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4 Puget Sound-Area Counties Team Up To Attract Foreign Investment Dollars

Elaine Thompson
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The Puget Sound region is a trade powerhouse, but it has lagged behind smaller cities like Portland in attracting foreign-owned businesses to set up shop here. Now King, Kitsap, Snohomish and Pierce counties are teaming up to win more foreign investment here, and China is their main target.

This is a big push by local governments, economic development groups and the state. They’ve come up with a plan in conjunction with the Brookings Institution to better market the Puget Sound region to foreign investors and companies. The goal is to entice foreign dollars into the local economy in the form of jobs and investments in big projects. Seattle Mayor Ed Murray says China is the big focus.

“San Francisco has an entire office focused simply on China. The city of Seattle doesn’t have a single employee dedicated to working on foreign investment,” Murray said.

But Murray says that’s going to change this year if the Seattle City Council approves his request to hire someone for that work. The opportunity is big, according to Kristi Heim of the Washington State China Relations Council.

“This is a moment that we won’t see again where Chinese capital is flowing out of China. Billions of dollars are seeking global markets, so it’s just a matter of where they’re going to go.,” Helm said.

The state says it is planning to open a permanent office in China to raise the profile of Washington as a business destination.

In July 2017, Ashley Gross became KNKX's youth and education reporter after years of covering the business and labor beat. She joined the station in May 2012 and previously worked five years at WBEZ in Chicago, where she reported on business and the economy. Her work telling the human side of the mortgage crisis garnered awards from the Illinois Associated Press and the Chicago Headline Club. She's also reported for the Alaska Public Radio Network in Anchorage and for Bloomberg News in San Francisco.