Smarty pants? Someone thinks so.

People in Seattle like to think they’re smart, but now a Forbes survey has confirmed that indeed they are, at least in certain respects.

Using a Smart Cities Wheel that is based on the six key components of smart cities – Smart Economy, Smart Environment, Smart Governance, Smart Living, Smart Mobility and Smart People – Seattle grabbed the #3 spot, just behind Boston and San Francisco.

According to the rankings, Seattle was ranked in the top three in four of these categories. It was #1 in governance, thanks to the fact that the city was the first to develop an e-government strategy way back in 2004. It has led the way in doing such innovative and “smart” things as using RFIDs to track waste and Twitter to let people know about stolen cars. The city also ranked well in Smart Economy, which considered such things as economic performance, employment, population and income. And of course, the city was in the pink when it came to being green, being an early adopter of sustainable stewardship of the environment.

If you’re curious who ranked behind Seattle, the rest of the list goes like this: Vancouver B.C. (#4), New York City (#5), Washington D.C (#6), Toronto (#7), Chicago (#8), Los Angeles (#9) and Montreal (#10).

Now someone needs to do a study to see if double tall lattes are brain food.

I’d like the lobster bisque for two.

Amazon.com has revolutionized online retailing over the years, but what does it have in store for those dying for a delicious burger or donuts delivered right to their doorstep.

The answer is Amazon Fresh. Yes, if you live in Seattle then you already know they delivery groceries. They have for quite some time. But through their new delivery program, Seattle Spotlight, Puget Sound residents can dine on sumptuous New England Clam Chowder from Pike Place Chowder or ready-to-cook Fried Chicken Sammys from Skillet. So far, 35 restaurants have partnered with Amazon to offer menu items for delivery, including La Spiga, Schwartz Brothers Bakery, Gretchen’s Shoebox Express and Top Pot Doughnuts.

The prices are pretty reasonable, too, especially for delivery. In many cases you can order as late as 3 p.m. and still get a delivery bright and early the next morning. A 32 oz. container of clam chowder for instance will run you $13.95. Beecher’s legendary Mac & Cheese will run you $8.95 for the 12 oz. size.

If you’re a regular Amazon Fresh customer, you can get the restaurant meals added to your regular grocer order too, so you can take a break from cooking and enjoy a meal from your favorite restaurant without having to fight the elements or the traffic.

Check out the service, offerings and restaurants for Seattle Spotlight.

 

 

And those electric cars keep rolling along.

Here for a little more than a year, SGL/BMW’s Moses Lake facility already appears to be bursting at the seams. With the roll out of the new i3 series of cars at the Los Angeles Auto Show this week, the company announced that it will be adding a second production line to its 110,308 square foot factory in eastern Washington. The new line will allow the company to increase its composites capacity to 3,000 tons a year.

The new i-series cars are the first BMWs to use carbon fiber produced using green energy. The lightweight material helps offset the weight of the batteries used to power the car. The i3 uses lithium ion batteries and an electric motor to provide power. The BMW i3 can get 100 miles on a single charge, similar to other cars coming on the market.

The Moses Lake production plant was a major coup for the state, showing that is has become a major player in advanced materials and advanced manufacturing. The low-cost energy provided by Grant County PUD is one of the reasons why BMW/SGL chose Washington State.

HBO is coming to town…

O.K, so it’s supposed to be Santa who’s coming to town, but Washington State got a present a bit early with the announcement that HBO will be opening a new tech office in Seattle, not Silicon Valley.

The company announced that two former Microsoft employees will be running the innovation center, which will focus on creating new services for the company, including the HBO Go service, which streams video to subscribers.

Of course, HBO isn’t the first tech company to open an office here. Facebook, Google, Salesforce and Zynga also have a presence. Washington and Seattle in particular seem to be the darling of the tech world right now, with a large talent pool and a steady supply of recruits drawn to the area by the quality of life and opportunities to get in on the ground floor of new technologies.

Another advantage is the close proximity the Puget Sound region has with Silicon Valley, San Jose and Silicon Valley. It’s easy for companies to open a Seattle office to provide some spirited competition between technology teams. The flow of ideas, technology and people has even caused the run between the Bay Area and Seattle to be dubbed the “nerd bird” by technology workers.

The new office will be led by Otto Berkes, who was involved with the launch of the Xbox game console and Drew Angeloff, who left Microsoft earlier this year.

Pioneer Square area of Seattle begins renaissance.

Once the center of commerce in Seattle’s pioneer days, Pioneer Square has come full circle, thanks in part to new incubators, start-ups and the Bainbridge Graduate Institute’s new HUB Seattle facility. Other businesses are following suit, driven by the opportunity to reinvent this once bustling part of town.

Entrepreneurs and business people alike are taking a chance on Pioneer Square, including chef Matt Dillon, who will be opening Bar Sajor in December. He is partnering with Katherine Anderson on another new Pioneer Square venture, London Plane, which will be part bakery, florist and café offering sit down and takeout meals. Indigene is another new idea, which will be a private meeting space that serves wine and art up to visitors. Not far from it will be a new butcher shop slated to open in February.

Part of the rush is to establish businesses in the area before the Viaduct is taken down. It’s expected that the area will enjoy new life, exploding with new housing and retail projects in its place. A new 700 unit apartment project near CenturyLink Field is already underway and several hundred other new apartment buildings are on the drawing boards.

