Located in the Pacific Northwest of the United States on Puget Sound, the Seattle-Bellevue-Everett metropolitan area has a thriving and diverse economy. There are fifteen Fortune 1000 company headquarters in the state of Washington, fourteen of them are in the Seattle metropolitan area. Nine of the companies in the Seattle area are on the Fortune 500. The largest company headquartered in the Seattle area is Costco. The most famous are probably Amazon.com, Microsoft, and Starbucks.
Aircraft manufacturer Boeing used to be based in Seattle, and although it moved its company headquarters to Chicago, its largest division is still located in Bellevue, and it continues to be a major force in the Seattle area economy. Boeing has Seattle area aircraft manufacturing plants in Everett and Renton, and is one of the largest employers in the Seattle area.
In its 2006 list of "Best Cities for Doing Business" in the United States, Inc. magazine ranked the Seattle area twenty-eighth in the large cities category. The criteria used in the compiling the Inc. list emphasizes regional growth. Seattle also fared well in on Forbes magazine's 2005 list of "Best Places For Business and Careers". Forbes ranked Seattle seventy-third out of the 150 largest metropolitan areas. Expansion Management magazine ranked Seattle seventeenth on its 2006 list of "America's 50 Hottest Cities". Seattle also achieved a "5-Star Business Opportunity Metro" ranking from Expansion Management’s 2005 Mayor’s Challenge ranking of the "Top Business Opportunity Metros." Ranking criteria include business climate, transportation and logistics infrastructure, quality of life, public education, and other areas important to corporate site selectors.
Helping to fuel the economy of the Seattle area is one of the most highly educated work forces in the United States. In 2005, researchers at Central Connecticut State University ranked Seattle the most literate city in America. According to the United States Census Bureau, Seattle has the highest percentage of college graduates of any major U.S. city. 51.3 percent of Seattle's 25-and-over population has a bachelor's degree or higher. Forbes Magazine in its 2005 list of "Best Places For Business and Careers", ranked Seattle 10th of the 150 largest metropolitan areas in educational attainment.
Major industries in the Seattle area include aerospace, forest products, the military, and the shipping industry. While these are the traditional foundation of the Seattle economy, emerging industries include software, retail, biotechnology, tourism, Internet services, and telecommunications.
High technology and software are a major force in the Seattle area economy. According to the Seattle government site, the Seattle area ranks fifth in the United States for software jobs as a percentage of total population. There are about 6,000 software related companies in the region who employ over 65,000 people.
The United States Military is also one of the largest employers in the Seattle/Puget Sound region. Major facilities in the region include an Army base, an air force base, two navy bases, and a Naval shipyard.
Another major influence on the area's economy is the Port of Seattle. The port is an excellent deep-water harbor in the center of the Puget Sound basin. It is the fifth largest container port in the United States, and the thirty-seventh largest in the world as of 2005. Port of Seattle facilities (largely the port and the Seattle Tacoma International Airport) have a huge economic impact. Port facilities and businesses supporting those facilities account for nearly 200,000 jobs in the Puget Sound region.
For the business traveler, the Seattle area is served by the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA), or Sea-Tac. In 2005, Sea-Tac was ranked as the seventh busiest airport in the United States and thirtieth busiest airport in the world.
Notable companies in the Seattle area include:
- Alaska Air Group
- Costco Wholesale
- Expeditors Intl. of Washington
- Nextel Partners
- Nintendo of America
- Plum Creek Timber
- Puget Energy
- Washington Mutual
Major business organizations in the Seattle area include:
- The Greater Seattle Business Association
- The Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce
- The Washington Biotechnology & Biomedical Association (WBBA)
- The WSA (technology industry trade association for Washington state)