Welcome to Downtown Seattle, said Kate Joncas, president of the Downtown Seattle Association, at Thursday morning’s DSA breakfast, a glitzy economic report on the state of downtown, circa 2011. The breakfast packed more than 1,000 into the Sheraton’s Grand Ballroom.
Joncas took as her tagline: “Game On,” as she tossed breakfast guests a pigskin metaphor and then proceeded to detail some of the successes and shortcomings of the economy in a 2011 snapshot. She pointed out that Seattle is now a vibrant urban center, nine urban neighorhoods, home to 58,000 residents, 3,200 of whom are school children.
She pointed out that 50 percent of the city’s jobs are located in the city’s eight distinct downtown neighborhoods. She touted Seattle’s healthy retail and its diverse arts and sports, singling out the Storm and the Sounders. She said that a quarter of all growth occurs in downtown, which she described (sorry Fremont) as “the Center of the Universe.”
If this cheerleading seemed a trifle overblown, Joncas was realistic in pointing out that Seattle has suffered a recession-era downturn, losing something like 21,000 jobs in recent years.
But she also warned against copying other cities. As she said, “What works elsewhere, in Chicago or New York, won’t necessarily work in Seattle.” She pointed out that, despite the success of “Portlandia,” a trendy new sitcom, Seattle has many reasons to be “glad we’re not Portland.”
Some of the to-be-glad reasons she cited are that Seattle is a mecca for high-tech game development, number one in arts per capita and headquarters to the likes of Amazon.com, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, NewBay Software, Nordstrom, PATH and Russell Investments.
Joncas’ preamble was followed by John Vechey, co-founder of PopCap Games and Dr. Robert Atkinson, founder of Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, who deplored the United States’ recent neglect of research and development, pointing out how far we’ve fallen behind other nations in science investment.
As many pointed out throughout the breakfast, Seattleites are welcome to share their ideas and stay informed at www.DowntownSettle.com. Change is coming and you can be part of it.