What is the People’s Economy Project?

What would Seattle’s economy look like if we put people and place at the center?

People Economy's ProjectFor the last nine months, Ventures Executive Director Beto Yarce, has been working with local leaders to answer this question as part of the Local Leaders Lab. On June 5th, the Local Leaders Lab presented their values-based framework to local economy advocates, advisors, civic leaders, and candidates at the People’s Economy Project event at the Impact Hub Seattle. These community leaders discussed how to use the framework to overcome inequalities in Seattle’s current economy and create a more equitable, democratic, diverse, and resilient economy.

The Problem

Seattle’s economic prosperity is not shared by all of the city’s residents.  Some of our neighborhoods are experiencing the benefits of the current economic boom while others are being destabilized and displaced by this growth. Wages are not keeping up with the rising cost of living. Income and wealth disparity are at record highs. Those at the most vulnerable end of the economic spectrum are disproportionately people of color, immigrants, and other marginalized communities. 

The Solution 

To address these challenges, the Local Leaders Lab drafted ten initiatives to create a local economy that works for everyone. The initiatives are:

  1. Build Minority Business Accelerators 
  2. Directly Fund Local Business 
  3. Create a Community Development Authority 
  4. Use Anchor Power 
  5. Support Community Benefits Commissions 
  6. Harness the Silver Tsunami of Local Businesses 
  7. Establish a Community Loan Fund 
  8. Create a Good Business Certification 
  9. Support Direct Investment in Real Estate Projects
  10. Expand the Commercial Tenant Ownership Model 

The Good News 

Ventures is already working on initiative 1 and the enthusiasm generated by the Leaders Lab will help us generate support for our work.  The Leaders Lab would like to work toward initiative 1 by tripling the number of minority-owned businesses in the Seattle area.  Ventures is furthering this goal by offering access to culturally appropriate training, market development, capital, mentoring, and support. 

The Local Economy Leaders Lab represents a diverse group of influences in the economic development sector.  Members include: 

Shevanthi Daniel-Rabkin and Tim Palmer, Democracy at Work Institute; Sam Farrazaino, Equinox Studios; Christine Hanna and Erin Nelson, Seattle Good Business Network; Jill Mangaliman and Mo! Avery, Got Green; Rachel Maxwell, Community Sourced Capital; Kristin Pula and Sarah Valenta, HomeSight; Ryan Quigtar, Skyway Solutions; Patrice Thomas, Rainier Beach Action Coalition; Debbie Wege, BECU; Beto Yarce, Ventures