Monday, March 11, 2013

What are *your* dreams for Seattle's innovation economy?

I'm still not quite sure how this all came to pass, but I just trooped down to City Hall to be confirmed by the Seattle City Council as one of 15 members of a new City of Seattle Economic Development Commission.

It's an amazing group of people, including UW President Michael Young; Port of Seattle CEO Tay Yoshitani; Washington Biotechnology and Biomedical Association President Chris Rivera; and... me.

If I had to guess, it's probably because I've been making an increasingly noisy nuisance of myself on the topic of innovation ecosystems + and Seattle's global competitiveness for the past few years.

I started out just doing it in private conversations. Then I joined the board of the Washington Technology Industry Association and realized it was something the whole industry cared about. And then I started writing about it*

*Just a sampling of my rants on the subject include the following tl;dr inventory:
And my personal favorite...
The way I figure it, someone at the City got wind of this guy who kept running his mouth about Pacific Northwest innovation and decided they were better of having the lunatic inside the tent than out there running loose. 

First they invited me to a few public hearings about Seattle's startup community. Then I was asked to join an advisory group for a City of Seattle Startup Initiative. And the next thing I knew I was sitting in the Council chamber waiting for President Sally Clark to call my name for confirmation.

The Commission is a year-long appointment, which means I have about 12 months before the City realizes they've made a terrible mistake and throws me off the bus. 

In the meantime, here's what I need from you: if you live in the Northwest and read this blog you care at least a little bit about the future health of our innovation economy. 

If you have *any* ideas or suggestions for what the City of Seattle could be doing to make life better for entrepreneurs, I need to hear them.

And if you're skeptical about what role city government could possibly play in innovation, just remember that the City of Seattle is a $3.9 billion dollar enterprise with significant powers over local tax, transportation, zoning and land use, education, telecommunications, arts and public safety matters. The city is also an active partner with other regional influencers like the University of Washington and the Port of Seattle, not to mention State and Federal programs that directly (and indirectly) support city residents.

So *please* give me a shout and help me represent the hopes and dreams of our community on this Commission. I promise I won't make you sit in any meetings, and I'll do my best to make the case on all of our behalf...

Seattle City Hall photo at top by OZinOH