Editor's Note: A Reason for Optimism

Donald Trump notwithstanding, 2017 in Seattle may be brighter than anticipated.
| FROM THE PRINT EDITION |
 
 
 
It’s easy to be pessimistic about the outlook for 2017. After 90 months of growth, the economic expansion is aging and may not have much life left. Interest rates, which have fallen pretty steadily over the past 35 years, seem headed up again. If they reach anywhere near their 100-year average of 5 percent, that could choke off growth. And global trade, which has been on a growth path for 70 years, benefiting our technology, manufacturing and agriculture exports, could hit a wall if President-elect Donald Trump follows through on threats to slap tariffs on partners, triggering a trade war. 
 
But 2017 could well be far more prosperous than we have any right to expect. While Trump may be bad news on issues of immigration and inequality, it’s hard to argue that his plans to slash taxes on business, encourage local manufacturing and raise infrastructure spending won’t be good for business in this region. Michael Butler, CEO of Cascadia Capital, who has done a booming business representing entrepreneurs who want to sell their companies, says some clients are now putting off plans to sell their firms, believing the economic outlook is now much brighter.
 
Even if Trump’s pro-business policies don’t come to pass, there is a strong argument to be made that the Seattle region will continue to prosper. When it comes to new infrastructure spending, for example, our region has enough projects in the pipeline to keep workers busy for years, including tens of billions of dollars in new Sound Transit spending, the remodeling of Sea-Tac Airport, the convention center addition and the Manhattanization of downtown Seattle.
 
And the number of new jobs posted continues to rise, driven by strong growth among the region’s ever-expanding tech sector. “We don’t fully appreciate the number of jobs, people and households that will be added over this next cycle,” says Peter Orser, director of the UW’s Runstad Center for Real Estate Studies. Despite an unprecedented building boom during the past five years, Orser says the region has failed to keep up with housing demand, adding just a fourth the number of residential units needed to house the new residents moving into the area.
 
Just five years ago, few institutional and international investors paid much attention to Seattle. “Today, we are their darling,” says Orser. The inflow of new money and young talent is “fueling investment in development, the UW, buildings and new ideas at a scale that is exponentially greater than five years ago.”
 
While there will be cyclical corrections as we overbuild, Orser says it would take “a major event” to knock the regional economy off its trajectory of rapid growth. “I don’t see job creation slowing,” he says. “I see a shortage of labor, land, investment dollars and housing. The breadth and depth of the economy is radically different [from five years ago].” 
 
Matt McIlwain, managing director at Madrona Venture Group, agrees, pointing to Seattle’s strength in rapidly growing technology sectors like cloud computing, virtual reality and “intelligent applications” that incorporate the power of big data, the cloud and artificial intelligence.  
 
More needs to be done to retrain local residents for the jobs being created, build affordable housing and improve transportation infrastructure. But if Orser and McIlwain are right, our economy will continue to be strong enough to expand financing for such activities. 
 
LESLIE HELM is executive editor of Seattle Business magazine. Reach him at leslie.helm@tigeroak.com
 

Final Analysis: Would You Go to Work for Donald Trump?

Final Analysis: Would You Go to Work for Donald Trump?

Or would you rather end up on his enemies list?
 
 

Imagine getting a call inviting you to work for your country.

Now imagine your new boss is Donald J. Trump.

Would you move to Washington, D.C., to work for the president of the United States? For this president of the United States?

From what we know through simple observation, Donald Trump suffers from chronic narcissism, he doesn’t read much, he rarely smiles, he has a vindictive streak, he treats women badly, he has the argumentative skills of a bruised tangerine, he fears foreigners almost as much as he fears the truth and he spends his waking hours attached to marionette strings being manipulated by Steve “I Shave on Alternate Thursdays” Bannon.

Sure, you’ve probably suffered under bad bosses. But this guy takes the plagiarized inauguration cake. He thinks it’s OK to assault women. He made fun of a journalist’s disability. He said a judge couldn’t be impartial because of his ethnic heritage. He doesn’t pay people who have done work for him. He has been a plaintiff in nearly 2,000 lawsuits.

We have to assume that Sally Yates, the acting attorney general who got herself fired in January for standing up to President Trump’s ban on accepting immigrants from predominantly Muslim countries, has probably updated her résumé by now. No doubt she proudly included a mention that she torched the president whose approval rating after one week in office had dropped faster than it had for anchovy-swirl ice cream.

If I worked for Trump, it would most likely be a challenging assignment. I try to be gracious and diplomatic with supervisors and coworkers, but I draw the line with people who lie to me. Or lie to others and put me in an awkward position. With them, I’m not so gracious, and I don’t hold my tongue. Which would probably get me early induction into the Sally Yates Hall of Flame.

Or maybe on the president’s enemies list. None other than Trump’s reality-TV pal, Omarosa Manigault, has revealed that the president possesses a long memory — longer, even, than his neckties — and that his people are “keeping a list” of those who don’t like him.

I know I should give my president the benefit of the doubt, but I’m happy to make an exception in this case. I don’t like Donald Trump. And I would be honored to be on his enemies list. Not since I played pickup baseball in grade school have I had such an urge to scream, “Pick me! Pick me!” Being added to a Presidential Enemies List would be such a treat, a career topper, really. Better than submitting to a colonoscopy without anesthesia. Or watching reruns of Celebrity Apprentice. Without anesthesia.

If selected, I would pledge to save my best words for the president and I would only use them in the bigliest way.

Of course, making the enemies list means I might never get the call to join the new administration. I might never get to engage in locker-room banter with POTUS. I might never get to untangle the marionette strings. I might never get to buy razors for Steve Bannon.

It is a sobering realization. But we must serve where we are best suited.

John Levesque is the managing editor of Seattle Business magazine. Reach him at john.levesque@tigeroak.com.