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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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Bellevue Has a Pulse!

Posted By Betty Nokes Capestany, Tuesday, November 29, 2016


Joe Quinlan, Bank of America (right) with Bellevue Chamber Past Chairman Craig Foreman, Merrill Lynch

“I love coming to Bellevue - you have a pulse!” – Keynote Speaker Joe Quinlan, Bank of America

The 23rd Eastside Economic Forecast Breakfast earlier this month was chock full of terrific fact, data and predictions for 2017. Click the links below for a few highlights.

Thanks to you we have amazing corporate leaders whose products and services range from hyper-local to global. You continue to attract the best and brightest companies and talent to our marketplace. As our Keynote Speaker Economic Strategist Joe Quinlan, Bank of America, noted in his opening remarks, “I love coming to Bellevue - you have a pulse!” 

Each year, Joe names his top three must reads which are tied to both the global and US economy. This year’s list includes:

  • Rise and Fall American Growth – Robert Gordon
  • Future Crimes: Inside the Digital Underground and the Battle for our Connected World – Marc Goodman
  • Wish Lanterns: Young lives in new China – Alec Ash

Another annual highlight of the event is our drill down on the pulse of the Eastside and region’s key economic indicators. Download the 2017 Eastside Economic Strategy Guide which is filled with 62 pages of incredible information. The guide is also easily viewable on your phones or tablets.

Did You Know?

  • Bellevue is now Washington’s biggest majority-minority city
  • Bellevue’s median household income is $99,000, even higher than Seattle’s
  • Seattle is the fifth whitest among the nation’s major cities
  • Bellevue continues to be a top tech talent marketplace
  • The Bellevue School District has developed a computer science pathways program for all students pre-K to 12th grade. The program is ranked #2 in the world behind Shanghai, China. 

Check out other interesting nuggets in the 2017 Economic Forecast Strategy Guide!

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Elegant Solutions

Posted By Betty Nokes Capestany, Monday, October 10, 2016

Eastside Annual Dinner keynote speaker Matthew May prodded and encouraged attendees to step outside their comfort zone and to reach for elegant solutions to problems and challenges. May encouraged business leaders to find the simplest, cheapest, least-intrusive, most effective changes you can make to a system, but also take time to slow down and ask questions to reach these solutions. He encouraged leaders to not overthink a problem or to jump to a conclusion.

He showed us ways for us to use our brains to “win” consistently in a world of disruption. He challenged us to use mindful thinking to get a new competitive edge.

Recognizing the world is getting more complex and moving faster – this often pressures us to reach for fast solutions that might not be the best. He used an example of a luxury health club with 40 shower stalls, each equipped with a free standing full-sized bottle of salon-exclusive shampoo. The problem the health club had was they had a 33% theft rate of club members stealing the shampoo bottles. So, with the goal of:

  • 100% theft elimination
  • Not to change/end the current offering (full-size, free standing)
  • No additional burden on the patrons
  • Extremely low, preferably no cost (pennies on the bottle)
  • Easy to implement, no disruption of normal club operation.

He challenged us to solve the problem. Yes, as you can imagine there were tons of ideas and solutions brainstormed. None of which met all of the requirements above. Things like: installing locks around the containers; putting the shampoo in unmarked bottles; giving out free-samples at the front desk; hiring shower security guards…and the list went on.

The simple, yet elegant solution was…removing the lids to the bottles. May then walked us through the seven fatal flaws of thinking and how to fix them so we can have “Elegant Solutions” in our businesses and daily lives.  He ended with a mantra of….

  • What appears to be the problem isn’t;
  • What appears to be the solution isn’t;
  • What appears to be impossible isn’t.

…and encouraged us to look at issues from a different perspective since that is where the solutions become elegant.

To find additional details on how you can overcome the fatal flaws check out Matthew May’s latest book Winning the Brain Game. Or to help you with Elegant Solutions on what is instore for our economy in 2017…save the date and plan join us for the Eastside Economic Forecast Breakfast November 17!

