Collaboration and community: Recent highlights from the Office of Economic Development

With the first half of 2018 in the rear-view mirror, we’d like to look back at some highlights of the last few months as we look forward to supporting you in your business and in your career.

Our teams have been hard at work for you in the community; we are pleased to report that as of mid-June, the combined efforts of our Small Business and Key Sector teams have directly provided services to 503 businesses. Our “Only in Seattle” team, through community partners, served an additional 374 businesses. In addition to individual contacts, read on for just a few examples of community convenings in which our office is engaged.

Africatown Innovation District Lunch and Learn:  In June, we were delighted to host Africatown in the Bertha Knight Landes Room of City Hall, where over 30 community and corporate leaders met to explore available resources and programs in support of a robust innovation district in the Central District. With a shared goal of preparing underrepresented youth for meaningful careers in IT and the creative economy, participants mapped current efforts, reflected on what is and isn’t working, and articulated their commitment to a more equitable tech economy. We thank GeekWire, Microsoft, HTC, HEREseattle, Seattle Colleges, Vulcan, Social Venture Partners and our City colleagues in Arts, IT, and Planning and Development for their time and energy. We look forward to next steps!


Peer Networking Event on Commercial Affordability: In our work with the Mayor’s Small Business Advisory Council, market and systemic pressures continue to make commercial affordability a significant challenge facing small businesses. In May, we convened about 15 business district managers from across Seattle at a local startup firm – Blokable – to discuss commercial affordability. The Office of Economic Development’s (OED) Only in Seattle, Small Business Development and Key Sectors teams, in partnership with the Seattle Chinatown International District Preservation and Development Authority (SCIDPDA) and Onpoint Real Estate Services, organized this peer networking event to share a model for commercial lease education workshops in Chinatown ID and Little Saigon, vet innovative solutions for affordable commercial space, and make connections between business districts.


Summer Youth Employment Experiences: As a part of our office’s efforts to provide a continuum of career-connected learning and work experiences for Seattle’s youth, every summer, employers across the public, private and non-profit sectors in Seattle open their doors to thousands of youth interns. We thank the private sector donors who have together contributed over $150,000 to support youth employment this year, and in particular, our valued partner JPMorgan Chase, who through five years of cumulative support, surpassed the $1 million mark in 2018!

Given our focus on equitable access and prioritization of under-served communities, including young women and people of color, we are thrilled to spotlight Zilllow Group’s “Shadow an Intern” event at their downtown headquarters. To better enable high school students to envision their careers and set themselves up for success, youth from TAF AcademyYWCA, and the Seattle Housing Authority enjoyed personalized tours of the Zillow office, and a panel focused on career development tips.

Until the fall, stay tuned to the Bottom Line Blog for updates, but in the meantime, please feel free to contact me if our office may better support you in your business and career!

Innovation and inclusion: Our first 100 day campaign

Here in the Office of Economic Development, we envision Seattle as the most innovative and inclusive city to start and grow your business and your career. I wanted to take a look back on our first quarter, and invite you to engage with us as we strive to support you in your business and career goals. We have too many highlights to mention to date, but here are a few of my favorites!

Small Business Advisory Council: We were delighted to help stand up the Mayor’s Small Business Advisory Council, a group of 27 committed small business owners from across the city representing the diversity and richness this community, ranging from solar panels to hula skirts, and various stages and sizes of business. Knowing that small businesses are collectively the City’s biggest employer (over 200,000 are employed in establishments with 50 or fewer employees), we are exploring how the City can better support them through programs, policies, processes and resources. Check out the inaugural group here, and if you have ideas you’d like this group to review, please email us at

Mayor Durkan joined by members of the small business community at Elliot Bay Book Company.

Only in Seattle Grant Awards: Our small businesses are not just an essential driver of our economy, but part of the cultural fabric that makes our unique and sometimes quirky neighborhood business districts, and Seattle itself, so special. This year OED was able to award $1.2 million in grants across 23 neighborhood districts, as “seed funding” towards community visions of vibrant and thriving districts. Special thanks to Theresa Barreras for her leadership in supporting our local stakeholders, as they create a sense of place and promote ownership in their communities.  Thanks too to Estela Ortega and El Centro de la Raza for hosting a fantastic celebration!

Life Sciences, Biotech and Global Health Roundtable: Seattle has some amazing assets in life sciences: Reuters rated the University of Washington the most innovative public institution, we have a center of excellence in immunotherapy, and with 14 times the national average of research and development talent concentrated in South Lake Union, we could very well be the city that cures cancer! For the Mayor’s first industry roundtable, Karl Stickel, our Director of Entrepreneurship and Industry, convened a group of executives across life sciences, biotech, and global health at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center (thanks for hosting!). We heard not just about the challenges facing the sector, but a wide range of innovative ideas to support its growth. We explored the intersection of tech and biotech, and the opportunity to highlight the women in this field, who were, in fact, the majority of the executives at the roundtable—let’s keep the momentum going! Please reach out if this is a group you might want to join, or have any other great ideas about supporting the sector.

Mayor Durkan speaks at her first industry roundtable. Photo courtesy of Fred Hutch.

Startup Roundtable: Startup Advocate David Harris pulled together an incredibly diverse and wide-ranging group of startups, investors, accelerators and incubators for the Mayor’s March roundtable discussion. With thanks to Amy Nelson and our friends at the Riveter for hosting, forward-thinking solutions included the concept of “returnships:” re-engaging working parents as they rejoin startups after family leave. One of the most surprising take-aways from the group was what they saw as an under-utilized asset: the Mayor’s megaphone in promoting our City’s startups. Have a great story to tell? Let’s make sure Pitchbook doesn’t miss Seattle on this list next year. Get in touch here.

Small Business of the Month: This year, small business advocate and life-long entrepreneur Pedro Gomez has taken on the role of leading our Small Business team, and along with our empathetic and experienced advocates, has increased their presence across the City, launching office hours in every district, and amplifying the stories of the small businesses we serve. OED launched our “small business of the month” profile, and our first featured entrepreneur was Kevin Moulder of Cubes Baking Company, who hopes he can inspire “other creative thinking Mexican-Americans” and the Latinx LGBTQ community with the story of Cubes. Not only can you read more about it on our blog, but the piece got picked up by Seattle Eater!

Kevin Moulder at the front counter of his bakery in Wallingford.

Thanks for spending a few minutes reflecting with us, and while you can always get in touch with me here, you’ll hear from me again next quarter!