Economic development director highlights Q2 successes

Bellevue Economic Development Director James Henderson says the city is on track to meet its 2015 action plan, a strategy largely dependent on providing enhanced service within a growing business sector.

Bellevue Economic Development Director James Henderson says the city is on track to meet its 2015 action plan, a strategy largely dependent on providing enhanced service within a growing business sector.

Henderson, borrowing from a program he employed in San Antonio, Texas, is using a development action team to assess and address the needs of local companies and those looking to relocate to Bellevue.

The economic development director highlighted three recent successes during a Q2 report to the city council on Monday, the most notable being the Global Innovation Exchange coming to the Spring District.

Henderson called the University of Washington/Tsinghua University partnership for a graduate institute “a longterm game changer for Bellevue” and the region.

Inspire, a Chinese-based tech company, also moved into Bellevue in Q2, is leasing a facility in Crossroads and looking to hire an additional 50 staffers. Henderson credited Councilmember Conrad Lee as playing a key role in attracting the company here.

The city also played a part in drawing Japanese apparel company Uniqlo to Bellevue, Henderson said, making it the first Washington store.

On the expansion side of Bellevue’s Business Retention and Expansion program, Bellevue assisted iSpot.tv in growing its presence in Crossroads, the company adding 6,000 square feet of office space, with plans to hire an additional 40 employees.

Henderson said the city assisted virtual reality company Envelop VR with its expansion into downtown Bellevue and provided export assistance to Bellevue Brewing so the local brewer could enter the Canadian market.

Based on feedback from companies city staff has been meeting with, Henderson said more affordable office space and workforce housing is desired, the tech sector also concerned about a lack of parking as employee density increases within smaller spaces.

“They’re really looking to us for some recommendations on parking options,” he said.

On top of taking a lot of ideas from his last position in San Antonio, Henderson also stole away its economic development specialist, Jesse Canedo, who is now Bellevue’s economic development manager.

Canedo told the council Next Generation Bellevue — a city initiative geared toward entrepreneurs and startups — is making great strides through its partnership with ImpactHub.

The startup incubator opened in March and surpassed a goal of incorporating 30 new businesses into its space at the Lincoln Center by an additional 13 companies.

“Those are 43 businesses we hope will grow very quickly and very well here in Bellevue,” Canedo said.

ImpactHub has added space every month since opening, Canedo said, with a public event space slated to open in late August.