City of Seattle’s economic programs recognized nationally

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Richard Conlin

City of Seattle’s economic programs recognized nationally
League of Cities touts three business engagement programs

Today Mayor Mike McGinn and Councilmember Richard Conlin celebrated the National League of Cities (NLC)’ tool kit for local leaders, entrepreneurs and small businesses. The tool kit highlights the economic development practices of seven cities, including Seattle’s Office of Economic Development (OED)’s business services program.

“We are committed to providing access to services to local businesses to help them grow and compete in our local economy,” said Mayor McGinn. “I congratulate my staff and our Office of Economic Development for their work to forward the goals of my Seattle Jobs Plan. I also thank Councilmember Conlin for his work to support Seattle’s local economy. The National League of Cities’ recognition of our work is further evidence that Seattle is on the right track.”

Under the Mayor’s Seattle Jobs Plan, the Office of Economic Development has developed a number of programs to better serve the local business community. Three of the programs: the Business Retention and Expansion Program; the monthly City Business Casual networking series; and the Citywide Business Advocacy Team (CBAT), are highlighted as successful examples of how to engage business communities and promote economic development.

“As President of the City Council when the recession hit, my first priority was to get Seattle’s economy back on track. These programs are examples of the Office of Economic Development’s key role in supporting our business sector and getting people back to work,” said Councilmember Richard Conlin, NLC board member, and chair of the Planning, Land Use and Sustainability Committee. “Economic recovery cannot happen by itself and the purpose of my Economic Recovery Resolution, is to make it easier to do business in Seattle by identifying and removing unnecessary barriers to growth and helping the private sector thrive. The tools highlighted by the National League of Cities are working in Seattle and I believe they can help other cities too.”

Business Retention and Expansion Program
OED created the Business Retention and Expansion Program to actively reach out to businesses to understand their needs, help them navigate government processes and connect them to resources. Interactions with individual businesses are tracked by staff, ensuring proper follow-up and identification of systematic and recurring problems. This information is then used to advocate for policy or services changes to better reflect the on-the-ground needs of local businesses.

Through partnerships with key stakeholders, such as the Downtown Seattle Association, enterpriseSeattle, Environmental Coalition of South Seattle, Manufacturing Industrial Council and Washington Biotechnology and Biomedical Association, OED communicates directly with the local business community and respond to its needs. Over the past two years, OED has conducted 1,219 such business visits and provided 671 businesses with resources and assistance.

“OED staff work hard at continuous improvement of our business assistance programs,” said Council President Sally J. Clark, chair of the Council’s Committee on Economic Resiliency and Regional Relations. “Staff know that even a little support to a small business owner can mean more jobs, more business buzz in a neighborhood and overall success in the city. I look forward to studying the other cities’ efforts for great ideas.”

City Business Casual
The monthly City Business Casual networking series provides the Seattle business community with regular, direct access to business-focused city officials, including influential city leaders and key department heads and representatives. Business owners and advocates have a chance to ask questions, suggest ideas, and troubleshoot specific issues in an informal and relaxed setting. For upcoming dates, visit the City Business Casual webpage.

Citywide Business Advocacy Team (CBAT)
The Citywide Business Advocacy Team helps businesses navigate government services, with over 75 businesses assisted in 2011 on issues ranging from permitting to public safety to land use. The key to its success is the interdepartmental group with representation from all of the major departments involved in regulatory, zoning and economic development issues, including Economic Development, Planning and Development, Transportation, Seattle Public Utilities, Seattle City Light, Police, Fire and Finance and Administrative Services.

“We have developed finance and advocacy programs to support micro enterprises, small and growing businesses, and our larger employers,” said Steve Johnson, director of the Office of Economic Development. “Our priority remains to continue to execute programs that are relevant and meet the needs of businesses throughout Seattle.”

OED also has a business services portal that directs businesses to resources they need to START | GROW | or GREEN their businesses at

National League of Cities
The National League of Cities (NLC) is dedicated to helping city leaders build better communities. Working in partnership with the 49 state municipal leagues, NLC serves as a resource to and an advocate for the more than 19,000 cities, villages and towns it represents.

Learn more at the National League of Cities’ Supporting Entrepreneurs and Small Business Toolkit.

See the full City of Seattle’s Office of Economic Development profile at the Seattle, Washington profile under City examples.

City’s Office of Economic Development (OED)
OED supports a healthy business environment and empowers companies to grow and compete. We provide services directly to businesses through advocacy, retention and expansion assistance, and workforce development. OED has several financing options for businesses, including options for small to medium to large businesses. Visit to access city services for businesses, and for more information about our office, visit

Seattle Jobs Plan
Mayor Mike McGinn’s vision for next generation economic development that creates a sustainable economy with shared prosperity in Seattle was launched in August 2010. It consists of new and existing policies, programs and investments designed to help create quality jobs, protect the environment, and ensure that taxpayers get true value from the city of Seattle’s public investments. For more information, visit

Seattle City Council
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