Greater Seattle Partners hires economic-development CEO

The new organization will promote the region as a whole while capitalizing on Seattle’s name recognition.

Brian P. McGowan

Brian P. McGowan

SEATTLE — Greater Seattle Partners, a new economic development group that includes business leaders and governments in Snohomish, King and Pierce counties, has chosen its first chief executive.

Brian P. McGowan will lead the public-private nonprofit. He is an economic development expert and former president and CEO of Atlanta Beltline, an economic development and transportation initiative in Atlanta.

Former Gov. Chris Gregoire spearheaded a two-year effort to create Greater Seattle Partners, which is a regional nonprofit whose mission is to attract business, trade and investment to the Puget Sound region. The idea is to promote the region as a whole while capitalizing on Seattle’s international name recognition.

McGowan, who plans to take the helm when the organization becomes operational in August, said he was “thrilled to come to the Puget Sound region and build on its stellar foundation of highly innovative businesses, its commitment to international trade and its eagerness to compete globally to bring new investment to the region.”

The launch of Greater Seattle Partners has been helped by contributions of $2 million, with three-quarters of the money donated by the private sector. Corporate supporters include Boeing, Amazon, JP Morgan Chase, Microsoft, Starbucks and Alaska Airlines. About a dozen elected officials are on the group’s executive council, including Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers.

At the heart of Greater Seattle Partners initiative is a plan for member cities to each generate quantitative studies of assets, such as proximity to a deep-water port or commercial airport, which can be given to prospective incoming businesses.

The group conducted a nationwide search to find a CEO with experience in economic development and global trade. The search committee was co-chaired by Phyllis Campbell, chairwoman for the Pacific Northwest arm of JP Morgan Chase Bank; Brad Tilden, CEO of Alaska Airlines; and Tacoma Mayor Victoria Woodards.

“We all look forward to having Brian lead us based on his successful record of leading diverse and complex economic development and trade organizations from California to D.C. and Atlanta,” Tilden said in a news release.

McGowan was appointed by President Barack Obama in 2009 to serve as the deputy assistant secretary and chief operating officer for the U.S. Economic Development Administration.

In 2008, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger appointed him to serve as deputy secretary for economic development and commerce in that state.

Janice Podsada:; 425-339-3097.

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