Seattle Seeks to Stir Up More Startups With New McGinn Initiative

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is focus on policies and initiatives that are friendly to startups, remove administrative barriers, and shine a bright light on the great things going on in the startup community,” Feld wrote.

Startup Seattle is set up to check at least some of those boxes through the city liaison position, promotional campaign, and Web site.

(In an e-mail, Feld says he hasn’t focused on Seattle’s initiative. He’s withholding judgment on this “new phase” of government efforts, “looking carefully to see what works and what doesn’t.”)

DeVore says startup communities—made up of nose-to-the-grindstone entrepreneurs trying to make their small companies succeed—“don’t naturally federate their work or their storytelling.” There’s a need for a non-partisan, non-commercial entity to do that. Media can do it to a certain extent, he says, but media has its own incentives and objectives.

“To have a commitment on a part of the city to do that—again, no matter what city you’re in—it allows the community to speak with a crisper voice than it would normally because it is so fragmented and so under-resourced,” DeVore says.

In the blog, Feld also points to the “entrepreneurial density” of successful startup communities, even within large cities: Union Square in New York, Kendall Square in Cambridge, for example. “These are ‘startup neighborhoods’ that roll up into a startup community,” Feld says. “This concentration of entrepreneurial activity—or entrepreneurial density—is critical.”


Seattle has Pioneer Square, South Lake Union, and Fremont—neighborhoods the city intends to continue supporting as “startup hubs” through Startup Seattle. It is also focusing on the University District as an emerging hub, one already equipped with the entrepreneurial assets of the University of Washington, and set for a transformation thanks to the arrival of light rail, which will better connect it to the city’s other startup centers.

DeVore says the biggest potential benefit of Startup Seattle could come from strengthening the connection between the startup community and a broader network of economic development activities.

“It has the ability to federate and participate in this much larger, bigger dollar, longer-lead-time efforts, and to me that’s what’s most exciting about it,” he says.


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Benjamin Romano is editor of Xconomy Seattle. Email him at bromano [at] Follow @bromano

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