What if we teamed with Oregon ...
In July 2000, I sold my advertising and public-relations firm to a large New York City agency. And, even though I grew up on the East Coast...
Special to The Times
In July 2000, I sold my advertising and public-relations firm to a large New York City agency. And, even though I grew up on the East Coast, I was still surprised how unaware the rest of the country is about the Northwest. To many we are still the land of rain, volcanoes and lumber.
Say "Seattle area" to an East Coaster and the answer is not, "Oh, that is where Microsoft (or Starbucks or Boeing) is located"; rather, it is more likely to be, "Oh, it rains a lot there."
In general, people don't know our summers are magnificent, our people the epitome of civility and that we have three national parks within two hours of downtown Seattle. The mindset does resemble that famous New Yorker magazine cover many years ago in which a schematic map of the U.S. gave about 10 percent of the land mass to the area west of the Hudson.
This national naïveté about the Northwest encompasses politics, tourism and even sports, and costs our state tens of millions of dollars annually, if not hundreds of millions. Despite the area's beauty and business successes, we are geographically inconvenient and we will be unable to gain greater national recognition unless we do something about it.
Consider tourism. While it is up over the past few years, most would agree that it is far below what it could be. There are two reasons for this. One is California. When people in the rest of the country think West Coast, they think California, period. California, with its 35 million people and warm beaches and Disneyland and Arnold, overshadows us in a big way and spends aggressively to attract tourists from the rest of the country and Europe.
The other reason is that our state tourism budget, though recently increased, is still a paltry sum ... only a few million dollars. Yet, few other state investments generate a better return: Every dollar invested in state tourism generates more than a $10 return.
So, here's a solution: Let's get together with Oregon and develop a regional tourism fund.
It makes sense on so many levels. It gives us more to market. Think Mount Hood and Mount Rainier; Cannon Beach and the San Juans; Pike Place Market and the Pearl District — with Amtrak providing a scenic two-state link.
Together we can come closer to offsetting California's advertising budget and achieve effective threshold advertising levels. We could start by marketing to select European countries like England, Holland and Germany, whose citizens would stay longer and spend more.
There are other areas of Washington-Oregon cooperation. What if we agreed to hold our state primaries during presidential years on the same day? This would offer a much bigger prize to candidates and encourage them to spend more time in the Northwest and get to know our area and understand our issues. This can only result in more federal government support for our businesses, universities and environmental causes, and likely more federal investment in our area.
And, let's build the base of our sports teams by having the Seahawks and the Mariners play a few games in Oregon. And, when the Sonics leave next year, maybe we can share the Trailblazers. And, while we're at it, why not share a National Hockey League team with Portland? This will increase broadcast revenues and, for the Mariners at least, perhaps create a larger payroll to get closer to Boston and New York.
The point is, we need Oregon and it needs us to attract the level of attention this area deserves. I'd love to see our respective governors put together a committee to flesh out these opportunities and others. And, while they are at it, invite the head of the B.C. government as well.Ralph Fascitelli is a partner in Utopian Marketing, based in Seattle.
Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company
Sam and Sara Lucchese create handmade pasta out of their kitchen-garage adjacent to their Ballard home. Here, they illustrate the final steps in making pappardelle pasta.