Want to know more about potential business opportunities in the historic Pioneer Square district? Visit this link.

 

One more thing… a real keyboard for a smartphone.

Robert Solomon has already made a name for himself in tech. If the name doesn’t sound familiar, then perhaps the company he founded, Datadesk Technologies, rings a bell. It created one of the bestselling Mac accessories of all time – the MAC-101 keyboard.

Now, Robert and his son Cody are about to revolutionize the smartphone market as well through their new company, SoloMatrix. The company has built a prototype of a new type of iPhone case, one that has a flippable keyboard built right into it.

The touchscreen keyboard has always been problematic for many users. SoloMatrix’s new Spike keyboards are the first of their kind. You don’t even need to connect it via Bluetooth. And because it doesn’t require a battery, it can be built right into the phone’s protective case.

Marketed under the Spike brand, the new TypeSmart keyboards are supposed to make it easier and more organic to type messages, even if you’re wearing gloves. The keyboard cases range from $35 to $60 and pre-orders are already being accepted on SoloMatrix’s website.

The company’s in pre-production right now on their new line Spike keyboards. The iPhone 4 version is slated to be released in February with the iPhone 5 model not far behind.

The new keyboard design has already created a sensation. It has received rave reviews from several tech blogs and publications and was a finalist for the most innovative product at the Consumer Electronic Association’s line show in New York City. The company netted more than the $75,000 it had sought on Kickstarter so that tooling and production could begin.

Microsoft’s next data center is off the grid.

Sewage gas may be driving some data centers of the future, at least if Microsoft’s research into sustainable data centers pays off. The Redmond-based company will begin testing the concept at a wastewater treatment plant in Wyoming sometime in 2013. A biogas-powered fuel cell connected to the plant will run a mobile data center as a proof of concept.

The Data Plant is the first data center that doesn’t have a carbon footprint and will run independently from the established power grid. The hope is that the center will be the first of many smaller data centers that can recycle common waste products to power cloud services in communities. The $5.5 million plan will study new methods for providing economical power from biogas, which is a by-product of wastewater treatment plants, landfills and farms.

Find out more about Microsoft’s innovative new data center concept.

Sealy makes its bed in Lacey.

Sealy® has announced that it is opening its newest mattress manufacturing plant in Lacey in April 2013. When ready, the new plant will provide the area with more than 100 good paying jobs.

Washington’s Department of Commerce, the Thurston County EDC and Sealy put together the deal, helping the company find the right location. The EDC did an extensive location analysis for Sealy, working closely with the company to find just the right locale for the new plant.

Because of the tight time schedule, the company hopes to start hiring in the next several weeks.

“We are pleased to welcome Sealy’s new manufacturing facility to the state of Washington.  The newly created jobs will bolster the local economy in Lacey, said Leigh Felton, Assistant Director of the Business Services Division at Washington State Department of Commerce. “Sealy is a world class company and we are happy to have them join the family of companies who find Washington a great place to do business.”

The new plant is located in the former Spring Air factory on Willamette Drive. The new facility will manufacture top end mattresses for sale throughout the U.S.

New acquisition fits Starbucks’ plan to a tea.

 

Starbucks has announced plans to do for tea what it did for espresso 30 years ago, and according to CEO and President Howard Shultz, Teavana is the perfect fit. Starbucks purchased the 300-store chain this week, planning to capitalize on its extensive knowledge of tea, broad offerings and commitment to quality that makes it a perfect fit with Starbuck’s brand and culture.

The acquisition gives Starbucks a solid foothold in the $40 billion global market for tea. The company plans to expand the brand’s footprint, extending it into neighborhoods as well as area malls and consumer products. The company has also ventured into international markets, opening its first store in the Middle East. The purchase comes close on the heels of another major acquisition in the tea market, Tazo, which opened its first store in Seattle’s University Village this week.

The company hopes that it can rapidly expand Teavana using its existing infrastructure, purchasing power and store design and operations experience, which propelled the Washington State based company into the rarified realm of “business legend.”

Starbucks paid $630 million in cash for the company and the deal is expected to close by year’s end, pending regulatory approval.

You can find out more about Teavana on the company’s website.

 

Read more about the Teavana acquisition at Bevnet.

A pepperoni-powered expansion for Oberto.

Nashville may be known for country music, but it’s about to get a new claim to fame – the first expansion by the Washington State’s Oberto Company.

The new facility will join its kissin’ cousin in Kent, Washington, where the company currently produces all its snack products. The company has been a Northwest favorite since 1918.

The company needed to expand to meet growing demand for its products nationally. The decision to create all-natural versions of its products has caused sales to double in the last few years with no let up in sight. In addition to the Oh Boy, Oberto! brand, the company also sells Lowrey’s Meat Snacks and Pacific Gold Beef Jerky.

The new facility will allow the company to continue to produce its products in the U.S., something Oberto committed to doing in 2010 after a brief flirtation with overseas production, said Tom Ennis, CEO. All Oberto products are now made in the U.S.A.

Since the company’s products are focused on being all-natural, proximity of production to markets is essential and the new Nashville plant allows Oberto to continue to expand its presence east of the Mississippi.

Oberto was started by an Italian immigrant family in pursuit of the American dream and the family is still involved in the business as well as the community. Oberto is a big sponsor of local teams and events, which often feature a visit by Art Oberto, the 85-year-old son of the company’s founder.