It goes without saying that Paul Allen and Bill Gates had an enormous impact on Seattle. But their influence on the region goes beyond Microsoft and the startup and venture capital ecosystems that stemmed from the software giant. The two founders have also used their fortunes and influence to foster a vibrant philanthropic atmosphere in the Pacific Northwest.
A New York Times article this weekend detailed the impact Gates and Allen (and the Gates Foundation and Allen Institute, respectively) have had in Seattle.
A study sponsored last year by the Washington Global Health Alliance said that global health — a mix of research, logistics and manufacturing — now accounts for more than 12,000 jobs in Washington state and nearly $6 billion in economic activity. And from 2009 to 2013, the recession barely made a dent, the report said, as the number of jobs in that category grew almost four times faster than in the state as a whole. At Cascade Designs, company officials said that global health products could account for 10 percent of sales within the next five years.
In addition, there are growing networks of second-generation, nonprofit leaders who were schooled at the Gates Foundation or Allen Institute, and have now filtered out to form a kind of self-reinforcing army. Seattle is first in the nation in private foundation revenue per capita, according to the Urban Institute, with two and a half times the amount of the No. 2 city, San Francisco, where philanthropic technology wealth has also soared.
The article explores the success of organizations like PATH, World Vision, and Cascade Designs, all of which owe some of their good fortune to the philanthropic vision of Gates and Allen.
Allen says South Lake Union, a Seattle neighborhood that has become a lightning rod as the city grapples with its growing pains, ‘breeds serendipity’ for the non-profit innovators located there.
In addition to Amazon and soon Google, South Lake Union is also home to the Allen Institute, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, and the Center for Infectious Disease Research.
“The neighborhood already had a long history of innovation,” Allen told the New York Times. “In the early 20th century, Bill Boeing tested seaplanes off the lake, and Henry Ford built a Model T assembly line there. Today what we’re doing in South Lake Union is taking on some of the challenges of the 21st century.”
The full article is available here: “For Some Top Nonprofits, Changing the World Begins in Seattle“