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Infrastructure Problems Cause Seattle To Drop A Notch In Global Competitiveness Ranking

Elaine Thompson
In this May 31, 2012 photo, a bicyclist peddles on a bike lane around a "bus island" and away from a lane of traffic during the morning rush hour in Seattle.

Cities around the globe are competing for jobs, and especially good, middle-class jobs. A new study says Seattle has fallen a bit behind some other cities, in part, because of problems with infrastructure.

The study compares Seattle with cities around the world that are a similar size and type of economy – for example, San Francisco, Singapore, Boston, Amsterdam.

Boston Consulting Group did the initial report in 2013 for the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce. Back then, Seattle ranked fifth. In this revised report, Seattle dropped a notch – after being overtaken by Stockholm.

John Wenstrup heads the Seattle office of Boston Consulting Group. He says Seattle ranks near the bottom among the nine cities he analyzed in terms of utilization of public transportation, walkability and bikeability.

”You take places like Stockholm, where the numbers are upwards of 75 percent of people who don’t use a car at all for commuting, the bar is incredibly, incredibly high on a global scale, but we even lag places like Vancouver and San Francisco, who have terrible, terrible infrastructure,” said Wenstrup.

Singapore ranked number one in the study. Wenstrup says the transportation package approved by the legislature this year should help Seattle in the future to attract businesses and good jobs. But he says the city still needs to improve its schools to make ensure it has a local workforce with the skills to fill those positions.

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.
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