Suburban Astronomy 101

This is a guest post by Jeff Marcell, senior partner with TIP Strategies, Inc.

Some 725,000 people live in the City of Seattle. As impressive as that number sounds, it is dwarfed by the fact that Seattle’s metropolitan area, as defined by the US Census Bureau, includes a whopping 3.9 million residents. You can do the math. There are roughly 3.2 million people—myself included—who live in Seattle’s orbit but not technically in Seattle itself. That makes me a suburbanite. If you’re reading this, the odds are high that you may be a suburban dweller too.

Seattle is my region’s brand, even though four out of five of us in the metropolitan area live in one of its many suburbs. As my colleague, Councilmember John Holman of Auburn, Washington, pointed out in this publication a few weeks ago, Seattle’s suburbs “feel the gravitational pull of the large urban core city we surround. Sort of like moons orbiting a planet. Moons orbit the central globe, but in return they contribute to, and influence, what happens on the core planet.”

And John should know. He chairs NLC’s First Tier Suburbs Council. Like John, every elected official in America’s suburbs understands that, to some extent, the central city’s brand is intertwined with their own suburban municipality’s identity. The balance of that relationship means that managing and governing suburban areas can be challenging at times.

Prospective employers, investors, residents, and tourists from outside the region first perceive the metropolitan area through the lens of the central city. While the outsider’s perspective may be instructive, it can also feel elusive. That’s why my firm, TIP Strategies, is proud to partner with the National League of Cities to pioneer a first-of-its-kind approach to suburban planning.

The Economic Development Pilot Program of NLC’s First Tier Suburbs Council is a competitive program to which any suburban municipality can apply. The winner will be formally announced in March 2019. The demonstration project that follows will carry four key benefits for the winner.

  1. The project will kick off with a contextual data analysis of the winning suburb’s competitive metropolitan position. This analysis will feature TIP Strategies’ signature data visualizations and may spotlight a relevant or vexing strategic challenge identified by the winning suburb. This might be a topic such as workforce development, transportation, affordable housing, or regional marketing.
  2. A full-day event will convene elected leaders, government officials, and stakeholders from the private sector, education, and philanthropy to discuss collaborative approaches to economic development. The day will start with a presentation by TIP Strategies to unveil the analytical findings. Through the remainder of the event, engagement techniques will be used to capture participant insights.
  3. All materials from the summit, including the data analysis, will be compiled into a publication-quality summary report and presented to the winning suburb. The document will be organized in a best practices format, so others can learn from the pilot community. The results are intended to serve as a learning model for other NLC members and will become part of a clearinghouse of strategies for dealing with the biggest obstacles to long-term regional economic success.
  4. Best Practices.The selected suburb may be featured as a model on NLC website, blog, and the stage of NLC’s City Summit 2019.

Interested? The application window remains open through the end of January 2019. We encourage you to apply. Learn more about the pilot program here.

jeff About the author: As a senior partner with TIP Strategies, Inc., Jeff Marcell leads high-profile consulting engagements with cities, counties, regions, and states in preparing economic and workforce development strategies. Recent engagements have included work for, or on behalf of, the State of Delaware, the State of Washington, the Minneapolis-Saint Paul region, the Northwest Indiana region, the Saginaw Michigan region, the City of Detroit, the City of Corning (New York), Newport County (Rhode Island), and many others.

Before joining TIP, Jeff served as president and CEO of the Economic Development Council of Seattle and King County. Under his leadership, the Seattle EDC was recognized by the International Economic Development Council as the Best Practice Category Winner for programs in Technology-Led Economic Development and Sustainable and Green Development. Other recognition has included the Outstanding Board Service Award from the Seattle-King County Workforce Development Council (2012), the MacArthur Award for Leadership from the Washington State Department of Commerce (2013), and the Distinguished Service Award from the Washington State Economic Development Association (2015).

Jeff has a Juris Doctorate from South Texas College of Law, a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of Illinois at Chicago, and Certificates in Real Estate Development and Nonprofit Management from the University of Washington.