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Greg Beams, a partner at EY and head of the Entrepreneur of the Year program in the Pacific Northwest, speaking at the 2016 Entrepreneur of the Year awards. (GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota)

The tech boom is powering the Seattle region’s economy, with thousands of people moving to the area to work for companies large and small, and the unemployment rate continues to drop to new lows.

But the underlying fuel for many of these companies is funding, in the form of venture capital and other forms of investment. And that’s where the trends get really interesting.

In 2015, more than $1.5 billion in venture capital was invested in companies in Washington state, but that number dipped to $1.2 billion in 2016, according to Greg Beams, a partner at the global professional services firm EY and the head of the Entrepreneur of the Year program in the Pacific Northwest. That decline was largely due to a “pause” in investing in the first six months of 2016, Beams explains, with about 48 companies getting venture capital in the first half of the year, compared to about 75 companies in the second half of the year.

“Last year was almost a tale of two cities — the first six months of 2016 vs. the last six months of 2016,” Beams says.

We dig into the underlying trends with Beams on this episode of the GeekWire podcast, and talk about the outlook for the upcoming year, including his’ thoughts on the prospects for the tech IPO market this year.  We discuss trends such as virtual reality, and take a look at some of the numbers behind the incredible tech boom happening in the Seattle region.

In addition, Beams shares his insights on what makes a great entrepreneur, from his experience overseeing the Entrepreneur of the Year program. (As noted on the show, EY is a GeekWire sponsor, and I’m serving as a judge for the competition this year.)

Listen to the full podcast above or download it as an MP3. You can also subscribe to the show on iTunes, Soundcloud, or wherever you listen to podcasts. 

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