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Photo via Kevin Lisota
Photo via Kevin Lisota

The National League of Cities today released a report highlighting 12 cities around the nation that have implemented unique strategies to help support startups and small businesses.

The report features Seattle’s Business Retention and Expansion Program (BREP), which was launched in 2009 by the Office of Economic Development and helps 500 businesses per year with startup advice and resources. The service has visited more than 1,500 companies over the past three-and-a-half years, with 69 percent of visits resulting in some type of action.

The relationship between startups and city government is a unique one, and it’s something that Seattle Mayor Ed Murray discussed with us back in February. Murray, who took office in January, said he wants to put more money into the Startup Seattle initiative — a program launched by former Mayor Mike McGinn as a way to keep more companies around town by acting as a concierge service for startups that need resources.

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray.
Seattle Mayor Ed Murray.

Funding for that initiative was actually nearly slashed this past November after some City Council members voiced concern for “preferential treatment for startups,” and the fact that there were “no metrics attached to the project.” However, the City Council voted to move forward with the program after a budget amendment failed to gain majority approval.

Murray said he’s in full support of helping Seattle become the premier city to incubate startups.

“We’re going to beef it up,” he said of the Startup Seattle program.

Still, Murray admitted that the initiative, which initially started as a private project in spring of 2011, is “an idea without a fully fleshed out program at this point.”

“To satisfy the Council, and rightfully so, we have to actually show how this program is going to work,” Murray said.

Murray added that city government can also help startups through a variety of avenues — offering up shared office space or providing technical and business support are a few examples he gave.

“We have an incredible wealth of resources here,” Murray said in February. “People start out at Microsoft or Amazon or another major corporation and at some point spin off and do their own startup. We want to keep those people here. We want them to be able to see, if they leave one of those companies, that this is a place to do business — not San Francisco and Silicon Valley or some other place.”

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