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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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.

Oregon Days

The massive stone headlands guard the cove from the wide expanse of the Pacific Ocean. Winds from the north or south can destroy any chance of good surfing, so finding shelter like this is special. We follow the meandering path down through the forest of Western Red Cedar, Hemlock and Sitka Spruce. A skinny creek runs alongside our course nourishing the roots of these massive trees. When full with rain it will carry worn pebbles to the beach before losing itself to the sand and sea.

The trail ends at a high bluff. The water is deep blue, and the waves are good. It doesn’t take us long to pick a spot where the cove best captures the subtle bend and refraction of swell.

Will positions a pin tail he shaped into the pitch of a fun right. On his feet in an instant, he grabs the rail, tucks, and leans on a Greenough fin to drive in front of the pocket. I hoot as he follows the curvature of the sea floor beyond my sight. Bobbing in the cool water, the skin of a wetsuit insulates my body. A breeze blows offshore bringing the warmth of land and smell of the forest.

My oldest son is there. I’ve fretted over him for years, but now I don’t need to apply such a careful eye. Will’s partner, Andrea, points. I turn to see him riding a fun left. He manages the speed and spontaneity well. Quality time spent in lower latitudes helps make the moment.

That night Andrea makes Manhattans, and we talk of surfing in her home country of Peru. We make indefinite plans. Will and my wife, Julia, grill leeks and meat. Our two boys poke the fire. That night we lay on the cool sand of the beach. The stars are at our fingertips. Aliens may have landed, but we were in our tents by then.

The next day we arrive late to a different beach. A towering dune of sand 250 feet high morphs into a stone promontory. Prehistoric waves broke at its base. A lone haystack stands guard further out. Grey whales breach and blow. The surf is good. It is the smell of sunscreen again; surf wax; and neoprene. A hint of breeze. We paddle out. Chances appear on the horizon and attempts are made. But a more determined wind deteriorates the conditions. The union is over.

We will try again tomorrow.

Seattle to San Diego

It was a quick trip from Seattle to San Diego to catch some fun surf pushing southwest off of Hurricane Marie. I was little apprehensive to fly on a plane for the first time since COVID-19, but a recent tour of SeaTac made me feel better about it. Kudos to Alaska Airlines for only charging $30 one-way for a surfboard.

I met two friends who I grew up with in Charleston, one who lived 3 doors down from me on the same block. The special fact that three southerners were converging from our homes in Los Angeles, Encinitas and Seattle for 5 days of consistent California surf was not lost on any of us. We had a blast.

As I’ve moved into my 40s, the 6’8 Crowd Killer by Lost has become my go-to travel surfboard for variable conditions whether paddling into deeper or steeper waves or battling offshore winds. Plenty of foam while still maneuverable and dynamic. I also highly recommend these travel bags by Wave Tribe for being durable, protective and sustainably made.

Packed light for the plane so no professional photos this time. Oh well, more time for surfing…

Tahoma (Mount Rainier) National Park

For anyone who lives in the greater Seattle region, Mount Rainier (or maybe it is time for Tahoma National Park?) is a spectacle to behold. “She’s out” is a common refrain from Seattle/Tacoma residents when the weather is nice. The mountain dominates the horizon, and while majestic, poses a significant risk to an ever increasing population.

Considered a dormant active volcano, it is believed to have erupted as recently as the late 1800s. The mountain averages 30 small earthquakes per year, and there is geothermal activity around the crater that will rid its rim of snow not long after a snowstorm. More incredible are the mind boggling sizes of past mudflows that have raced down her flanks at speeds of 50mph and as high as almost 500 feet. Ancient forests have been found buried deep below the surface. And these flows have made it all the way to Puget Sound.

Glacial activity on Rainier continues to sculpt the landscape – and swallow the occasional climber. There are a total of 25 glaciers on the mountains, and the volume of snow and glacier ice is equivalent to that of all the other Cascade Range volcanoes combined. You could fill T-Mobile Park stadium in Seattle 2600 times.

Emmons Glacier is on the northeast flank of Mount Rainier, in Washington. At 4.3 sq mi, it has the largest surface area of any glacier in the contiguous United States. Photo by Robert Payne

Take the time to learn more about the impressive geology that has shaped greater Seattle and this mountain into what it is today. It will make you feel small and insignificant, but you will be a better person for it.

While Rainier continues to stew in her own juices and whisper to the underworld for direction on her next great show, we get to explore her flanks and marvel at the sheer magnitude of this 14,411 foot peak that rises some 3 miles above greater Seattle.

Photo by Robert Payne
Photo by Robert Payne

See you out there…

Mountains to Sea

Despite the limitations brought on by Covid-19, there is still been room to breath here in the Pacific Northwest. Time to slip and slide up a snowy trail in the Cascades as vegetation begins to emerge from the melt. A chance to paddle out and surf in the powerful and cold currents of the Pacific. As a father, there is little time to setup an epic photo, but my 10-stop filter comes in handy when I can’t wait around for the perfect shot.

Northern Cascades
Oregon Coast

Robert Payne

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