Today has been a very intense day. I gleaned all of this by consuming 7 minutes of news coverage: Nearly 1 billion people tuned in or turned out for the funeral of pop icon Michael Jackson. Human rights organizations around the world are calling for the release of Iranian election protesters. The Taliban is buying children for suicide attacks. The District of Columbia will recognize same sex marriages. Nobody knows what's going on with soon-to-be-ex-Governor Sarah Palin. SC Governor Mark Sanford is still dominating with embarrassing headlines. And Boeing has announced the purchase of a 787 fuselage assembly vendor in North Charleston, SC.
Being a SC native, it's interesting to see the state garnering so much attention (I didn't see any serial killer updates in the 7-minute stretch). But having lived in Seattle for 13 years, I am vested in the success of the Puget Sound Region, small businesses in particular. Any big news that takes jobs to another region is putting strain on an already flailing small business environment in the Greater Seattle area.
When a major corporation decides to move part or all of its business from one region to another, it doesn't just affect that company and its workers. The surrounding community is impacted by relocating employees who sell their houses. The region is impacted by individuals who lose their jobs and rely on social services to survive. These impacts dent a housing market struggling to recover and stomps on already overburdened state government budgets (or should I say deficits?)
Small businesses are impacted by the diminishing buying power of their consumer base. Other small businesses are impacted by the loss in potential first- or second-tier supplier contracts with the corporation and its major suppliers. When these small businesses lose their revenue streams, their employees start losing their benefits and wages, then their jobs. Then those employees start relocating to find better jobs or have to rely on social services until they can be re-trained in another industry or find another job in their fields. Small businesses shutter their doors, leading to a decline in state tax revenues and job availability for the nation's 9.5% of folks that are unemployed (note that small business owners are not traditionally represented in that figure).
Such a simple business decision in one company has a huge impact on an entire region. A friend who recently relocated from Detroit can tell how she's upside down on a Michigan mortgage while clinging to her small business engineering job here in Washington state. With a new Seattle mortgage under her belt, can she afford to relocate if her job moves east?
I have joined the Washington Aerospace Partnership to help keep the Seattle area the world's largest aerospace cluster and to help the more than 650 aerospace businesses in our state gain access to the resources they need to sustain revenues and fuel a job-growing economy. If you as an organization or individual would like to learn more about this partnership and get involved, please visit the Washington Aerospace Partnership web site.
If you are in SC or other regions of the country impacted by the changes in the manufacturing sector, I would love to hear from you. I will be writing a post about how Montreal addressed a decline in its manufacturing cluster and is still thriving as the world's third largest aerospace cluster.
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