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.