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!
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.
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.
I can be a creature of habit. I like certain routines. Comfort zones are my friend. With that being said, I’ve lived in 5 different states in the past 15 years. And in that same time I’ve worked for 4 different companies each with their own challenges, rewards and experiences. Most recently, I left a comfortable job of 7+ years to follow my wife to Seattle. I didn’t predict any of it.
I recently took my two boys to the gravesite of Bruce Lee and his son. I am not a cemetery seeker, but it was a sunny day in mid-winter, and the adjacent Volunteer Park designed by the Olmsted Company is a great place to visit. So we headed over. Standing in front of Lee’s grave reminded me of childhood and the awe of watching his movies. And not just his physicality, but the discipline and balance of his movements. He once delivered a now famous quote: “Be water, my friend.” I’m sure this quote represents different things for different people, but for me it is about being adaptable. It is about constantly improving based on whatever situations you face. And having the courage to break free from a pattern. So I am taking that and giving it to you as well for what it is worth.
Speaking of water, there has been a lot of it here in Washington recently, and I have had fun capturing it in its many forms. Side note: if you don’t know about eastern Washington geology then fire up Google and take a look. Imagine a skyscraper high wall of water moving at 80mph. You’d “be the water” whether you like it or not.
Seems like good timing when you move to Seattle, and then not long after the U.S. News & World Report releases their “Best States Ranking” with the state of Washington at the top of the list.
Education, fiscal stability and infrastructure are just a few of the categories they used to assess the strength of a particular region. After working in economic development for more than 7 years, and servicing EDs from the interactive agency side for more than 5 years, I can attest to how important these factors are to site consultants and companies. People often assume that discretionary and statutory incentives play the largest role in a company’s decision to relocate. And they wouldn’t be wrong. Job tax credits, R&D tax credits, investment tax credits, energy savings, and many other mechanisms to save companies money – that they can reinvest – are all very important.
But without the available workforce, and solid workforce training programs in place, any region is going to suffer over the long haul. Washington has that figured out, hence the reason they ranked #4 in that particular category. But what about “Natural Environment”? We all love it. We all need it. But here there is a Governor who has made it a cornerstone of his policies.
It has certainly been an awesome experience getting my little future workers out in the beauty that surrounds Seattle. Here are some recent outings.
A boy takes a leap from Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park.
A woman looks out over Puget Sound from Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park.
Mount Baker looms large over a lighthouse in the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
A tanker passes by Dungeness Spit.
A sailboat makes its way across Puget Sound outside of Seattle in the afternoon light.
But certainly looking forward to seeing/learning/experiencing more.