goals, strategies, and actions, and then assembled a portfolio of ten specific, measurable initiatives that span four areas of focus. Published in June 2021, the Regional Recovery Framework serves as a roadmap for building a more resilient, equitable, and inclusive economy.

In September 2021, Forward-Together.org was launched to track and promote regionwide implementation of the framework, and to understand progress and address gaps. With additional leadership support from groups such as Civic Commons, Puget Sound Regional Council, the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber, and the Washington Roundtable, private and public leaders meet quarterly to further advance this work.

Greater Seattle companies have the resources and reach to lead economic recovery worldwide. But achieving our greater goals for more equitable participation in the region’s prosperity will not happen overnight. These initiatives are only successful if they accelerate economic recovery and realize the potential of those who have been most systemically excluded. Fortunately, there are already many positive signs with greater collaboration and investment in existing and new programs. By working together regionally, Greater Seattle can build the most equitable, innovative, and resilient economy in the nation.

Building Back Better

After 15 years of working in economic development whether in an agency, government, or public/private partnership model, the metrics to which we live by have always been new jobs and investment. The problem with this antiquated model is that it does not work for the 20% of our population who consistently cannot earn a living wage. It is still a part of what economic developers must do, but it is not enough.

In March 2020, the COVID-19 virus brought unprecedented economic disruptions to the United States and regional economies across the country. Two realities were almost immediately apparent: Covid would profoundly reshape the economy in ways that outlasted the virus itself, and it would hugely magnify existing inequities by race, gender, and geography. This crisis demanded a bold, strategic, coordinated, and inclusive response.

That is why Greater Seattle Partners and my team brought together a Task Force of public, private, and non-profit sector leaders from across the three county region in May 2020. This Task Force, which ultimately grew to include over 200 leaders, worked together for nearly a year to develop a long-term economic recovery framework for the region. Motivated by a shared understanding of the challenge and opportunity, the Task Force decided on a specific and ambitious set of inclusive growth metrics and identified a portfolio of initiatives that will form the core of the region’s long-term recovery efforts guided by Partners for Prosperity.

This Framework does not compete with other strategies in the region. Rather, it draws from strategies across Greater Seattle and aggregates the most widely agreed-upon and actionable parts of those strategies. This framework is a way to elevate the best ideas in the region, align public and private sector resources behind those ideas, and build systems that operate at the scale that this moment demands.

If leaders in Greater Seattle commit to investing in these initiatives at the speed and scale envisioned in this framework, and with an unwavering commitment to equity, this region will not only emerge from Covid faster – it will emerge as a national model of inclusive growth, a superstar region fueled by homegrown talent and businesses.

While the true work begins now, I am proud to have been a part of this herculean effort to develop more precise metrics and accountability to what has historically been an ambiguous and unsolved issue.

That you to the Puget Sounds Business Journal for your coverage:

Eastern Washington

I continue to be inspired by the stunning beauty, cataclysmic geology and agricultural productivity of Eastern Washington. Apples and cherries continue to be leading crops, but many people do not know that this region produces 75% of the nation’s hops, and it is also the 2nd largest producer of premium wine. Great beer, wine and scenery? Sold.

If you love geology, I highly recommend checking out Nick Zentner. He teaches at Washington State University and lives in Ellensburg. Whether you find yourself in Olympic National Park, Cascades, or the Missoula floodplain, Nick can certainly put the vast expanse of time and change in perspective via his podcast, PBS, or other streams of content.

Just a few scenes from the East Side. Click the thumbnails for a larger view.

GREATER SEATTLE PARTNERS ANNOUNCES NEW LEADERSHIP TEAM FOR BUSINESS ATTRACTION AND GLOBAL TRADE AND INVESTMENT

Seattle, Wash. (May 12, 2021) – Greater Seattle Partners (GSP) board of directors today announced two new senior hires and a promotion to drive economic development strategies for the region. Cynthia Carrillo will become vice president of economic development, Josh Davis will become vice president of global trade and investment, and Robert Payne will become vice president of marketing and communications. They join Emily Cantrell who just recently became vice president of operations and strategy after serving with the World Trade Center Seattle. They will lead the organization at a pivotal time as the economy rebounds and domestic and international companies renew site selection and trade development activities.

Full release here. Excerpt below:

“These individuals have demonstrated exceptional leadership with corporate site selection, company expansions, international trade and investment missions and business attraction around the globe,” said Brian P. McGowan, chief executive officer of GSP. “I am really looking forward to working collaboratively with the collective experience of this team to build a more resilient, equitable and inclusive economy for our region.”

Robert Payne
Robert has been instrumental in helping GSP weather the pandemic by managing external and internal marketing and communications, overseeing business development, building an economic recovery framework and launching GSP’s ‘Dear Rest of the World” campaign. Prior to joining GSP, Robert spent more than 7 years leading the global marketing and communication strategies for the Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDECD) where he garnered numerous awards for multi-channel marketing strategies that consistently delivered a strong ROI and helped position Georgia as the number one state for business 7 years in a row. Prior experience includes working in the for-profit software development and interactive agency space notably serving clients in economic development, tourism and media. Robert is a Clemson University alum with an MBA from the University of Nevada with a specialization in marketing.

“There is no doubt that Covid-19 continues to create unique challenges for our region as we look to re-engage our global partners and pursue new economic opportunities with international and domestic companies,” said Bill McSherry,” vice president of government relations, The Boeing Company and Board chair of GSP. “But through an extensive global search, we have built a highly capable team with the experience, tenacity and connections to overcome these hurdles and bring greater prosperity to the diverse communities across our region. I am really looking forward to GSP’s renewed role in building our economy back stronger than before.”

