Tag Archives: economic development

Development Dialogues

I recently sat down for a podcast interview with Global Media Inc (GMI), which is a digital media platform that brings together selected news and analysis, as well as customized regional economic reports published in some of the world’s premier publications: Foreign Affairsthe Japan TimesForbesForbes China, and Forbes Asia.

  • How do you effectively market an entire region?
  • What marketing channels should economic developers lean into?
  • How can economic developers create simple yet powerful marketing campaigns?

Now available on Spotify and Apple Podcasts:

2023 Excellence in Economic Development Gold Award from the International Economic Development Council

This marks my 7th Gold Award from the IEDC. Official press release:

Seattle, Wash. (September 28, 2023) – Greater Seattle Partners (GSP) received a 2023 Excellence in Economic Development Gold Award from the International Economic Development Council (IEDC) for the launch of Uncommon Thinkers Welcome. The award was bestowed specifically for the organization’s work in the Digital Media category that impacted 500,000+ residents. GSP also received the Bronze Award for Regionalism & Cross-Border Collaboration for population greater than 500,000. GSP was acknowledged and honored at the IEDC 2023 Annual Conference during the inaugural Recognition Night event in Dallas, TX, September 19.

“GSP has raised the bar for excellence in economic development with its Uncommon Thinkers Welcome program. This award is a testament to GSP’s dedication to its residents and serves as a great example of how economic development can help transform a community for the better,” said Nathan Ohle, IEDC President and CEO. “It is IEDC’s honor and privilege to present GSP with this award and recognize its leadership and innovation in the field of economic development!”

Every year IEDC looks specifically for economic development organizations, government entities, initiatives, and programs that have demonstrated consistent, exemplary performance in the economic development profession, leading the execution of projects that have a significant impact on revitalizing communities, and playing a major role in shaping and improving the practice of economic development.

“We are honored to receive this recognition from the IEDC. The goal of this project was to unite our public and private partners around an authentic brand position that captures the unconventional attributes that differentiate Greater Seattle from the rest of the world. In partnership with our fiercely creative friends at Mekanism, we conducted extensive regional and global research to inform the brand pillars and breathe life into what would ultimately become Uncommon Thinkers Welcome. It is very rewarding to see such strong results from the initial launch of the campaign, which would not have been possible without the help of so many amazing partners across the region that helped us clearly show – we don’t do things like everybody else,” said Robert Payne, vice president of marketing and communications.

“Since first partnering with GSP in 2019, we’ve been determined to prove that the fastest growing tech hub in the country is more than just rain,” said Lisa Zakroff, General Manager of Mekanism. “Together, we tapped into a truth about this region that resonated deeply with GSP’s partners, big and small, allowing for a campaign designed to feature them all. We loved the opportunity to galvanize so many
bedfellows who would seem strange anywhere but here.”

Uncommon Thinkers Welcome continues to garner regional adoption across Snohomish, King and Pierce County and has appeared in front of global forums across Europe and Asia. Driven by new ideas like we are, some of the regional companies and partners that have contributed to the growth of the brand are as follows:

  • Alaska Airlines
  • Amazon
  • Aquagga
  • Boeing
  • Campfire Coffee
  • Eighth Generation
  • Eviation
  • Feedme (Shubert Ho)
  • Just Evotec Biologics
  • Namatad
  • Pallet Shelter
  • Pokemon
  • Port of Everett
  • Port of Seattle
  • SAFE Boats
  • Seattle University
  • Spaceflight
  • TOTE Maritime
  • University of Washington
  • Virginia Mason Franciscan Health
  • Washington State University

To learn more about Uncommon Thinkers Welcome visit UncommonThinkersWelcome.com.

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.

About the International Economic Development Council

The International Economic Development Council (IEDC) is a non-profit, non-partisan membership organization serving economic developers. With more than 4,300 members, IEDC is the largest organization of its kind. Economic developers promote economic well-being and quality of life for their communities by creating, retaining, and expanding jobs that facilitate growth, enhance wealth, and provide a stable tax base. From public to private, rural to urban, and local to international, IEDC’s members engage in the full range of economic development practices.\ Given the breadth of economic development work, our members are employed in various settings, including local, state, provincial, and federal governments, public-private partnerships, chambers of commerce, universities, and a variety of other institutions. When we succeed, our members create high-quality jobs, develop vibrant communities, and improve the quality of life in their regions. Learn more at iedconline.org


APEC is advancing the inclusive growth we all seek in Washington

The following is an op-ed I ghost wrote for two former Governors and was published in the Seattle Times:

Special to The Seattle Times

As Seattle hosted the inaugural APEC meeting in 1993, Microsoft had just surpassed selling 25 million copies of Windows, Starbucks had launched 250 stores nationwide, Chukar Cherries had just opened in Pike Place Market and companies like Amazon, Expedia, and Zillow were not yet created.

