Seattle: The future planning of a changing city

Having grown up in Seattle and moving to Chicago three years ago, I always find every time I return home the city seems to be undergoing new developmental changes. Whether it be new road construction or building projects, in just the past three years alone I have watched the city not only tear down our beloved viaduct waterfront highway but also construct one of the newest prominent non profit institutions, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, a mere three blogs away from my childhood home. With any of these projects, whether they be large or smaller scale, a huge amount of budgeting and project management goes in to making sure the proposed ideas are a success. So what project is next on Seattle’s agenda? A local Seattle Times article highlights the city’s newest proposal, a huge waterfront project to replace the deconstruction of the Alaskan Way Viaduct.


The new project would include not only new streets and pathways but also parks, a roller rink, and even a salt water swimming pool and is the biggest civic project Seattle has seen since 1962. To reiterate what has been discussed time and again, any management for projects of this time takes an immense amount of planning in everything from the beginning stages, budgeting, and execution. Even deciding between the type of scheduling or budgeting methods you use can have a huge impact on the duration and success of the project. For a project of this size, which will take years to fully execute, the city must prioritize and time each separate activity to ensure their time estimates are as accurate as possible. As demonstrated by the project triangle learned in class, performance, time, and cost must all be taken into heavy consideration because a lack of concentration in just one of these areas can be detrimental to the success of a project.

While still in relatively preliminary planning on the project, the city already has a proposed budget of $420 billion dollars with both public and private contributions as well as a project duration of 7 to 8 years. For funding alone they have already presented various fundraising activities and programs to jumpstart the public donations. Each of these activities, however, will also need to be properly planned, budgeted, and executed to earn the maximum amount of money possible for the project. While much of the planning is still in relatively new stages, the budgeting as received positive feedback from the finance committee, stating it seems attainable as well as reasonable. “We went into this worrying about the scale,” said Gerry Johnson, a Seattle attorney and co-chairman. “We’ve emerged being very confident that this is something we can accomplish.” (Seattle Times) As long as the city can keep cost and proper planning in accordance with their budgets and performance, this could prove to be the largest, most successful civil project the city has seen in a long time, and one I would appreciate coming home to. Do you agree? Does the budgeting and planning seem appropriate or are they neglecting a component that could hurt a project of this size?

Cultural Awareness in a Global Market

       One of the most interesting courses I took in the preceding quarter was an economics based class concentrating on the effects, both negative and positive, of globalization. The outlooks on globalization were formed on the premise that, as a system, globalization is powerful and inevitable. As technology, communication and international trade continue to expand so to will global markets and it is becoming less and less of a possibility for nations to remain uninvolved in these global markets. It is with this acknowledgment that a balance must be struck between how systems of international trade and business interact with other nations, and how the system can strive to benefit the most nations and people possible, not just those that are most powerful.

       It is with the background in the course that I found our class discussion on global business strategies so fascinating. In the previous course we concentrated much more heavily on the negative impacts of globalization for less developed nations, and I realized I had studied a lot less the positive impacts it can have on businesses, particularly when they are implemented in a knowledgeable, culturally conscious way. We examined many of the reasons a business would be driven to globalize, including to reduce costs, improve their supply chain, provide higher quality goods and services, understand markets, improve operations, and attract global talent. While these are all excellent reasons for an industry to expand towards a more international outlook, I think there are specific ways that these developments can be done in the most culturally sensitive, beneficial way possible, which were also touched on in our class discussion.

        In a recent New York Times article, there is an interview conducted with the author of “All Business is Local: Why Place Matters More Than Ever in a Global, Virtual World.” He concentrates, specifically, on how global markets have directed business ventures towards trade and expansion within China. In one segment of his interview, he argues that are huge benefits to expanding industries being knowledgeable about how to localize their products depending on where they are being implemented. “What we argue is that all great global brands are also great local brands. McDonald’s, for example, adapts its menus and store designs, appoints local business people as franchisees, relies on local raw ingredients and talent, gives to local community organizations. In a large market like China, the upside profit potential of getting the formula right locally is very attractive relative to the extra costs of adaptation.”

       For a company to be successful and powerful in a global market, they need to be strategic and aware of where exactly they are trying to incorporate their product. Cultural awareness and tact are becoming increasingly more important, whether it be through communication strategies or foreign consumer advertising, it is always beneficial to be knowledgeable of the cultures you wish to open trade with. Do you agree that cultural influences are not only ethically important but also important from a business standpoint? If not, what should take precedence when concentrating on implementing a business into a global market?