Why You Should Bet on Seattle in 2024

Dec 26, 2023

IBA, as the premier business brokerage firm in the Pacific Northwest, is firmly established as a respected professional service firm in the legal, accounting, banking, mergers & acquisitions, real estate, and financial planning communities.  Periodically, we will post guest blogs from professionals with knowledge to share for the good of owners of privately held companies & family-owned businesses. The following blog article has been provided by Sally Bergesen. Ms. Bergesen is a business broker at IBA (www.ibainc.com):

Why You Should Bet on Seattle in 2024

In 1873, the city of Seattle was devastated. After many years of wining, dining, and wooing the Northern Pacific Railroad executives in the hopes of having them choose Seattle, the company selected Tacoma as the terminus for its transcontinental line that would link the Great Lakes to the Puget Sound.

For Seattle Mayor Henry Yesler and city leadership, it was a heavy blow. The city felt betrayed, the economic livelihood dimmed, and many wondered if Seattle had a future at all.

But then something unexpected happened. Very gradually, and then with force, Seattleites rejected the rejection — and decided that if the railroad company wasn’t going to build a train line to Seattle, the city was going to build it itself. On May 1, 1874, hundreds of citizens of all classes headed to Steele’s Landing on the Duwamish River to start laying tracks.

This event was credited for creating the term “Seattle Spirit” — a mix of pride, determination, and unwavering faith in the future of our city.

Exactly 150 years later, in the long shadow of a global pandemic, our city is once again forced to dig deep and find out what it’s made of. Is it a city that’s willing to accept failure or a dimmed future? Or one that has indomitable creativity and endurance?

Here on the eve of 2024, the reality is that while we have very big challenges — growth IS all around us. Like spring shoots that will bloom in future seasons, there are major players, in both the private and public sectors, making big bets on the Puget Sound region. In turn, entrepreneurs continue to invent, grow, build, and create employment for those who live here.

Here are just a few of the exciting plans and investments that are totally reshaping Seattle — and proof points as to why you should bet big on Seattle in 2024!

A Totally Revamped Waterfront Park

Our waterfront is a jewel that’s finally getting its shine. The City of Seattle, plus a team of dedicated philanthropists (including Mackenzie Bezos, Melinda Gates, and others) are going all in on downtown Seattle, revitalizing one of its most iconic landmarks — the waterfront with breathtaking views of the Puget Sound. The revamped Waterfront Park, with an investment total of roughly $42B, will be a testament to Seattle’s dedication, and will finally tie together what has been a disjointed space. Taking inspiration from other park transformations, such as the award-winning High Line Park in NYC, Seattle’s new Waterfront Park will create more walkways, more park spaces, and a more cohesive experience for residents and visitors alike.

Downtown Seattle and Pioneer Square on the Rise

The Downtown Seattle Association maintains a Recovery Dashboard that includes all of the latest metrics on downtown and its return to life. The most recent report shows that October 2023 was the 2nd highest month since the pandemic in terms of the level of office workers, and hotels were booked at 97% of 2019. According to the Seattle Times, Businesses are Betting Big on Downtown, including international players such as Uniqlo, and “In 2023, Pioneer Square saw more than 30 business openings, ranging from bars and restaurants to art galleries and curated retail. New leases continue to be signed, and we’ll welcome a Molly Moon’s ice cream shop to the Washington Street Boat Landing in 2024.” Don’t Give Up on Pioneer Square, the Heartbeat of Seattle.

The New Sounders Facility in Renton

The Sounders may have wrapped their 2023 season, but their future shines bright. Seattle’s beloved MLS team has been at the forefront of soccer in the Pacific Northwest for years. Now, with the purchase of property from Boeing in Renton, they’re raising the bar again, with the new Sounders FC at Longacres Project. In addition to top-notch training facilities, and a strong commitment to the local Renton community including a potential concert venue, the team is setting the stage to make Seattle one of the host cities for the largest sporting event in the world: FIFA World Cup 2026.

Prosperous and Walkable Neighborhoods

According to research, an impressive 99% of Seattle residents can walk to a park within 15 minutes and 97% can walk to a downtown bus in that time, according to 2020 census data. Restaurants are within range for 91% and coffee shops for 90% of the population. In fact, much of the city’s investments have been around growing our unique “urban villages” that include shops, restaurants, schools, transportation, and city parks.

At IBA, we see the interest from buyers in purchasing businesses in our region accelerating. From retail and hospitality to manufacturing and professional services, all kinds of buyers (individuals, investment groups, private equity, etc.) want to invest in the small to medium-sized businesses that make up 95% of our employment. Read more about What it Takes to Be a Buyer in 2024.

A Rebuilt and Expanded Convention Center

A thriving city needs spaces that can accommodate the influx of people and events, and Seattle is ahead of the curve in this regard. The newly rebuilt and expanded convention center is a testament to Seattle’s vision for growth and innovation. The reclaimed wood that’s used throughout communicates a distinct PNW vibe, while hundreds of thousands of square feet of meeting and event space have already been driving a return of conferences and industry events.

Aerospace, Maritime, and Green Technology Innovation

Our tech businesses get a lot of press, and justifiably. Microsoft and Amazon account for tens of thousands of jobs in the region. But our heritage of manufacturing innovation goes deeper. Those trains of the 1800s gave way to an aerospace company called Boeing, which was instrumental in winning world wars, as well as defining modern air travel. Similarly, our ports set sail to maritime innovation, and today — we’re making a new leap into green technology. From electronic batteries, such as Group 14 which has raised $600 million in funding, to solar and wind energy, the Seattle area is leading once again.

In the face of devastation in 1874 — we pulled together and laid down tracks. 150 years later, it’s time to do it again; to show the world that we continue to be an engine of creativity, persistence, and solidarity—a very Spirited Seattle.

If you have questions relating to the content of this article or the process associated with selling a privately held company or family business in Seattle, Sally Bergesen would welcome the opportunity to talk with you.  Ms. Bergesen can be reached at (425) 454-3052 or sally@ibainc.com.

IBA, the Pacific Northwest’s premier business brokerage firm since 1975, is available as an information resource to the media, business brokerage, mergers & acquisitions, real estate, accounting, legal, and financial planning communities on subjects relevant to the purchase & sale of privately held companies and family-owned businesses.  IBA is recognized as one of the best business brokerage firms in the nation based on its long track record of successfully negotiating “win-win” business sale transactions in environments of full disclosure employing “best practices”.