ABOUT GREATER SEATTLE PARTNERS
Greater Seattle Partners (GSP) is a public-private partnership that leads regional economic development through global business attraction, site selection and investment and trade opportunities in the greater Seattle region. GSP collaborates with community and economic development partners to ensure that every person in the Puget Sound region has the opportunity to prosper. We strive to attract and retain quality family/living wage jobs across all communities of the region. Throughout the world we tell the story of our talent, pioneering spirit, unique communities, and quality of life.

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Alta/Snowbird

Hadn’t seen these Clemson boys in a coons age. Riding lifts and skinning tracks.

I Eat Press Releases for Breakfast

Leaving Atlanta for Seattle not long before a global pandemic has led to many changes, and the scope of my job responsibilities is certainly one of them. In my former job, I had a Marcom team of nine, two designers, social media manager, interactive manager, project manager and four agencies of record, including a global public relations firm. Now I am all of these things, doing work I haven’t done since I was fresh out of graduate school. I know, the world’s tiniest violin is playing: you’re lucky to have a job young man. Whatevs.

One of those “duties” has been dusting off my press release writing chops and pitching stories to media. This one was rather interesting because it was centered around the Seattle region recently surpassing the very MSA I had just left ie Atlanta. Ah, the irony.

SEATTLE METRO AREA BECOMES 10TH LARGEST REGIONAL ECONOMY

Seattle, Wash. – Greater Seattle Partners (GSP) today announced that the Seattle metro area economy has become the 10th largest regional economy in the country, surpassing the Atlanta metro area in its first jump in this ranking since 2012. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for the region grew to nearly $383 billion in 2019, a 5.1% increase over 2018, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

“While there is no doubt that our ‘superstar city’ status is fueled by the tech industry and being home to two of the largest cloud computing companies on the planet, our pioneering spirit has long created household global brands from coffee to fashion to flight,” said Brian McGowan, chief executive officer of Greater Seattle Partners. “The diversity of our economy, world-class education institutions, a strong tax environment, and an unparalleled quality of life are just a few of the reasons why we are a great place to do business.”

According to Brookings, “90% of the nation’s innovation sector employment growth in the last 15 years was generated in just five major coastal cities,” which include Seattle. In fact, Seattle’s economy grew about 2.5x faster than the U.S. economy (metro portion) as a whole last year, and it marked the ninth consecutive year the regional economy grew by more than 3%, which is considered a good year. Since 2010, Seattle has been among the fastest growing regional economies in the country, expanding at an annual rate of 4.9 percent. Real GDP has grown by over 50%, which translates to about $135 billion in added value.

This GDP growth reflects pre-COVID-19 conditions and points to a resilient economy capable of emerging quickly from the pandemic. A recent October 2020 Puget Sound Business Journal article stated,  “venture capital deal values in the Seattle area are on pace to surpass 2019 levels, despite the pandemic,” which equated to approximately $3.6 billion in 2019. But job losses and business closures persist in the current economic conditions. To counter the negative impacts of COVID-19, GSP is leading economic recovery planning in conjunction with public and private partners across the region to support small businesses, accelerate the growth of competitive and emerging industry clusters, and ensure local workers have the skills and training to fill future jobs.

“While economies across the globe and communities here at home are reeling from the pandemic, I remain optimistic about the future of our economy and grateful to all who are working to support recovery, opportunity, and growth.  Our success as an airline is tied to our geographical roots and the amazing employees, partners, and communities who’ve forged our path to become the 5th-largest U.S. carrier with reach around the world,” said Brad Tilden, chief executive officer of Alaska Air Group. “As we look to 2021 and beyond, we will continue to connect the world to greater Seattle with new routes, pioneering technologies and customer innovations that keep guests safe and build stronger relationships between regional businesses and global partners.”

The complete top 10 list of regional economies are as follows:

  1. New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA
  2. Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA
  3. Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI
  4. San Francisco-Oakland-Berkeley, CA
  5. Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV
  6. Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX
  7. Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX
  8. Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NH
  9. Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD
  10. -Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA

ABOUT GREATER SEATTLE PARTNERS

Greater Seattle Partners (GSP) is a public-private partnership that leads regional economic development through global business attraction, site selection and investment and trade opportunities in the greater Seattle region. GSP collaborates with community and economic development partners to ensure that every person in the Puget Sound region has the opportunity to prosper. We strive to attract and retain quality family/living wage jobs across all communities of the region. Throughout the world we tell the story of our talent, pioneering spirit, unique communities, and quality of life. For more information visit Greater-Seattle.com.

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Dear Rest of the World

If you live in the greater Seattle area, I hope you can appreciate how daunting it could be to launch a regional marketing video between the pandemic, civil unrest, wildfire smoke and the upcoming election. It felt like threading a very fine needle. I was worried the video would stagnate or suffer potential backlash on social media with comments raging on about homelessness, anarchy and dysfunctional government. Fortunately, it went well because there is truth in the message and delivery.

Leading up to the launch date, I conducted extensive outreach to engage the broader community to amplify the effort. I have been humbled and inspired by the outpouring of support and positive feedback on the effort. Everyone from the UK and Japanese Consulates to Alaska Airlines, Port of Seattle, cities of Everett and Tacoma, and the list goes on. I think we all needed some positivity.

Join by sharing the video across your organization’s channels. You can simply amplify our posts by liking and sharing and/or launch your own custom complementary posts.

I hope every person across the region can see themselves in this video and be proud to share our collective story.

Help tell the world what makes Greater Seattle unlike anywhere else on Earth.

Robert Payne

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