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"While transportation and communications have certainly speeded up, Seattle remains a unique place, with a unique set of opportunities and challenges, as does every other metropolitan region around the world. . . . I hope you will see how the region’s location both in the upper-left-hand-corner of the U.S. map and in a key spot on the Pacific Ocean have shaped its history. I hope you will think about how trees, fish, rain, mountains and water have contributed to the trajectory of Seattle’s evolution from a resource-based economy to a diversified technology and commercial center.
And I hope you will think about why so many people have become rooted here, through good times and bad.”
What are Luis’ conclusions on the region as a Century 21 City? We’ve made it so far, despite the fact that the Seattle area is one of those mid-sized metro areas vulnerable to outside change. We have the spirit, the resources, the workers, the enlightened corporate leadership, government and a global outlook that will make the region work well into the future.
No guarantees, of course, but the region has the ingredients it needs. One in particular Luis cites is innovation, which he writes will be key to the future for any region that fancies itself a global leader. The University of Washington and other important research institutions will keep the region competitive.
Another is the region’s ability to attract smart, highly talented people. Luis says much needs to be done in this area.
“If the economic development establishment finds out that a business is thinking of bringing a factory to the region, the alarm is sounded and it’s all hands on deck,” he writes. “But if a bunch of big brains are thinking of moving here, we generally have no idea about their intention and few tools with which to recruit them. We understand how to attract physical capital but not how to recruit intellectual capital.”
Luis looks also at some issues that could affect growth. One is climate change and his take is unusual – the West Coast has the “most climate friendly weather patterns” in the country and could begin to absorb a larger share of national growth. The folks in the Lesser Seattle, anti-growth camp will not like that idea.
Luis ends his book interestingly. He is sitting at the Tully’s Coffee shop in Lincoln Square in Downtown Bellevue. Above him are Microsoft offices and the corporate headquarters of Eddie Bauer. Next door at the Hyatt is Brooks Sports. If he broke through the back wall he’d be at the headquarters of Paccar. Nearby is Expedia. Down the street is the Bellevue library with a statue of Mohandas Gandhi, a gift from the Indian government in recognition of the Eastside’s large Indian population.
“The things that count about the twenty-first century city are all around,” he writes. And placing his ending in Bellevue (he acknowledges it could be many other local places) makes the point that it is the region that is successful, not its individual parts.
Something for all of us to remember.
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