Economic Recovery in King County
King County’s Economic Recovery Priorities
The COVID-19 pandemic has left large portions of our regional economy and workers devastated, compounding existing inequities that our most vulnerable communities have faced for decades. The artists, filmmakers, musicians, union crews, and content creators who help make this region culturally vibrant and economically strong are suffering. Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC communities), women, and individuals with no formal higher education have been disproportionately impacted. This economic fallout will have a long-lasting effect on our region for years to come.
Revive and Thrive: Our Vision
Executive Constantine is committed to helping our local businesses and regional workforce recover from the simultaneous public health, economic, and social justice crises. King County government's regional economic and workforce development plan relies on collaboration throughout the county. This includes King County leadership, regional agencies, business and industry organizations, labor unions, and community stakeholders.
King County also recognizes the need and urgency for more direct investments in BIPOC communities to improve economic opportunity and wellbeing. Effective community engagement will ensure that the "Fair and Just" principle remains central in this critical economic development and recovery work.
Despite the devastating effects of the pandemic, we are seeing once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to rebuild our region with a renewed commitment to inclusive economic opportunity. Together we will rebuild a regional economy that is equitable, sustainable, and committed to anti-racism.
COVID Response and Recovery
King County has prioritized COVID response and recovery throughout the pandemic. Executive Constantine and the King County Council have worked together to approve eight rounds of emergency supplemental budgets, in response to the COVID pandemic. These supplemental emergency budgets include dedicated funds for a variety of economic recovery efforts, including support for small businesses, the creative sector, and those most impacted by COVID. These funds will help small businesses across the region resume operations, hire and retain employees, implement public health protocols, and offer new apprenticeship and job training programs.
What We're Working On
On April 3, 2021, King County Executive Dow Constantine unveiled Harbor Island Studios. This newly renovated warehouse, previously underutilized, has been adapted into a film production facility. Several hundred film professionals in union wage jobs were hired for the studio’s first production. Currently, Harbor Island Studios is closed for further improvements, and will reopen in early 2022.
Owned by King County, this studio will continue to provide a facility for local, living-wage jobs in the film industry. Fifteen film professionals serve on the Executive’s Film Advisory Board, offering their insights and experience to inform the development of this much needed addition to our film industry infrastructure.
Responding to the needs of independent live music venue owners, musicians, public health officials and communications strategists, REVS is a platform and network of 18 music cities across the country, designed to convene and respond to the fluctuating pandemic policies and concerns affecting their respective live music ecosystems. The Seattle/King County REVS chapter has been deeply engaged in this work for 18 months, as the pandemic impacts to our live music ecosystem have been extreme.
As part of our COVID recovery plan, Executive Constantine and the King County Council have allocated funding to put our cultural and creative workers back to work, and help the creative sector, hit especially hard by the pandemic, open their doors and get back in business.
As part of this creative sector recovery strategy, King County has allocated $34.4 million in federal ARPA funding for arts and culture organizations, festival and event producers, independent live music venues, independent movie theaters, and science organizations, and Harbor Island Studios development. A portion of this funding ($9.4 million) is being administered by 4Culture.
For updates on recovery funding for the creative sector please visit https://kingcountycreative.com/
In partnership with the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, we are growing the regional economy by helping our most vulnerable businesses across the County survive, recover, and thrive. Resources are being invested to support a collaborative, sub-regional business retention-expansion plan. Executive Constantine and the King County Council have allocated funding to help businesses disproportionately impacted by the pandemic to open their doors and get back in business.
Our regional workforce development strategy is led by the Workforce Development Council of King County. Executive Constantine serves as one of two Chief Local Elected Officials on this board, which strives to expand career pathways for adults and youth through demand-driven workforce and training programs. The Board of Directors recently set a new vision for our workforce development system to support an equity-centered and industry-driven approach. This vision centers racial justice and seeks to address other inequities that prevent economic opportunity and inclusion in our region.
The first of its kind public-private regional economic development partnership, King County is working with Greater Seattle Partners to drive international and domestic investment and quality jobs into the region to create and sustain opportunity and prosperity for all. King County is a founding investor and Executive Constantine serves on the board and Executive Council.
Convened by Executive Constantine over a decade ago, the King County Aerospace Alliance unites local jurisdictions, public sector groups, business and labor toward one goal—fostering the long-term economic vitality, growth and global competitiveness of the local aerospace industry—a major and indispensable source of family-wage jobs in King County. Learn more here.
Launched in 2014, the Executive's Local Food Initiative is expanding the local food economy to ensure job growth and economic viability for King County food businesses and farms. The initiative is focused on improving access to healthy, affordable food in low-income communities.
Who is leading these efforts?
Economic Recovery Directors Ashton Allison and Kate Becker have been appointed by Executive Dow Constantine to lead our region’s recovery from the severe impacts COVID-19 has had on our region’s small businesses and workforce.
Kate Becker is creative economy and recovery director in King County Executive Dow Constantine’s Office. Building sustainable creative communities has been at the core of Kate’s career. Kate currently spends her days (and nights!) working to build King County's creative economy, keenly focused on the film, music, and events industries.
Prior to joining Executive Constantine’s Office, Kate served as the Director of the City of Seattle Office of Film + Music. She has also served in leadership roles at Seattle Theatre Group, Art Share LA in Los Angeles, and The New Art Center in Boston, MA. She co-founded legendary Northwest all-ages venues The Vera Project and the Old Fire House, talent pipelines for the music industry.
Kate has produced more than 1,000 all ages shows and numerous large-scale events and fundraisers. She also founded the Old Fire House Media Lab, ensuring that emerging filmmakers and musicians have access to studio space. She loves startup culture and founded two small businesses and two nonprofits. Kate was a charter member of the Seattle Music Commission and serves on the board of Music Policy Forum and NFFTY (National Film Festival for Talented Youth).
Ashton Allison is economic development and economic recovery director at King County Executive Dow Constantine's Office. Ashton brings over 18 years of diverse economic development experience in the private, public, and nonprofit sectors. He is also a Certified Economic Developer through the International Economic Development Council and pursuing his Economic Development Certificate at the Harvard Kennedy School.
Ashton’s most recent role was as the director of business retention and expansion at the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce (Chamber). Ashton was responsible for leading the King County Associate Development Organization (ADO) and working with private and public sector partners to conduct effective business outreach, assistance - and most recently, the COVID-19 emergency response.
Prior to his time at the Chamber, Ashton served as a consultant with TIP Strategies, an economic development consulting firm. He managed strategic planning projects across the US, including several projects in Washington State. Ashton's background also includes previous positions as a public sector economic development practitioner, nonprofit entrepreneur support organization director, and marketing agency account manager.