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Bellevue Chamber President & CEO Betty Capestany shares insights from her vantage point as head of Bellevue's premier business organization.

 

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Top tags: connections  entrepreneurial  technology  business awards  business showcase  congestion  digital economy  education  entrepreneurs  HOT lanes  Interstate 405  marketing  social media  tech revolution  traffic  trends 

March Comes in Like a Lion – Goes Out Raining Great Companies!

Posted By Betty Capestany, Monday, March 21, 2016

Last week I received a call from a reporter at 425 Magazine. She asked me what I thought about the National Small Business optimism report that was just released. My response was an easy one. While it may be raining in our area, it is raining with great companies, great ideas, great talent and people that are investing capital. So, our optimism is more bullish that in many parts of the country. We are also fortunate to have diverse economic clusters (Aerospace, Technology, Tourism, Retail, and Telecommunication) that are all continuing to innovate and spin off great ideas. These new sectors are multi-billion dollar economic drivers. Sectors like Cloud, Auto-telematics, Space, Interactive Gaming, Virtual and Augmented Reality, IOT (Internet of Things which includes wearables), personalized medicine and the list goes on and on.

So, you might ask - how do I know this?

  • First, our 2016 Eastside Business Leader Survey released in November shows over 90% of those surveyed believing the Puget Sound economy will continue to expand in the next year.
  • Unemployment rates show our region below 4%.
  • We have featured these emerging sectors annually at the Eastside Leadership Conference and the headlines have shown evidence of the growth in these sectors as well as capital investments growing these ideas.
  • SEEING THE IMPRESSIVE LIST OF EASTSIDE BUSINESS AWARD APPLICANTS! The companies are very impressive and the cool things they are doing are even more impressive. I can hardly wait until the envelopes are opened to reveal who the judges have selected for this year’s winners of the Entrepreneurial Spirit - Startup of the Year, Innovative Product or Service of the Year, Small Business of the Year and Eastside Business of the Year.

The Bellevue Chamber of Commerce has been highlighting Entrepreneurial Companies for the last 27 years! One of this year’s judges remarked “the Bellevue Chamber is the only one, I’m aware of that really champions entrepreneurship and innovation across a range of sectors.”

So, come celebrate with the leaders of these great companies on March 31st – space is limited click here to reserve now as we celebrate the Eastside Entrepreneurial Spirit, meet the impressive people behind these companies, and keep innovation, talent and investments pouring into our community!

Tags:  business awards  entrepreneurs 

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The Icing on Our “Cupcakes”

Posted By Sara Garner, Monday, March 7, 2016

Yes, while everyone loves the taste of cupcakes, often it is the most beautifully or creatively decorated cupcake that grabs the eye and leads to the quickest devouring. But, you might ask how did the topic of cupcakes come up in the first place? In this case, it was something that made it onto our twitter feed – a tweet from a Nebraska Legislator thanking us for showing up on Bellevue cupcake day.  We often get calls, tweets, even people wanting to join the Bellevue Chamber from Bellevue Nebraska or one of the other Bellevue’s, since there are over 121 across the globe. So, it is usually with a chuckle that we have to kindly note - wrong Bellevue. My most memorable Bellevue confusion was when Jamie Lee Curtis (yes the actress) asked for my business card in Sun Valley since her sister had just purchased a historic property downtown and was going to redevelop it. My mind quickly went to “where would that location be” to “do you mean Bellevue, Idaho?”

In the case of Bellevue Chamber of Commerce, and I need to quickly note - not our counterparts in Bellevue, Nebraska nor Bellevue, Idaho - it is the sprinkles on top that continue to have Bellevue, Washington at the top of the livability lists. 

Our City and downtown have gotten more diverse and younger. We continue to attract and grow amazing companies and the talent that makes our community a destination of choice. So, here are a few “sprinkles” of amazing things that our kids are doing within the Bellevue School District in the area of STEM and Computer Science Initiatives (stats courtesy BSD):

  • All elementary students are learning the engineering design process through engineering challenges embedded in K-5 science curriculum. Similar challenges are being developed and refined at the middle school level.
  • Every elementary school has resources for after school robotics programs for K-5 students, free of charge.
  • Teachers have received intensive, ongoing professional development at K-5 to teach engineering and incorporate new standards into their instructional practice.
  • Elementary schools are supported in hosting Family Engineering Nights to encourage engineering design and problem solving beyond the school day.
  • All elementary schools as well as some middle and high schools participated in Hour of Code in December 2015.
  • Nearly one-fourth of elementary teachers participated in a computer science pilot this year focusing on teaching coding using either Scratch or the Code.org courses.
  • Middle school teachers piloted a Code.org course that integrated computer science into the core science curriculum.
  • Middle school teachers piloted a line-based coding class using Python supported by Tech Smart Kids.
  • Advanced Placement computer science is offered at 5 Bellevue School District high schools.
  • BSD awarded OSPI grant to develop computational thinking professional development course for teachers and develop lessons integrating computational thinking in Math, Science, Social Studies, and Visual Arts.
  • Most of the Bellevue School District Graduates take an average of six Advanced Placement courses before graduation.

