Regional recovery requires a healthy downtown Seattle

By: Rachel Smith Posted: 03/08/2021

Relief and recovery for our 2,600 members throughout the region is the top priority for Seattle Metro Chamber

Relief and recovery for our 2,600 members throughout the region – including the 40% outside Seattle – is the top priority for me and the whole Seattle Metro Chamber team. We are here as your partner, your advocate, and your voice.

In Friday’s Seattle Times, Downtown Seattle Association President & CEO Jon Scholes and I wrote about one of the critical elements for recovery in our region: revitalizing downtown Seattle, which – in addition to existing challenges – has been hit especially hard by the consequences of the pandemic. Prior to COVID-19, downtown Seattle was home to 55% of the jobs in Seattle, and generated 52% of the business taxes paid to the City.

In our op-ed, “Seven must-dos for downtown’s Seattle’s recovery,” Jon and I write about the importance of “a focused, urgent, determined strategy and partnership between the public, private and nonprofit sectors.” As we see it, that strategy must include:

  • An immediate plan to address chronic homelessness in downtown
  • A commitment to creating a safe and welcoming downtown for all
  • A safe, healthy and robust transit system
  • A commitment to make downtown Seattle the easiest place in the region for entrepreneurs and innovators to open a new business and fill vacant storefronts, particularly for marginalized communities
  • Completion of major infrastructure projects critical to downtown mobility, quality of life of and economic competitiveness
  • An events and public space activation strategy
  • A broad-based marketing and communications campaign
None of these are optional. Every one of these things matters to making downtown Seattle a place where people choose to live, work, recreate and visit, all of which contributes to a stronger regional economy.

This week’s encouraging news about vaccine availability offers some welcome hope about when we will be able to see more of our family, friends and colleagues, as well as get back to activities that we’ve had to put on hold for a year – whether that is attending a live performance or going to a sporting event. But with that comes responsibility for all of our leaders, myself included, to make sure we doing everything we can so that as the pandemic recedes, we have all the conditions in place for a robust and inclusive recovery.

To that end, the Chamber continues to advocate for policies and programs at the state and federal levels that support relief and recovery, in addition to our continued work to provide you with resources, such our program to sponsor CPA assistance for businesses with fewer than 100 employees who are applying for the Paycheck Protection Program or the Employee Retention Tax Credit. We are also a proud partner on community efforts to increase vaccine availability, such as the pop-up clinic at Evergreen High School in White Center, which began last week and vaccinated 900 people over two days.

Thank you for your continued engagement with us; we need it more than ever.