TIP Strategies is a privately held Austin-based economic development consulting firm committed to providing quality solutions for public and private‑sector clients.
This blog is dedicated to exploring new data and trends in economic development.
Now that TIP Strategies has a permanent presence in both Austin, Texas and Seattle, Washington we’ve been having fun comparing and contrasting the two regions. One feature the two share: momentous growth. According to two recent articles, Austin’s metro area is the “fastest growing large metro area” and the City of Seattle is the “fastest growing large city.” This growth is a direct result of another commonality between Austin and Seattle, a cool factor that generates a gravitational pull of people, investment, and attention.
Speaking of cool, Seattle was recently named America’s Most Hipster City by “Thrillist” …Austin came in at #3. And between the two cities, you have a long list of internationally recognized events and festivals: South by Southwest, the Austin City Limits Music Festival, the Formula 1 U.S. Grand Prix, Bumbershoot, the Seattle International Film Festival, Seafair, and many others. If you want to define cool, you can’t get closer than Austin and Seattle. The evidence is substantial:
- Austin and Seattle were both ranked in the “Top 10 Cities to be a Moviemaker” by Movie Maker Magazine (Austin is #1, Seattle is #3).
- Both cities were included in the “Top 10 Most Vegan-Friendly Cities” by PETA (Austin is #1, Seattle is #6).
- Conde Nast Traveler recently named Austin and Seattle as two of “America’s Best Cities for Foodies” (Austin is #16, Seattle is #13).
- Both cities were included in Trulia’s list of “The 10 Best Cities To Dine With Your Valentine” (Austin is #7, Seattle is #8).
While the competition for cool is a fun conversation, we at TIP Strategies do take successful economies very seriously. There is much more than the entertaining buzz of oddball rankings that drives the success of these regions. Our firm has identified the formula to economic success as Talent, Innovation, and Place. Austin and Seattle have tapped into this formula and are benefiting from job growth and investment because they deliver on these critical components of a successful economy.
The regions are similar in a number of important ways:
- The Austin and Seattle metros are national leaders in population growth as evidenced by the latest Census data.
- Both cities also lead the nation in job growth. In fact, the U.S. News & World Report recently included Austin and Seattle in its list of “The 10 Best Cities to Find Jobs” (Austin is #5, Seattle is #6).
- The Austin and Seattle regions contain the most significant concentrations of high-tech companies in the country outside of Silicon Valley and Boston, thanks to headquarters and major facilities of tech companies like Microsoft, Amazon, Google, Facebook, Dell, Apple, Samsung, and many others.
- Both cities have high levels of educational attainment (44.8% of Austin residents age 25 and older hold a bachelor’s degree and 56.5% of Seattle residents age 25 and older hold a bachelor’s degree, compared to a U.S. average of 28.5%).
But each region meets the Talent, Innovation, and Place formula in its own unique way. Let’s briefly explore how the regional economies of Seattle and Austin are leading the pack:
Austin and Seattle are both magnets for talented professionals and entrepreneurs. The talent pool in each metro area is the basic building block of each region’s economy. Of course, the cool factor in both cities helps to attract talent from across the country. But each city also has a strong pool of locally grown talent thanks in large part to the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Washington, two of the top public universities in the world. As economic development professionals, we understand that access to talent is the number one issue for both companies and communities. Here’s how Austin and Seattle compare in the competition for talent:
- A recent study by the Milken Institute ranked the Austin and Seattle metro areas as two of the “Top 10 Best-Performing Cities” (Austin is #1, Seattle is #6). The study analyzed the 200 largest metro areas based on job, wage, and technology growth.
- Both cities were named as two of the “Best Cities for Twentysomethings” by CreditDonkey (Austin is #1, Seattle is #6).
- Niche.com recently named Austin and Seattle among the “25 Best Cities for Millenials” (Austin is #2, Seattle is #13).
- Austin and Seattle were included in the “35 Best Cities for People 35 and Under,” Vocativ.com’s Livability Index (Austin is #2, Seattle is #4).
- Both cities were included in The Daily Beast’s list of “America’s Thriving Cities” (Austin is #4, Seattle is #6).
There’s a special kind of energy in Austin and Seattle that you just don’t feel in most cities. Both places are hotbeds of creativity and innovation. This is partly due to the influx of people moving to these cities each day, but it’s also due to the level of growth taking place in locally based start-ups and small businesses. Austin and Seattle are among an elite group of cities that are on the cutting edge of innovation and entrepreneurship.
Here are a few examples of how the economies of Austin and Seattle are driving innovation:
- Business Insider recently named Austin and Seattle as two of “The 15 U.S. Cities That Are Driving The Future” (Austin is #1, Seattle is #6).
- Austin and Seattle were both ranked among “The 7 Hottest Startup Scenes in the U.S.” by Entrepreneur Magazine (Austin is #1, Seattle is #2).
- Both cities were included in the “Top 30 Cities for Young Entrepreneurs” (Austin is #1, Seattle is #10).
- Austin and Seattle were recently named among “The Most Tech-Savvy Digital Cities” by Digital Communities (Austin is #6, Seattle is #4).
The level of growth (population, jobs, investment) taking place in the regional economies of Austin and Seattle is strong evidence of each metro area’s quality of place. You can experience this first-hand simply by seeing the amount of construction cranes towering over each city’s urban core. Yet even if you’ve never visited either city, chances are you have a good impression of them. Each city has its own unique brand, but they are both vibrant cities with strong identities.
If a quick look at the population and job growth data (or construction cranes) isn’t enough to convince you that Austin and Seattle are two of the most appealing places in the U.S., here are a few more examples that might do the trick:
- Jones Lang Lasalle recently named Austin and Seattle among the “World’s 20 Most Dynamic Cities” as part of its proprietary City Momentum Index (Austin is #7, Seattle is #18).
- A recent Brookings Institution study includes Austin and Seattle in the top tier of “U.S. metro areas with the highest percentage of international trade” among the 100 largest metro areas (Austin is #9, Seattle is #12).
- Both cities were rated among the “Top 15 Aspirational Cities in the U.S.” by newgeography.com as part of an index that included both jobs and culture (Austin is #1, Seattle is #12).
- Austin and Seattle both rank highly on the “City Energy Efficiency Scorecard” LINK http://aceee.org/local-policy/city-scorecard from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (Austin is #6, Seattle is #5).
- Both cities ranked highly on the Urban Land Institute’s “U.S. Markets to Watch in 2014” (Austin is #7, Seattle is #6).
TIP Strategies is linked to each of these metropolitan economies like no other economic strategy firm. Our approach is grounded in understanding these economies, taking what we know to be their successful components, and applying and leveraging these lessons for the benefit of the communities we work with across the country. Being connected to and engaged in the two capitals of Talent, Innovation, and Place is our strategic advantage.
While our staff will continue to have fun debating which TIP location is cooler, we will always place serious emphasis on the lessons we can take from each of these metropolitan economies, lessons we can bring to our clients to help them build their own unique brands through Talent, Innovation, and place.