Business

5 reasons the Eastside is poised for economic growth

The Eastside (and its “capital city,” Bellevue) will be the site of explosive growth in the state in the next 20 years. There is no other geographic area in the Pacific Northwest that is going to see such rapid change.

The gloom-and-doomers will have us worry about the recession killing everything. The fact is that the Eastside business community is in good shape, and I am more optimistic than ever about our economic future.

Here are five reasons why.

1. Microsoft. Microsoft. Microsoft.

Despite all the talk about our friendly neighborhood behemoth crumbling under the pressures of renewed competition from Apple and Google, “the company” is generally doing well. Windows 7 is a super hit. Sharepoint is a world-beater. Bing has a real chance to change the search engine business. Yes, Microsoft is behind on the mobile business side, but it is way too early to count out the largest employer in Bellevue.

2. Decoupling

The geography of Bellevue will inevitably be a significant factor in how economic development plays out. I imagine a day when both bridges will have tolls on them creating significant disincentives to travel to and from Seattle. This, along with other significant non-geographical factors (e.g., preference for local consumption, greater cultural presence), will eventually lead to a decoupling of the Eastside from the Seattle economy. This will mean that companies will have offices on both sides of the lake.

3. Diversity

Bellevue is among the most diverse communities in our region — much more so than Seattle. The ethnic communities represented here (Chinese, Indian, Japanese, Russian, Romanian, Iranian, to name a few) bring a global perspective that is enriching and empowering. This is an asset that will bode well for us in the future.

4. Ethos of pragmatism

We recently had a celebration for the 270 undergraduates who graduated from our campus. I had the honor of meeting several parents. One thing became clear that day. A pragmatic ethos is deeply embedded into the DNA of Eastsiders. At the end of the day, the parents want us educators to create opportunities that will get their kids jobs in the best companies in the area. This pragmatism will guide us all in the future and allow us to make the right bets.

5. Entrepreneurship

The Eastside has the potential to be one of the biggest entrepreneurial centers in the country. The number of entrepreneurial companies that nobody has heard of is simply amazing. The companies tend to have a strong technological basis in areas such as biomedical devices, clean technology, gaming, online services and software. I expect to see several world-beater companies to come out of our area in the next decade.

Sandeep Krishnamurthy, Ph.D. is the director of the business program at UW Bothell. Reach him at SKrishnamurthy@uwb.edu or at (425) 352-5229.

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