Economic Opportunity Task Force
An Economic Opportunity Task Force is convened to identify ways in which
city government could support and enhance Seattle’s
In 2001, Seattle’s job base suffered blows both seismic and economic.
In response, in the spring of 2002, Mayor Greg Nickels convened an Economic
Opportunity Task Force of business, labor, community and education representatives
to create a “to do” list that would identify ways city government
can better help to support and enhance the city’s job base.
In their deliberations, task force members identified issues involving transportation,
permitting, utility infrastructure and rates, land use and services – or
lack of services -- for small businesses. They identified the need for new
initiatives requiring cooperation between city government, the University of
Washington and the Port of Seattle . They also suggested new approaches for
assisting distressed neighborhoods and industrial areas, and they developed
a wide range of ideas for ways that the city can help promote education and
worker training, entrepreneurship, capital formation, and access to capital.
The Task Force report, entitled “ Seattle : Open for Business,” made
the following key recommendations:
- Support and campaign for the state transportation funding package set
forth in Referendum 51, while working to ensure greater equity for Seattle
- Support the University of Washington and its capacity to generate new
jobs and businesses.
- Simplify land-use and zoning codes that have grown to more than 1,500
pages and inflate Seattle housing costs.
- Work with the Port of Seattle to develop and implement a common vision
for Seattle’s seaport that will enable the city to remain an international
center for marine industries while accommodating new economic opportunities.
- Change the way the city taxes technology businesses. Development of technology
shouldn’t be treated as manufacturing because current development costs
are not related to current income. Don’t create a disincentive for
knowledge-based companies that can easily relocate.
- Strive to maintain a utility rate structure that supports wealth-generating
economic activities and create a new program to plan and fund basic utility
- Focus economic development programs on distressed business districts and
develop new partnerships with other governments to serve the city’s
designated industrial areas.
- Boost the city’s small business base by improving customer service
programs, creating ombudsmen or “troubleshooter” services for
businesses experiencing problems with government. Also, help small businesses
to address their parking problems.
- Be a regional advocate for work force development, training and apprenticeship
programs. These programs empower people to improve their work skills. The
Mayor of Seattle, working with Seattle and neighboring Community College
presidents, should be their public champion.
- Market Seattle as a city that helps businesses to succeed. Work with other
governments and agencies in the region to develop a “Seattle: Open
for Business” program aimed at attracting companies that pay family-wage
jobs, as well as supporting tourism, conventions, music and film making,
and other businesses.
- Develop an interdepartmental economic development strategy that makes
the retention and growth of “family-wage” jobs and an increased
tax base primary objectives for city government. The strategy should account
for all city departments. It should include a public-private plan to spur
capital formation and entrepreneurship. It should also help to create stronger
links between workforce development programs and the needs of family-wage
Task force members would work with the City to help implement these recommendations
and quarterly meetings with the Mayor would provide opportunities to discuss
Since the report was published, considerable progress has been made on several
AFTER ONE YEAR:
Mayor Greg Nickels announces One-Year Report Card on efforts to improve
economy, add jobs – responds to Economic Opportunity Task Force
Report Card Press Release (Word format)
Report Card (PDF format)
June 12, 2003
AFTER THREE YEARS:
Mayor reconvenes Task Force to help continue economic growth
Year Report press release, June 28, 2005 (PDF file
size 36 KB)
Year Report Card (PDF file size 1,000 KB)
June 28, 2005
AFTER FOUR YEARS:
Mayor’s Economic Opportunity Task Force releases
recommendations to continue economic growth
Release (PDF file size
January 19, 2006
Report from the Mayor's Economic Opportunity Task
Mayor's Response to the EOTF Report -
Mayor Nickels Strategy for Building a Stronger Economy
- Focus on the basics - (regional and local transportation, including
signs, street maintenance, public services, broadband communication services
and neighborhood business districts).
- Make it easier to do business In Seattle - Make it easier and
faster to get city permits; simplify and streamline the city's land use code;
improve customer service.
- Be strategic and pro-active so that Seattle remains competitive
- Make sure no one is left behind
Economic Development in Seattle (from the Mayor’s
July 30, 2002 Press Coverage ( Seattle Times)
On Seattle task force's 'to do' list: speeding up business permits
By Jim Brunner, Seattle Times staff reporter
July 30, 2002 Press Coverage ( Seattle Post
Nickels turns his attention to business
By Phuong Cat Le, Seattle Post-Intelligencer Reporter