Seattle Culture

Editor’s Note: New Year, New Beginning

Why Seattle is the place to be

By Rob Smith January 25, 2023


This article originally appeared in the January/February 2023 issue of Seattle magazine.

Seattle is a place where things happen. As we enter a year of new beginnings, this issue packs a double punch to prove it.

There’s the magazine’s yearly list of Most Influential People, our annual spotlight on those doing inspirational, thought-provoking things to improve our communities. There’s Seattle Business magazine’s 33rd annual Best Companies To Work For, a celebration of organizations that realize an employee-centric culture gives them a competitive advantage that bolsters the bottom line.

All that’s uplifting, sure, and there’s so much to be optimistic about as we head into 2023. City boosters have long said that Seattle would recover more quickly from the pandemic than other places. It’s already playing out in all corners of our region.

Research from respected think tank Milken Institute says that the state’s technology sector is among the nation’s strongest, as is its overall economic prosperity. More than four of every 10 office buildings in Seattle are LEED certified, 10% higher than the national average. Seattle’s cruise season hit an all-time record last year, with 295 ships passing through the city, more than three times as many as in 2021. 

The city of Everett’s ambitious, 65-acre Waterfront Place development is 75% leased, with restaurants, cafés, bars and breweries scheduled to open this spring. The development, which is three times the size of Seattle’s own waterfront makeover, also features hotels, housing and office space. 

Futuristic technology is being developed and deployed here. A Seattle startup named Artly recently opened a store near Pike Place Market where robot baristas — robots with mechanical arms — make the drinks. Another startup, Picnic, uses robots that can assemble, but not cook, pizzas. Company founders told the Puget Sound Business Journal that the machine can create up to 100 pizzas per hour using a single employee. Picnic has already raised $30 million and is on the hunt for more.

Investors are taking notice. The city of Tacoma is attracting record levels of national investment, in no small part due to its growing multifamily market. The Life Science Washington Institute, in its first-ever investor report, says life sciences companies landed $5.1 billion in funding in 2021, with more than 180 investors participating in 112 deals. The Allen Institute recently announced that it is expanding into the new Dexter Yard Life Science and Technology campus, another sign that Seattle’s life sciences market is among the strongest in the country with almost 1 million square feet under construction. 

A new tower that will house the Seattle Children’s Research Institute and similar companies recently broke ground in the Denny neighborhood. Other nearby developments are happening near the Space Needle and on the north shore of Lake Union.

And let’s not forget the next generation of leaders and their fondness for local companies. Starbucks is the second-favorite restaurant in the United States among teenagers, behind only Chick-fil-A, and Amazon is the most popular e-commerce site.

And, just to prove that the region still maintains its sense of humor, there was even a New Year’s Eve festival in Des Moines called “Set Fire to 2022: Burning Boat Festival,” in which a boat full of personal, handwritten notes went up in a spectacular, fiery display.

Nothing’s perfect. Homelessness remains a major issue, as does public safety — or at least the perception of it. Inflation here is steeper than in most large cities. Several major tech companies have either laid off workers or paused hiring. Challenges remain.

That’s OK. Seattle remains a world-class city with global ambitions. As the old saying goes, “Everybody has to be somewhere.”

There’s no better place than here.

About the Editor's Note Column

Rob Smith is the editor of Seattle magazine and Seattle Business magazine. Following a brief stint in politics after graduating from the University of Oregon, he began freelance writing when a friend landed a job at a small newspaper. A few months later he was offered a full-time position and, as Mark Twain said, "I had no other options," so Rob became a journalist. He likes getting paid to be nosy.

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