With guest columnist Chris Mefford
This month in the Economic Spotlight, Chris Mefford breaks down...
connections prominently define this city's heritage, economy, and
identity. Seaport activity reminds residents of the role the city plays
in connecting the country to the global economy. Navy ships proudly
display the region's role nationally. Industrial jobs actively use
waterways for their contributions to the local economy.
lifestyles sustain the economy via seaward connections. Ferries of
varying sizes bring locals and commuters to and from nearby
neighborhoods and outlying suburbs lining the city's harbors and
shorelines. Urban housing close-in to Downtown shares piers with tourist
activities and destinations, along with the locals' favorite
restaurants. Yachts flaunt some of the city's affluence, and the
constant presence of sailboats shows broad affinity for the water.
come in waves via cruise ships. Dropped off near the city's fish
markets, tourists mingle with locals and wholesalers buying and selling
fresh seafood. Nearly all restaurants feature local fresh seafood, a
prominent visitor draw. Maritime museums and waterfront entertainment
venues lead visitor attractions, most notably its iconic opera house
evoking giant sails and maritime imagery.
robust maritime culture describes Sydney, Australia, which I had the
good fortune to visit in May. Aside from the opera house, this rich
scene could just as easily describe Seattle. Sydney is slightly larger
than Seattle, with 4.6 million people and approximately 2.4 million jobs
in its urban area, compared to our 3.7 million people living in our
central Puget Sound region with 1.9 million jobs (2010). In this way,
Sydney might serve as a role model for Seattle's next wave of growth.
provides more than a cultural touchstone; it drives economic vibrancy
and job growth. The Seattle region's 60,000 jobs directly related to
maritime activity include shipbuilding, fishing and seafood, water
transportation, boat building, marinas, oceanic research, cruises and
industrial activity that use our waterways, including natural resources (OED's 2009 study).
Our seaports are among the nation's busiest hubs, connecting the U.S.
to important trading partners in the Pacific Rim and China.
to maritime has additional benefits for regional jobs and companies. In
the Puget Sound region, approximately 580,000 jobs and 105,000 housing
units are within walking distance of our shorelines (31% and 17%
respectively, based on our cursory analysis). Seafood is the cornerstone
of our thriving food and restaurant culture, which feeds Seattle's
culture that in turn attracts talent to the region.
As always, a visit to another place makes one better appreciate his own home.