A reminder to city leaders: Business is not the enemy

Seattle faces the question of how much left-leaning policy toward business the golden goose can handle.

As I’ve been warning for nearly 10 years, cities around the world want to take our economic assets. Even some on the Eastside would love to see the city stumble and help those suburbs regain their ascendancy.

The big exclamation point came when Amazon announced on Sept. 7 that it would build a second headquarters, “to be a full equal” of Seattle. Scores of cities are competing for the jobs-and-investment prize of the decade.

Yet the reaction of the city’s political leaders ranged from lethargic to misinformed and even demagogic.

After a great ride, has Seattle reached a tipping point? For years, political leadership was secondary to the city’s many assets, business and civic leaders, and deep-pocket stewards. But the time always arrives where political leadership is indispensable.

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On the day of Amazon’s shocker, disgraced Mayor Ed Murray put out a news release saying, “My office will immediately begin conversations with Amazon around their needs with today’s announcement and the company’s long-term plans for Seattle.”

I’ve never lived in a city where the mayor didn’t have regular, ongoing meetings with top employers. This has grown only more important as major industries have consolidated, leaving many cities behind. But apparently this is not even on the do-list at Seattle City Hall, much less a priority.

Both mayoral candidates and a majority on City Council depict Seattle as a city full of “crises.” In their blue way, they echo President Donald Trump’s campaign rhetoric of cities as “hellholes.”

Both are wrong. Seattle is one of the most successful and fortunate cities in America, and not only by standard business and economic measures.

For example, a gold-standard report on sustainable and equitable growth gave metro Seattle high marks overall and decent ones throughout, even though all American metros have a long way to go.

A Bloomberg survey of census data last year showed that while Miami was the most unequal big city in America, Seattle didn’t even make the top list.

Housing prices and rent are expensive in the city, but it’s not among the most expensive nationally. This is largely a result of simple supply and demand in an attractive city of 84 square miles.

It is not a sinister conspiracy of a developer…

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