President of the Economic Development Council of Seattle and King County
Jeff Marcell has been a leader for economic development not only for the city of Seattle and King County, but also for economic developers throughout the state. I have known him for 10 years and though I am disappointed to see him leave the ADO network, I am grateful that he will still be an asset for the Northwest. TIP Strategies is an outstanding consulting firm (disclosure: The founder of TIPs, Jon Roberts, is responsible for hiring me in 1991 at Commerce, formerly known as the Department of Trade and Economic Development. If you have a problem with me, blame him). I am sure with Jeff’s guidance, TIPs will be a welcome asset to the Northwest and will certainly raise the intellectual conversation for sustainable economic development. In addition to his leadership skills, Jeff has also become a voice for wisdom and integrity in this profession. The following is an excerpt of an interview with Jeff that I conducted before he leaves his position. For the entire interview, click here.
What are some of the biggest changes in Washington State that you have seen in the profession over the last five years?
I think the biggest change I have seen in the last five years is the rush of new attention and eager engagement in the world of economic development. The last five years have been incredibly volatile here in Washington State and have been some of the most challenging—and most important—for the field of economic development. However, with that kind of attention new players rushed in to tackle the problem with well-intended enthusiasm but without a sense of or appreciation for the economic development profession, and often times without any foresight or investigation into the work that was already underway.
The three most important things that we should do to maximize our potential and take advantage of the new found attention on economic development are:
- Educate everyone about what work is being done and the success of those efforts
- Coordinate all efforts across the state to leverage each other’s expertise and assets
- Collaborate at every opportunity—no organization will ever have enough resources to adequately fulfill all of their ambitions, but by working together we have a better shot at meeting our potential
What one lesson would you leave your colleagues in economic development to help them be successful?
As economic developers it is critical that we stay on top of and ahead of emerging trends, new technologies, value-added processes, and more because each of us knows there will always be less expensive places to do business around the world. But in my mind, what trumps all of that, is understanding that businesses spend their time targeting revenue growth. If you can focus your interactions on that side of the balance sheet instead of leading with the conversation about jobs (the expense side), you will begin speaking the language of job creators and ultimately, economic success—including jobs—will follow.
Tell us what you will be doing in your new job.
I will be establishing the firm’s West Coast office in the Seattle area and be responsible for identifying new business opportunities and clients, and leading projects up and down the West Coast. One of the most compelling reasons for my joining TIP was our shared philosophy. That philosophy is all about “Talent, Innovation and Place,” and each one of their recommendations focuses not just on company recruitment, but also on talent retention and recruitment, workforce development, and the quality of life factors that make communities attractive to new employers and employees.
In closing I do want to say how much I have enjoyed and benefited from working in the Pacific Northwest. I want to thank all of the economic development professionals that that I have had the good fortune of collaborating with.
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