On Monday, December 12, the City Council unanimously approved Council Bill 117362 creating an Economic Development Commission to advise and provide recommendations to the Mayor and City Council on plans, policies, and regulations to promote sustainable and equitable economic development and job creation in Seattle.
This Commission is an implementation step for City Council Resolution 31282, adopted in April of 2011, which endorsed a program of specific economic development goals and actions to strengthen and grow Seattle’s economy. As the effects of this deep recession continue to challenge the local and national economies, the Council has kept working on ways to promote job creation in Seattle. Our goal is to have Seattle lead the way out of the current recession, rather than trailing the national recovery, as we have in the last several recessions.
Economic recovery is our most important priority – getting people back to work and stemming the tide of home foreclosures is critical for the health of Seattle’s families. It is also the only way that the City can effectively manage our budget challenges. Only a return to economic vitality will reduce the strain on our human services programs and restore revenues so that we can fund the other important elements of City services. Parks and libraries have already been cut to the minimum level of service before closing facilities. While we have maintained essential human services and public safety programs, this will become increasingly challenging in 2013 unless City economic activity and revenues rebound.
Recognizing these facts, the Council has approved two major policy initiatives, in 2009 and 2011, designed to do what we can to foster economic recovery. These policies were shaped in consultation with experts in economic development from business, labor, and the academic community. The idea for an Economic Development Commission came from these consultations. There was general agreement that the City must treat economic development as an ongoing priority, and that having a formal body that would advise the City on this topic would be an important way to help the Mayor and Council continue to focus on economic development. The Commission will be a forum to ensure that there will be a flow of advice from key individuals involved in economic policy meeting regularly to work through ideas and formulate policy recommendations.
Seattle has a dynamic business community, and we have reached the point where we are, in fact, recovering faster than the rest of the country. The question in whether we can continue to leverage our core strengths of iconic companies with global reach, a thriving urban industrial and maritime base, and a talented and highly-skilled workforce to reach full recovery and meet the continuing challenges of economic change.
The Commission will consist of ten members, representing a variety of economic perspectives, including small, medium, and large businesses, different types of industries, organized labor, neighborhood businesses, minority and women owned businesses, local economic professionals, and representatives of post-high school educational institutions. The Council and Mayor will share in the process of making appointments, and we expect the Commission to be up and running early in 2012.