Over the course of 30 years, our hometown companies have grown to more than a billion users on Windows, coffee at over 36,000 stores in more than 80 countries, and our companies are recognized in households across the world delivering online shopping and travel, cloud computing and a $4.99 rotisserie chicken.

As more than 3,000 senior officials and delegates from the 21 member economies of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation convene again from late July to mid-August, every Washingtonian has a stake in our state’s close ties with members of APEC as our jobs, small businesses, and companies are deeply connected.

The conference allows us to spotlight the Evergreen State and showcases our region’s thought leadership and values, deepens critical relationships, creates ongoing economic impact and supports the Emerald City’s restaurants and small businesses. The meeting comes as Seattle has surged once again to become the fastest-growing big city in the U.S. — driven by our innovative companies that are shaping the global economy in industry sectors such as aviation, clean energy, food, technology, life science, health and transportation. Our regional GDP is now a staggering $479 billion, establishing us as the ninth largest metro economy in the nation. This success would not be possible without connecting our innovation with free, fair and open trade with APEC’s member economies.

In Greater Seattle, our total trade with APEC member economies surpassed $1 trillion from 2012 to 2022, averaging over $90 billion annually, or 76% of the region’s total trade. Our deep connections have created jobs and fueled economic engines such as Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and our deep water ports in Seattle, Tacoma, and Everett — these are some of the largest global connectors and international gateways in North America.

As governors, we’ve seen the impact of trade both here and overseas. Abroad, we’ve promoted Rainier cherries in South Korea, french fries in Vietnam, and Almond Roca in Beijing. This was made possible solely by the hard work of Washingtonians: our farmers, entrepreneurs and workers. Right here at home, our trade relationships support more than 931,000 Washington jobs and 12,000 small businesses who produce and export billions of dollars of recognized products the world wants and needs.

To see the dependence of jobs on exports and trade, one only needs to look at Boeing, where 70% of their planes are sold to foreign airlines. Boeing’s 64,000 employees here in Washington, and the employees of its more than 1,000 suppliers across our region, would be dramatically fewer without these exports. These workers are not only our friends, neighbors, and family, but they support so many more jobs in our region as they visit their favorite coffee shops, restaurants and small businesses. This impact is repeated with companies large and small in our state.

APEC also plays a vital role in shaping our economy by providing an opportunity for all of us to collaborate and develop solutions to complex challenges such as climate change, digital access, energy diversification, gender inequities, global health and regulatory practices. Our state is leaning into many of these challenges to effect positive change and create more equitable prosperity across Washington, but we will accomplish much more when we work collaboratively with global partners.

As governors, we have seen how Washington state’s workers and families benefit from robust trade partnerships. We have heard from business and labor leaders alike that strong global demand for our products bolsters our economy. We share a rich history and connectivity with the Asia-Pacific region, and we remain steadfast in our commitment to grow our economic ties within APEC, recognizing the significant benefits that such engagement brings to our workers, families, and businesses. By fostering strong public and private partnerships and encouraging participation in APEC, we will ensure sustainable and inclusive economic growth for now and the next great Seattle companies.  

Paris Air Show

Great to be back in Paris to hear the roar of the F-35 and watch Boeing push the Gs on the 777x at Le Bourget. Lots of great meetings and was thrilled to win Best-in-Show for the sustainable design focus and indigenous artwork of our pavilion which was just an idea back at Farnborough.

“This pavillion grew from an inspiration by Greater Seattle Partners’ Robert Payne. Robert envisioned a green Choose Washington exhibit modelled after the Alaska Airlines’ holistic approach to sustainability, which includes not only ongoing advances in sustainable aviation such as those we were pleased to announce this week with ZeroAvia and Twelve, but also their gorgeous green headquarters building near Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.”

Other great highlights included a wonderful reception at Cercle National des Armées, boat ride down the Seine, the energy of the streets during Summer Solstice, and, well, just being in Paris. Also enjoyed a nice side trip to Nantes to tour Airbus and the adjacent innovation labs, as well as a boat excursion off the coast of Pornichet to learn more about their new wind farm.

Uncommon Thinkers Welcome

Anyone who has gone through the process of developing a brand position that encapsulates the unique values and spirit of a company or themselves knows it’s not easy, especially in a crowded and competitive marketplace. Even more so for a region that does not like to be defined or put in a box. That is why I like to think of Uncommon Thinkers Welcome, my latest brand development project, as more of an invitation than a label.

It has definitely been a journey moving through the various phases of stakeholder engagement – regional, domestic and international research – brand development and trademark – and final production. GeekWire does a great job of laying it out in this article, and I really appreciate their partnership in helping me launch the brand out in the world.

There are a lot of  fun but smart elements to the campaign.

I worked with each of these partners to provide social guidance and assets to amplify the launch. Of course, there were multiple channels involved to launch the campaign:

It has been an honor to work with so many amazing companies and partners to breathe life into this. I worked with more than 22 companies and partners to pull this off, including a 4-day video and photo shoot across Snohomish, King and Pierce County.

Paid media and much more to come!


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!


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.

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.

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.