Kudos to Superintendent Mills, the Bellevue School Board, the terrific teachers and staff but most importantly the kids in our district that know the icing on our “cupcakes” is centered around STEM!

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Stuck?

Posted By Betty Capestany, Wednesday, February 10, 2016

 
 Source: WSDOT via KING5.com
Congestion relief and mobility are top priorities for the Bellevue Chamber of Commerce. To sustain a vibrant economy that works for all, employees, residents, consumers and commercial drivers have to be able to get where they need to go with a fast and reliable travel time. I-405 is the central artery for East King County and vital to the long-term success of our business climate. So, not surprisingly, the recently implemented managed lanes with tolls have generated a lot of energy and conversation.

The Bellevue Chamber’s Board of Directors took on this issue at the January Board meeting, receiving timely updates, including the latest data, from WSDOT and INRIX, a private firm that offers real-time traffic data.

While their data told different stories, the view from the 10,000 foot level is that HOT lanes appear to be working for those who are willing to pay for a faster trip. Not surprisingly, tolls are exceeding revenue expectations. For those traveling in the general purpose lanes, however, travel times have lengthened and total hours of congestion have increased. With these changes, new pinch points and safety challenges have also emerged.


Following this presentation, Eastside Business Leaders met with our legislative delegation in Olympia to voice frustration and to offer solutions to improve travel times in the I-405 corridor for all users. As a follow up, our Transportation Committee received an update from WSDOT staff on the I-405 Master Plan (projects from 2016 – 2024), as well as clarification of key data points included in the earlier presentation.

Chris Johnson, Director of Government Relations for the Chamber has been actively working this issue. He is a great resource if you need additional information. He would also like feedback from you and your workforce. Understanding real impacts helps our lawmakers find meaningful solutions. Please, tell us how you have been impacted (good or bad).

Our goal is to influence good public policy decision making that keeps Bellevue and the Greater Eastside as THE choice for businesses, talent, customers and residents alike.

Tags:  congestion  HOT lanes  Interstate 405  traffic 

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What Could Happen if You Just Walked in the Door?

Posted By Betty Capestany, Tuesday, January 26, 2016

What happens when you combine fabulous food, a room filled with tables packed full of creativity, a stormy night, and hundreds of people? Well in Bellevue, you get the opportunity to make deals and form sustainable connections and relationships.

 

Every January there is something I look forward to - no, it isn’t New Year’s resolutions or holiday bills. It’s the semi-annual Bellevue Chamber Business Showcase! I know you are probably wondering why since I have been to a lot of them. It’s the same response I will give you on why I enjoy every member connection opportunity. I get to hear amazing stories, hear testimonials and see connections happening in real time, the basis of long term business relationships.

 

Here are a few of the things I heard at the Showcase last week:

 

“Wow! What an amazing array of appetizers and a great facility!” Lots of compliments to the staff at the Red Lion Hotel Bellevue – you outdid yourselves!

 

“I got a coupon and message from The Seattle Times that told me to be here (even if it was raining) and they were right. I met a lot of interesting people.”

 

“My wife and I just moved to Bellevue two weeks ago. We lived in New York City for ten years, looked all over the U.S. and decided Bellevue is where we wanted to live and be part of the community!”

 

One of our Exhibitors Michael Langhout, Langhout International, LLC commented “this was a great event for my company. As a new member to the Chamber, we elected to staff a booth and sponsor a prize drawing. This provided an excellent opportunity to meet numerous new contacts, and learn about their plans and challenges. We had many visitors to our booth and we are excited to participate again at the next conference in June.

 

I do believe in karma, but I also believe that a well-organized event and a lot of encouragement to attend generate a lot of stories and opportunities. Along with those opportunities, being at the right place and at the right time is always half the battle. The other half of the battle is telling the story of your company by answering these questions: What specifically do you do?  What problem you are solving that makes life better? How do you add value? Who is your perfect customer? How was your company started?

 

The Bellevue Chamber’s mission is to provide resources in an environment that promotes the success of our member businesses. Help us shine the spotlight on your company! Tell us your story – give us your elevator pitch. Let us know the answers to the questions above so we can connect you and showcase your company. As business leaders, we know your time is valuable and the Chamber offers many benefits that you can receive without direct participation. We also know that just by walking in the door, you have access to potential business leads, referral sources, customers, or information to help your business.

