Seattle has launched a new project to support the growth of the Seattle technology startup community. The project, which is being developed in cooperation with leaders of the tech and venture communities, is another step in keeping Seattle’s economy growing. It is part of ensuring that Seattle continues to be one of America’s leading cities in fostering technology jobs and making the technology sector work as part of our economic development strategy.
The project is called “Startup Seattle”. It involves an array of specific activities that will support emerging technology companies. These, in turn, will encourage people involved with the technology sector to keep Seattle in the front of their mind when they think about where they can best find assistance, collaboration, and the thick web of community relationships that make innovation exciting and synergistic.
Specific steps in the program include:
- Hiring a startup business sector liaison;
- Taking over (by purchasing from the originator with his support) the resource website “startupseattle.com”;
- Forming partnerships with local organizations such as Code.org and Startup Weekend to increase access and connect high school students with local technology opportunities;
- Developing a marketing campaign to help attract talent to Seattle from across the country; and
- Supporting “innovation hubs” that make neighborhoods more attractive to early-stage technology companies, including initiating a market assessment of real-estate needs for startups in the University District.
Emerging tech sectors are usually closely related to great urban Universities, and the University of Washington has an outstanding computer science program and a policy of encouraging entrepreneurship. As the University District goes through its next stage of planning its future around the new University District Light Rail Station, this program can identify and develop the flexible low cost office space and other amenities that will complement the new transit system and the UW’s presence.
Strong economies are built on a network of small companies and people who are willing to take risks. When these small companies grow, they can make extraordinary differences in the lives of thousands of employees and their community. Microsoft, Starbucks, Amazon and Costco were once small companies that attracted venture capital with their promising ideas. Today, Seattle’s technology startup community is comprised of more than 700 companies such as Big Fish, DocuSign, Tableau, Zillow and zulily.
We’ve seen that targeted City initiatives to support emerging sectors can make a significant difference. The “City of Music” and “Only in Seattle” are two examples of successful, proactive programs aimed at supporting either a business sector or neighborhood business districts. Seattle’s entrepreneurs are a significant and growing segment of the local economy and Startup Seattle will create an even more robust environment for them and future generations.