Scotland

It was a rich and moving experience returning to the U.K. for the World Economic Forum for Foreign Direct Investment hosted by Conway Data and Scottish Development International. I’ve worked with Conway and their editorial and advertising staff at Site Selection for more than 10 years, so it was fantastic to see several old friends in person.

Scotland has shaped the global economy with innovations such as the refrigerator, flushing toilets, tires, telephone and penicillin just to name a few. More recently, Scotland has given us the world’s first floating wind farm and the tidal energy array. Home to legendary authors such as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who’s books I read from cover to cover as a child from my father’s hardback collection, followed me through the old stone alleyways. I didn’t don a kilt, but there is even a Payne tartan.

Shortly after arrival, I participated in the Energy Tour that departed from Edinburgh and visited Dundee, St. Andrews and the Michelin Innovation Parc where we learned more about Scotland’s commitment to a clean and diversified energy portfolio. Between conference sessions, a welcome reception aboard the Royal Brittania, and the Gala Reception at the National Museum of Scotland, I engaged site selectors, companies, international investment promotion agencies, and others influencing the global conversation.

Seattle’s economic ties with Scotland and the U.K. run deep. Of the top 10 foreign-owned firms in Greater Seattle, the U.K. ranks #3 with 320+ privately owned companies; and 530 across Washington State. The U.K ranks #1 in total FDI projects across the state in the past 5 years with 15 new locates representing more than $450M in CapEx. It is also a strong trading partner ranking #6 with $1.82B worth of exports of Washington commodities, the majority of which come from Greater Seattle.

I look forward to welcoming old and new friends to Seattle soon!

Back to Baja

It has been a while since I was in Baja. The last time consisted of a long drive starting from Lake Tahoe and winding all the way down the 800-mile peninsula. That trip ended badly. So it was finally time for a refresh.

An easy flight from Seattle to Cabo San Lucas, and then a 1.5 hour drive north to Cerrito, put me right on a south, southwest swell that pumped all week. It was a good jumping off point to visit Todos Santos, La Paz, and the numerous surf breaks radiating out in all directions.

Because Baja and the Pacific Plate continues to separate from the Mexican mainland like a zipper, this geologic phenomenon will only continue to widen the Sea of Cortez by about 2 inches per year, leaving plenty of room for whales and waves – and you – to travel up and down both sides of its tip.

NEW INTERNATIONAL ARRIVAL FACILITY AT SEATTLE-TACOMA INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT

Officially opening in April 2022, the new $1 billion International Arrivals Facility (IAF) at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport nearly doubles the international gates from 12 to 20, and increases passenger capacity by more than double to 2,600 passengers per hour. Other new customer experience features include:

  • Reuniting passengers with their bags prior to security screening.
  • New technologies for faster passport check clearance.
  • A reduction in passenger connection time from 90 to 75 minutes.

One of the more stunning features of the IAF is the 780-foot-long aerial bridge with a moving walkway that sits 85 feet above the taxiway where jets cross below. Travelers enjoy picturesque views of Mount Rainier on one side, and the Olympics on the other.

Delta Air Lines will offer 45 weekly nonstop flights to Amsterdam, Incheon, London, Paris, Shanghai and Tokyo. Alaska Airlines will leverage its membership in the Oneworld alliance to allow mileage members to book flights with international airline partners including British Airways, Japan Airlines and American Airlines.

Since 2020, SEA has welcomed several brand-new international services, including Qatar Airways to Doha, WestJet to Calgary, American Airlines to London, and Alaska Airlines to Belize. Other new destinations coming in 2022 are Air Canada to Montreal in May, Aer Lingus to Dublin in May, Delta Air Lines to London in May, Alaska to Edmonton in April, and Finnair to Helsinki in June.

Reveal Reception

It was an honor to join Governor Inslee, Port of Seattle and SEA staff, Clark Construction Group, construction and trade workers, and everyone who worked to design, build and activate the new IAF facility at the reveal reception.

The art and architecture of the facility evoke the natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest, and it served as an inspiring backdrop for the moving cultural performances that delighted everyone in attendance. Local performers included:

It was especially poignant when Georgia Montero, an Alaska Native and member of the Tlingit Tribe asked for a moment of silence for the people of Ukraine before he permeated the giant hall with timeless and sublime flute music.

On a lighter note, the folks at Port of Seattle have put together some very fun graphics to celebrate the opening of the new IAF and your international travel memories. They are encouraging you to print your favorite SEA international direct destination icon, then take it to your favorite Seattle location.

The IAF is an invaluable new asset for our region that enhances and expands international relations, trade and travel with our global partners, and greatly improves the needs of our diverse communities.

Come experience it yourself! #flySEA #WelcomeIAF

*All photos courtesy of the Port of Seattle.

Industry Collateral

Whether showing up at Mobile World Congress or the Dubai Airshow, I like to give you some real data to sink your teeth into. I’ll go out of my way to give you solid industry data and real case examples. Plus, I just love to learn. Call me old school, but I also still think there is a place for collateral piece. Of course, I’ll always complement it with a web presence as well.

Below are some samples of a recent IoT brochure. The IoT ecosystem in Greater Seattle is pretty incredible.

Charleston Holiday

Hard to believe it had been almost three years since returning home to Charleston. But the holidays eventually pull the sleigh back to your place of birth. The smell of shrimp and grits, surf wax and gunpowder mixed well with the piney aroma of a Christmas tree. Never enough time to soak it all in, but it was a success nonetheless.

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.

The intersection of work and lifestyle: Seattle, Washington

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