Tags:  business showcase  connections 

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Discoveries…from Egyptian Tombs to Technological Advances

Posted By Betty Capestany, President/CEO Bellevue Chamber of Commerce, Friday, October 16, 2015

Reflecting on my recent FAM trip to Egypt I got thinking of discoveries and how they drive technology in different parts of the world. Ancient Egypt stood as one of the most advanced civilizations for nearly 3,000 years. I was in awe of the craftsmanship of the temples, tombs and pyramid builders. The precision, scale and design of these creations are nothing short of amazing.

You may have seen the CNN announcements recently on the potential discovery of Queen Nefertiti’s tomb which they think is adjacent to King Tut’s tomb. She is the long lost Egyptian Queen dating back over 3,000 years. On our trip, we were privileged to have a private guided tour by the head of Antiquities for Egypt who told us an announcement would be coming in the next several weeks. Over the course of the next month, experts will use technology to confirm this discovery – using radar and thermal imaging to scan the walls of King Tut’s tomb to differentiate between bedrock and artificial walls. This will help them determine if something is there and the best way to approach it without destroying the existing tomb.

What caused me to pause is this discovery for Egypt is thousands of years old. With this discovery they will hopefully recover more of their past history, which then will draw more visitors to their country. Tourism is one of Egypt’s top economic development engines and has been dramatically impacted by political unrest and changes.

The discoveries in our region (Bellevue, the Eastside and the Puget Sound area) have a totally different focus. While our region counts its years in the hundreds, Egypt counts its years in the thousands. Yet, we stand at the forefront of the latest technological advances. Our discoveries are made by amazingly talented people and are truly changing the world. Technology is advancing across all industry sectors and transforming the way we do things. Being at the center of these advances, we continue to move from one advancement to the next - from the center of mobile, to advances in cures for many diseases like Parkinson’s, MS, Alzheimer’s, aviation and space, auto telematics (driverless cars), wearables, augmented and virtual reality and the list goes on and on. These discoveries are not only driving the economic engines of our economy – they are also attracting talent from all over the word to be part of our communities.

Our group also experienced amazing opportunities to connect with local leaders from an hour long meeting with the Prime Minister (who was removed from power one week later) to meeting with the American Egyptian Chamber of Commerce working to promote business opportunities between our countries.  As a side note, another contrast that amazed me was in the arena of infrastructure. In Egypt’s favor they were able to double the size of the Suez Canal in a year. Maybe we need a lesson on this one, since our infrastructure projects take years in comparison. I would not however change our region for the chaotic traffic driving in Cairo nor their crazy building standards that leave the unfinished top floors that looks like a sea of rebar.

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Pay it Forward for Social Media ROI

Posted By Sara Garner, Thursday, August 20, 2015

When social media networks first took off, it appeared to be very individual relationship driven. Then in the last 5-6 years businesses began integrating social media into their public relation campaigns and strategies. Often I would hear from company leaders, we are doing Facebook and Twitter but not sure there is any business return for the time we are investing in social media.

Well, like many things that you pay forward, new research is showing that maybe the investment is paying off. A recent article in McKinsey Quarterly states that “new research shows that buzz plays a greater role than previously thought in getting consumers to buy and that the pool of the most effective influencers is largely untapped.” Check out the link below to see how social media can impact sales and how companies can achieve a bigger return on their investments using social-media networks like Facebook and Twitter to create a marketplace “Buzz.”

Tags:  marketing  social media 

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Pursuing Solutions to Global Challenges

Posted By Sara Garner, Monday, June 29, 2015
Kudos to the University of Washington, Tsinghua University and Microsoft for creating a groundbreaking partnership with the launch of the Global Innovation Exchange (GIX) which will be located in Bellevue’s Spring District!

Leaders at the press conference acknowledged that this is the first time a Chinese research university has established a physical presence in the United States. This public private partnership opportunity will create the GIX, an institute dedicated to educating the next generation of innovators. A shout out also goes to Microsoft for their $40 million in foundational support to help make this project a reality. GIX creates not only an innovative model, but a unique synergy bringing the brightest minds breaks down global boundaries and empowers the next generation of innovation focused on global solutions. It has been said that company innovations have happened all around our region. Now having the ability for talent from throughout the world to work together to solve global challenges offers a very exciting opportunity. We are thrilled that Bellevue has been selected as the location for this innovative opportunity.

According to the agreement, GIX will open its doors in the fall of 2016 with an inaugural master’s degree in technology innovation, and will grow with additional degree and certificate programs and fields of study over the next decade. GIX will bring together students, faculty, professionals and entrepreneurs from around the world to collaborate on real-world technology and design projects. GIX will pioneer new models of global teaching and learning by directly connecting students and faculty through equal collaborations with research-led companies and nonprofits in a holistic, project-based environment that will prepare students to help solve a range of global challenges, from the drive for sustainable development to the need for mobile health solutions.
 
