Suzanne Dale Estey, President & CEO
As our 45th year at the Economic Development Council of Seattle & King County (EDC) winds down, we are reflecting on the past as well as this year’s performance at continuing to become a stronger, more sustainable, innovative, proactive, high performance, collaborative and globally-facing organization. I am so grateful to have worked over the past two and a half years with a dynamic board of directors, a dedicated staff team, top-notch economic development colleagues in the public sector, forward-thinking industry leaders, and countless partners to help move this organization forward during an incredible period of economic transformation for the Seattle region. It gives us great hope that amongst politics, divisions, jurisdictional lines, and an infinite number of opinions and perspectives, the EDC is a go-to organization where common ground can be found and plans can be executed in the name of increasing economic vitality across King County and the region.
As the only public-private economic development partnership in King County including business, labor, government, workforce and education partners, the EDC is producing results across King County and its 39 cities in business retention, expansion and recruitment, and has been doing so for 45 years. We do this through cluster-driven, client-focused economic development in collaboration with many partners. I am pleased to report that with the support of a significant and growing list of many valued public, private and non-profit investors, we are achieving great results.
So far this year (Q1-Q3 2016), by a tight definition of “win” in our free and confidential client work, we’ve directly helped more than 28 businesses grow or retain over 2,167 jobs and invest over $320 million in the Seattle-King County region. We will roll out our complete 2016 results at our Economic Forecast Conference next month. After a travel freeze in 2014, our team marketed Seattle-King County at over 25 trade shows and trips around the world in 2015 and 36 in 2016. After rebuilding our Business Development Team, we have engaged over 2,000 clients. Given our broader role of marketing Seattle-King County around the world and supporting our key economic clusters, our “wins” are in the context in which King County gained 47,700 jobs in the past year and unemployment is at a low 3.9%.
However, our work is far from finished. Even in robust King County, far too many people are unemployed, thousands are working two or more jobs and are under-employed, and we are facing a serious erosion of middle-income jobs. We also need to continually prepare for the next downturn, and in today’s competitive global economy, we can’t be complacent.
In 2017 we will implement our 2017 Economic Vitality Action Plan, and continue to strengthen our board engagement, financial sustainability, and our brand and mission awareness amongst key regional leaders, real estate and corporate decision-makers. The quarterly performance report card we established in 2014 focuses on objectives, action steps and metrics to gauge measurable impacts in four key programmatic areas as well as organizational vitality. We’ll continue to report our progress to you on a quarterly basis in a clear and transparent way, and we welcome your feedback as we refine and strengthen this approach.
As the eyes of the world continue to be on the Seattle region as an emerging global center with incredibly diverse industry clusters, we will continue to work to capitalize in order to retain and recruit jobs and strengthen economic vitality across King County. Please take the time to read our Business Development Team’s updates in this edition of EDC Economic Insight which highlights many client stories in our diverse economic clusters, current trends, collaborations, and the results we are achieving. Feel free to reach out to our talented EDC team members directly about projects and clients of interest.
We are working hard to let the world know that the Seattle-King County region is the Home of Big Ideas and the birthplace of cutting-edge research and development across all of our economic clusters. We are a national and global leader on multiple fronts from the cloud/big data to commercial space to immunotherapy, and our companies have global impact every day.
Our 45th Annual Economic Forecast Conference (EFC) on January 12, 2017, EFC45, will explore “Business without Boundaries” and provide a regional look at cutting-edge business trends, our uniquely diverse industries and the Seattle region’s emergence as a global center. Check out our fabulous speakers line up. EFC45 will be an opportunity to highlight the region, the EDC’s work and many partnerships, and for you to garner the latest data and emerging trends from a top-notch agenda of speakers. I am thrilled to report that we have almost doubled our EFC sponsorship revenue from last year to over $121,500 -- more sponsors than ever in event history have stepped up to support our marquee event, and we anticipate record-breaking attendance of over 800 people. Please register today!
So what else is in store for the EDC in 2017? A few highlights of our exciting plans:
- We will continue to address the significant economic disparities facing our region through inclusive strategies. We are honored to be partnering with JPMorgan Chase and the UW Foster School of Business’ Consulting & Business Development Center on an important new initiative to help accelerate the growth of small businesses and jobs in high priority targeted economic clusters, with particular focus on small businesses owned by women and people of color, and businesses that do or could provide employment in lower-income communities.
- We will continue work in Aerospace & Defense and Maritime & Logistics (among other clusters) to grow middle-income jobs. Our new Military & Defense Business Development Manager, Larry Salter, is meeting with many of the over 640 military and defense suppliers throughout King County, thanks to a $50,000 grant from the Washington Military Alliance in partnership with Washington State Commerce and the US Department of Defense. He will also be helping to identify and foster new opportunities to build on our region’s strengths in innovation and R & D with our military partners.
- We will continue to roll out and strengthen our website, communications and research tools, to better position the incredible region of Seattle-King County and highlight our valuable market intelligence resources and tools, including information about investment opportunities in King County’s 39 cities and diverse communities.
- We’ll execute another extensive cluster-driven, proactive marketing and trade show strategy, and continue to improve our pre and post-trip planning, performance measurement and follow up. Check out our draft 2017 Trade Show & Related Cluster Driven Marketing Plan here and join us on a trip or two!
- We will continue to engage in multiple economic development initiatives:
- the finalization and early implementation of the Regional Economic Strategy led by the Puget Sound Regional Council
- Challenge Seattle
- the Seattle Region Partnership’s focus on middle income jobs in the region
- follow up from last year’s Public Sector Summit on Economic Development in King County
- the Port of Seattle’s continued increased focus on economic development
- and we will revisit efforts to implement the Greater Seattle Region Global Trade & Investment Plan along with our friends at the Trade Development Alliance of Greater Seattle, Commerce department, the other regional ADOs/economic development councils and many others to help companies “Go Global” and up our game in Foreign Direct Investment as well as continuing to increase the region’s exports. A majority of the EDC’s clients are now globally-facing opportunities, so we know this is a long-term strategic direction and imperative.
- We will continue to learn about new ideas and approaches, best practices from around the world, and continually improve our work through partnerships, efficiencies and innovation.
- We will listen to you and lean on you for your support and engagement in this important work.
As we work to position the Seattle-King County region for job growth and global competitiveness, we need your engagement, client referrals, commitment through EDC membership, and active participation. Engage with us through social media, or pick up the phone and share your ideas on emerging economic opportunities. And I hope to see you at our 45th annual Economic Forecast Conference on January 12, 2017!
Please enjoy the happiest of holidays! Our best wishes to you and your family for peace, health, fun and prosperity – and hope – in the coming year!