Edward Glaeser uses his NY Times Economix blog to make a fascinating case for the recent transformation of Seattle’s economy chiefly via the consolidation of human capital–a largely local and spatial argument for economic success in a global economy. Citing the UW (along with Microsoft, Starbuck’s, Amazon, etc) as key drivers of the local economy, Glaeser argues that:
A great paradox of our age is that despite the declining cost of connecting across space, more people are clustering together in cities. The explanation of that strange fact is that globalization and technological change have increased the returns on being smart, and humans get smart by being around other smart people.
Dense, smart cities like Seattle succeed by attracting smart people who educate and employ one another.