GIX’s initial degree offering will be a 15-month Master of Science in Technology Innovation (pending approval), with an initial cohort of 30 to 35 students starting in fall 2016. New degree and certificate programs will be added over time in response to challenges and opportunities yet to be imagined. Private sector companies and nonprofits will actively participate, helping identify critical needs and providing mentors. By 2025, it is estimated that more than 3,000 learners will be part of GIX.

In addition to the University of Washington and Tsinghua University, GIX is being founded under a governance structure that will enable additional world-class research universities to join as equal partners in the future, according to a Microsoft press release and information on the two university websites. Additionally, GIX will contribute to the broader innovation ecosystem through partnerships with a select number of world-leading research and development organizations — both companies and nonprofit research institutions — with Microsoft being the first of several to support the new Institute in this capacity.

Greg Johnson, President of Wright Runstad & Company, noted that having GIX located in Bellevue’s Spring District in the Bell-Red corridor provides a great connection to multiple technology corridors in the greater Seattle area, and is just 10 miles from the UW campus. GIX will be housed in a state-of-the-art facility that will feature computing and design labs, a prototyping facility and collaboration and presentation spaces.

More information can be found at: www.washington.edu/gix

Tags:  education  technology 

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The Place to Be!

Posted By Betty Capestany, President/CEO Bellevue Chamber of Commerce, Friday, January 16, 2015

As I flip the calendar over to a new year it always causes me to pause and reflect on the opportunities and challenges this last year has brought and what is on the horizon. What stands out to me is what I call the Bellevue and Eastside marketplace convergence zone. An entrepreneurial energy that comes from our startup communities as well as our established companies has us in all respects leading the nation in terms of job creation, ideation and top talent. Add to that, an amazing environment where crowdfunding provides startup capital for great business ideas.

This convergence zone fosters the strong influence that technology has on local companies who need to be connected to what the customers of the future are demanding. Ideas that seemed farfetched a few years ago are becoming more main stream. As I see it, the opportunities in 2015 will continue to be centered around this tech revolution highlighted by these driving factors.

  • The Internet of things. We are in the center of the digital economy. Opportunities of the future will be tied to the Internet even if it is accessing data to grow your customer base or store information.

  • The cloud will continue to be a part of the way business is done. Smaller companies and individuals will access the cloud to provide economies of scale and efficiencies for their company and also to allow for employee mobility.

  • Mobile-powered apps and connectivity will continue to grow. Online purchasing is a $312 Billion industry.

  • Wearables and smartphones will continue to be “hot” and the opportunities are endless from health and fitness to rewards “currencies of change” programs (discounts or perks for being healthy).

  • Increased usage of 3D printers and robots to not only decrease business costs but to also increase customer satisfaction.

  • Customers will continue to be in the driver’s seat demanding brands to align with their needs. You will see a focus on more “Fast Lane Solutions” to allow loyal customers to have accelerated service and be rewarded for their loyalty. Examples will be hotel loyalty programs where customers can check into their rooms via their phones or fast-food ordering programs with retina detection that can tell by how long you view an item, what you are going to order and have it ready for you.

  • Consumers in both the millennial and GenerationZ (born after 1993) believe that business brands should share their same values. They are also more focused on sharing and giving back to the community instead of owning a product or service. Hence we’ve seen the rise of car, bicycle, vacation home, and equipment sharing opportunities as well as apps that make it easy to share fares or split costs. The demand for these opportunities will continue.

Economic success also brings challenges, and to me these are the most pressing issues.

  • Transportation and mobility. Getting people to work, kids to school and consumers to their destination is a critical component that will increase the economic impact of our region as improvements to our infrastructure are made.

  • Access to Talent.  Continuing to be the place of choice for talented people to want to live and work.  There is global competition and a talent shortage.  These are the individuals that will propel our companies as well as generate ideas and products of the future.

  • With all the opportunities available a big challenge (that also creates opportunities) is how do companies navigate in a digital world that is very customized to reach customers. The days of 50% market penetration are long gone. Businesses today have to be strategic to navigate the changing marketplace to find the best ways to connect with their perfect customer.

My hopes and dreams for 2015 are that the really smart people that make our area a place of choice to live and work, continue to innovate. Their success provides an environment that is the envy of communities around the globe. From my perspective, this entrepreneurial energy makes the positives far outweigh the challenges and I look forward to a very prosperous 2015!

Tags:  digital economy  entrepreneurial  tech revolution  trends 

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