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November, 2012 E-News

Special Economic Development Edition:

I usually publish my newsletters quarterly, but we have a pack of education and job development related activities happening this month.  

  • 13th Year  Lately I've been investigating programs that get youth on track for college and then cover at least the first year of school. This is about education, but it's also about building powerful citizens and a base of skilled people companies compete to employ.
  • A chance to talk informally with government officials and others in the business community at City Business Casual.
  • A twitter list you can use to track local and national economic development. 

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13th Year – Why Not a Year of College for All Seattle High School Graduates?

There's a lot of talk about the changing mix of jobs in Seattle and other places. Amazon has openings for literally thousands of people. Boat building is about to boom due to changes in regulation. Heck, the City is about to hire 68 new police officers.

For all of these jobs the competition will be fierce. Employers of all kinds want top-notch new employees. As a city, we want people from here to compete as well as people coming in from other places in the country and world. To compete, more and more you'll need a college degree or training certificate to make even the first cut. According to the Seattle-based Alliance for Education, "By 2018 it is expected that 67 percent of living wage jobs will require some form of post-secondary education, which includes two- and four-year colleges, trade and technical schools and programs."

Yet more than a quarter of Seattle's high school graduates don't go on to college in the year after they graduate. Not having money for tuition is one big reason, but not having the confidence and preparedness are equally important.

Several local educational institutions are working to help students who don't think of themselves as "college people" get a higher education. I've been learning about the programs that work to get young people hooked into going on to college or a trades program. Some of our local colleges and universities have amazing programs. Some other cities in the United States have set the bold goal of getting every high school graduate a year of post-high school education and I think we can do the same in Seattle.

Councilmembers Richard Conlin, Jean Godden, Bruce Harrell, Mike O'Brien and I are hosting a lunch-time discussion Friday, Nov. 16, entitled "A Year of College for All High School Graduates," at City Hall in Council Chambers (600 Fourth Ave.). We have an esteemed panel to help guide us through the topic:

  • Jill Wakefield, Chancellor, Seattle Community Colleges
  • Gary Oertli, President, South Seattle Community College
  • Chris Kinsey, Principal, Chief Sealth International High School
  • Rachelle Sharpe, Director of Student Financial Assistance, Washington Student Achievement Council
  • Kay Lewis, Assistant Vice President for Student Life and Director of Financial Aid and Scholarships, University of Washington Husky Promise
  • Elizabeth Pluhta, Associate Vice President for College Relations and Advancement, South Seattle Community College

I encourage you to attend or watch the discussion live on the Seattle Channel (channel 21).

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Own a business? Please take the Seattle Chamber survey

Last year the Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce did a survey of nearly 1,700 businesses in the Puget Sound region and found some very interesting results. Here are some of the highlights:

  • Small companies with 6 to 100 employees are the most likely to hire.
  • Sectors expecting to add headcount include energy, aerospace and manufacturing, life sciences, and information technology and interactive media.
  • Of the sectors expecting growth, only some say they will hire. Many others expect higher sales or new contracts, but won't hire proportionately. This is especially true for sectors hurt badly by the decline in consumer spending in 2008 and 2009.
  • One in four employers say they have to recruit outside of their county to attract top talent.
  • There is universal appreciation for the high quality of life in the four-county region, but it is less so than in 2010.
  • Tangible items such as proximity to universities and transportation infrastructure rose in importance over 2010.
  • 79 percent of employers said specific degrees (BA, MBA) would make employees more valuable. These employers were in the life sciences, international trade, human services, education, professional services, health care and energy sectors.
  • 59 percent said they need employees with vocational training. These employers were in the energy, tourism and recreation, transportation, aerospace and manufacturing, and real estate and construction sectors.

The Chamber is conducting their 2012 survey of companies in King, Kitsap, Pierce and Snohomish right now. They'd like to know your opinion about the future of our regional economy and how business is going for you. Please take a moment to offer your knowledge and insights.

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City Business Casual

Over the past few years the City's Office of Economic Development has sponsored regular informal evening gatherings of business people, Seattle elected officials and department staff. This is called the City Business Casual series. I've participated in a few of them and I have to say it's been totally educational. I've met owners of small and large businesses, people looking to start businesses and people looking for help as they expand or change their business. The business people have had a chance to meet each other and informally ask questions about City loan programs and who to talk with about various regulations.

I've heard stories of great partnerships coming out of City Business Casual conversations and clearer lines of communication for businesspeople who just never knew much about city government.

No pre-registration for City Business Casual is necessary. The sessions do not include a formal program, but Office of Economic Development staff actively make introductions and connections among attendees. Business owners and advocates also have a chance to ask questions, suggest ideas, and troubleshoot specific issues in an informal and relaxed setting.

The next City Business Casual will be December 4. Check out this website for locations, theme, and guests.

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Twitter list for Economic Development

Check it out here.  If that's not to your liking, I made a few other twitter lists too – how about educationFoodTransit?  If you've got any ideas of who I should add to the lists to paint a more complete picture feel free to send them my way –


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