Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn believes that the key to the city’s future is a “high road” in which the region focuses intently on education, innovation and infrastructure. The remarks came as McGinn touted the addition of 3,270 new jobs at a press conference held today used to highlight the Mayor’s economic development proposals.
McGinn’s remarks on innovation and entrepreneurship were especially interesting, but he also took some heat from reporters who suggested that his efforts weren’t doing enough.
“The City of Seattle and our region is never going to beat the rest of the world by competing in a race to the bottom. We can’t win that in a global economy,” he said. “And there’s another path, which is the high road. And the high road is clear. A high road means we compete on the basis of quality. We compete on the basis of innovation. And we compete on the intelligence and savvy and hard work on the people who are here.”
McGinn’s remarks addressed various aspects of the economy, from the maritime industry to software. And he stressed that innovation goes beyond the city’s strong software sector.
“One of the things when you talk about innovation, and oftentimes we think that innovation must be in ‘new economy’ things. Right? That, oh, innovation is what software companies have to do, but everyone has to innovate,” he said.
McGinn added that he still believes in the dream of entrepreneurship, one of the reasons he is proposing to make it easier for citizens to start new businesses out of their homes.
“I still believe that somebody in a garage here in Seattle can create the next big business that we will all be reading about a decade from now,” he said.
Later during the press conference, Seattle P-I reporter Joel Connelley questioned McGinn on the effectiveness of his “green jobs” program, which the news site noted last week has only created 14 jobs since its introduction.
McGinn, however, took offense to the characterization of the green jobs and energy efficiency program as a failure. And — after getting a bit testy with Connelly — he invoked his inner entrepreneur to explain what was going on.
He said that the program is just three months old, asking for patience before people declare the energy efficiency program as dead.
“This is a new industry we are creating, and it is going to take some time,” he said. “If you give up on a startup in the first three months, you are not going to see the finish line.”
“If we get it right, we are going to be leaders in this and we will start exporting that knowledge in the same way as we export airplanes and software. So, to suggest that the program is a failure because it hasn’t succeeded in the first year of a three-year program … that’s not a good business model, either.”