Moving The Emerald City Forward: Key Insights on Seattle’s Future

“Seattle’s best chapter is the next chapter” – this was one of the lines that resonated deeply as I sat amongst thousands of folks to hear from the Visit Seattle team during its Annual Meeting. Seattle is certainly on the verge of major changes, and local business leaders, public officials, service industry professionals, residents, and tourists should all be excited for what’s next.  

The Visit Seattle event came right on the heels of another major summit, gathering an equally large and dynamic crowd – The State of Downtown, put on by the Downtown Seattle Association. Both events shone a light on the tremendous progress the city has made in pulling through an understandably difficult period during the pandemic. While there was also a healthy dose of caution, top professionals at both Visit Seattle and the Downtown Seattle Association led purposeful conversations about why those living or coming to Seattle should be excited.  

What to know about where Seattle is headed: 

For Residents 

At more than 104,000, a record number of people now live in downtown Seattle, a 71% increase from 2010. With more people living within walking distance of some of Seattle’s best restaurants, landmarks, and views, you may notice sidewalks have become a bit more bustling! And with 17,000 more units being built, our city is only looking to blossom further. Additionally, living in city centers is directly tied to a lower per-person carbon footprint, so the more folks living closer-in, the better for our environment.  

For Businesses 

With more than 340,000 jobs based in downtown Seattle alone, the city has certainly been quieter than in pre-pandemic years. As organizations of all sizes navigate how, and if, to bring workers back to the offices, there are indications that folks are coming back to the city to work, which directly impacts the businesses of Seattle and the vitality of the city.  

Many businesses closed their doors during the pandemic – the boarded-up windows serving as a stark contrast to the vibrancy of pre-pandemic Seattle. However, across both events a locked-arms approach from public officials and private sector leaders illustrated that everyone is dedicated to returning Seattle not just to what it once was, but to an even more dynamic, reimagined version of what the Emerald City can and will be.   

For Visitors  

More than 9.3 million people visited Seattle in 2022, a huge uptick from 2021 and steadily pacing back to pre-pandemic numbers. From cruise ships to music festivals and yearly events such as Refract, Seattle showed off in the best way last year, reminding folks what makes Seattle such a uniquely wonderful city.  

Looking forward, Seattle is already bracing for major athletic event takeovers, including the Major League Baseball All-Start game,  the 2024 Winter Classic, an incredible outdoor hockey event, and preparations are already in place for the 2026 World Cup.  

For Development and Infrastructure  

Last year, more than $10 billion in infrastructure development took place across the city, providing better and safer highways, bridges, and new projects for residents and visitors alike. It’s hard to check out the Seattle skyline without seeing a crane, and each crane signifies forward growth.  

Looking Forward 

I am deeply encouraged by what I heard at these two events about the progress the city is making and the intentional strides it is taking to be on par with some of the greatest cities on our planet. 

As we enter Seattle’s next – and best – chapter, it’s the perfect time for all organizations, big and small, old and new, to reevaluate how to elevate their brand story. Booming times in large cities like Seattle create competition; as communication experts, we are uniquely qualified to ensure any organization is differentiating themselves by sending the right message to their target audience.