• John Touey
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Touey: "Mo Money Mo Problems"

To quote Biggy, “Mo Money Mo Problems”.  When I first visited Seattle last year, it reminded me of Hong Kong, not so much in the climate, culture, or geography (although both are beautiful cities on beautiful bodies of water), but in one respect for much alike: cranes.   The amount of development going on in and around Seattle was simply astounding. The growth in commercial and residential buildings was astronomical and, as we sat in traffic while going to any venue to which we could not walk or take the monorail, I wondered where are they going to put all these people? 


Seattle’s commercial success also appears to be one of the major challenges to the community.  With skyrocketing housing prices and a growing homeless population, the signs of inequitable growth that plague cities like San Francisco and Boston are evident.  While it’s wonderful to see the commercial success brought by companies like Amazon, Costco, and Microsoft, the citizenship of these corporations only goes so far in addressing the issues of affordability that challenge Seattleites and put increasing pressure on infrastructure. High class problems, perhaps, but problems nonetheless.   


And, problems I can see our own region confronting, albeit in a much smaller way at the moment.  Issues of affordability, gentrification, education, and inclusive growth have all become more prominent in Philadelphia in recent years.  And, while it’s great to that we are experiencing growth in population and economic prospects in a region that has for decades been in decline, can we learn from other metros that have already or are currently experiencing these challenges so as not to make same mistakes that make a family of four earning $119,000/year eligible for public assistance in San Francisco? 


I hope to come back from Seattle with some nice pictures from the Space Needle but more so with great ideas we can use to the benefit of our people and our region, as well as a cadre of like minded individuals to work them.  I think that’s the goal and with resources like GPLEX Labs now available a very attainable one.   


John Touey is Principal at Salveson Stetson Group, a member of the Economy League Board of Directors, and a seasoned GPLEX veteran.