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Unlocking the Code

Posted By Betty Capestany, Monday, June 20, 2016
Trying to figure out how you can connect to the generations in the workplace and what motivates them? Or are you intrigued about technologies that are transforming the way business is done? Does the “inner geek” in you want to see what the future may hold in the way we work and live? If any of these statements intrigue you - then the Eastside Leadership Conference is a place for you.

The Eastside Leadership Conference encapsulates 15 years of melding, science, technology and the wickedly smart people transforming how business gets done. It’s known as the place to be to get an insider look into the disruptive technologies shaping our world and the companies that are on the forefront right here, at home.

The Eastside Leadership Conference is a rare opportunity for traditional business and civic leaders to get a peek at the people and technologies that are transforming the world. Daily our feeds are loaded with amazing discoveries or new technologies. We’ve distilled these large forces for you and are highlighting rapidly emerging clusters that are becoming multi-billion dollar industries.

Now, you may think “Why does it matter? We’re a traditional company providing traditional services.” I would challenge you on this one. My guess is you have a smartphone, your company has updated its IT and is taking advantage of consumer data to find your perfect customer. You are also probably dipping your toe in the water to figure out how to monetize social media to help expand your customer base. You might even use a 3D printer to manufacture prototypes or parts. Exponential growth in these areas is centered in our region – and you have an opportunity to join us for a fast, informative glimpse of what’s in store on topics like the Internet of Things (IoT); Artificial Intelligence, Augmented and Virtual Reality, Cybersecurity, 3D Printing, and Big Data; delivered in a manner even “non-geeks” can understand.

I know these all sound out there but you would be amazed at the small businesses that are taking these concepts and turning them into successful business strategies. You will get to meet these companies. You’ll also hear from Anna Liotta on how to unlock the generational codes in our workplace.

It’s amazing to look back on the cool stuff that was highlighted before it was common place in the market. A few years ago Dave Hasslinger from Washington Federal summed up the conference well. He said, “I left the conference wondering what the bank branch of the future would look like, or if we would even have branches or if the next branch would be on Mars!” The Conference will give you critical insights on how to integrate, respond, and adapt to the disruptive forces changing our world and to use these ideas to help shape our future!

With technology advancing at an exponential pace, hold onto your seats - the next big thing is happening right here, right now. Do you have your reservation? The Conference will sell out - only a handful of tickets remain so reserve your ticket today for the June 24 Eastside Leadership Conference!

Tags:  connections  entrepreneurial  technology 

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Catch the Spirit!

Posted By Betty Capestany, Monday, April 18, 2016
 Betty racing in the Berlin Marathon

Can you feel it? There is something about more daylight, flowers in bloom, birds singing and the pitter patter of feet hitting the pavement that jump starts my day and makes me feel alive. Yes, I must confess I get my inner Zen early in the morning with my trusted Brooks running shoes. Whether it is the fun of a new route, the buzz from a great run, quiet moments to solving problems or just the magic of capturing the sunrise – I love running. My only regret is that I didn’t start running earlier in life. Running long distances has analogies to business - you are in it for the long haul. There are peaks and valleys, twists and turns, but the thrill of victory when you cross the line with an amazing new product or new customers makes the journey worthwhile.

So as I get ready to complete my 5th World Major Marathon (yes, 26.2 miles) I challenge you to lace up your shoes and join us for the Spirit of Bellevue 5K and 12K on May 22nd. This fun event allows you to walk the 5K or jog/run the 12K and see the amazing sights our City has to offer. Plus, your efforts are helping raise funds for college scholarships for deserving kids and budding entrepreneurs. And it is even more fun when you have family and friends join you. Register now and use discount code CatchTheSpirit by May 13th to save $5 off of your registration fee!

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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 courses.
  • Middle school teachers piloted a 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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Posted By Betty Capestany, Wednesday, February 10, 2016

 Source: WSDOT via
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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