Seattle's Trade Alliance: Going beyond Regional Boundaries
Shimek, Daila, O'Brien, Kevin, Petrone, Susan, Nation's Cities Weekly
Leaders of the nation's cities are increasingly involved in collaborations aimed at ensuring the competitiveness of their regional economy for the benefit of the area's residents. This article about the Greater Seattle initiatives begins a Weekly series on these efforts at "regional economic governance."
These articles build on NLC's long-standing focus on regional economies and inter-local collaboration. Among the products of that focus are:
* NLC publications, including the 1996 survey of 476 cities American Cities in the Global Economy, have highlighted the local challenges and opportunities presented by the international economy.
* In 1996 and again in 1998, NLC conducted successful national conferences on "Achieving World Class Local Economies."
* The 1993 Futures Report, Global Dollars, Local Sense, presented the case for city officials to develop more fully their cities' roles in the global context.
* The path-breaking report, "All in it Together" documented that the economic fates and fortunes of cities and suburbs are tied together in their "local economic regions."
This new series will include articles that spotlight economic governance efforts in the regions of Seattle, Atlanta, Dallas/Fort Worth, Pittsburgh, and the San Antonio/Austin corridor.
Seattle's location, at the northeastern tip of the Pacific is a prime spot for international business and trade. In order to capitalize on the region's geographic advantages, the Trade Development Alliance of Greater Seattle was created in 1991.
Its primary goals are to promote the Greater Seattle area in domestic and international markets; raise awareness of the area's exports, marine and aviation facilities; and to encourage tourism and investment in the region.
The Trade Development Alliance is a collaboration of the Port of Seattle, Metropolitan King County Government, Snohomish County Government, City of Seattle, City of Everett, Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce and union leadership, all of which represent a population of approximately three million people.
Representatives from the seven partners make up a twenty-member executive board that oversees six full-time staff members. The Trade Alliance also has a sixty-member Advisory Committee and a membership of over 190 companies. Because the Trade Alliance's aim is to supplement, not supplant, other organizations, all business members who wish to join the Trade Alliance must be a member of a chamber of commerce. Funding primarily comes from partnership support and is supplemented by membership fees.
The Trade Alliance is credited with beginning to tie together a patchwork of fragmented local international economic development initiatives with a regionwide effort that strives for a consensus between business, government and labor. The "Foundation for the Future" study facilitated by the Trade Alliance, for example, has been used by three counties--King, Snohomish and Pierce--to develop their own economic development action plans that dovetail with a regional vision. …