A convergence zone of ideas.
If you are in Washington long enough, you’ll inevitably hear the term Convergence Zone in a weather forecast. This phenomenon is created when a large amount of marine air tries to flow past the Olympic Mountains. Unable to go over the mountains, it must go around. As the two airstreams meet over the greater Seattle area, unexpected things can happen. It can be sunny in one part, raining just a few miles down the road, and in winter, snowing just across the way.
Collaboration on a collision course
In many respects, you can think of Washington’s economy as a Convergence Zone. Ideas meet, mix and meld in the most unexpected ways. It is a “creative friction” where ideas and innovation happen spontaneously. This friction can converge in the workplace, after work, and on weekends as people engage in the many entertainment and recreational opportunities Washington is famed for. It can occur within an industry or between industries.
Like the weather, the results can be surprising:
- A casual conversation over a double tall latte (skinny, no foam) can spawn a new idea that combines groundbreaking research in a tech lab with an emerging need in healthcare.
- Recent airflow research at an aerospace firm can find its way to a boat builder just down the road, making vessels more efficient in the water.
- An energy company can meet a battery manufacturer CEO at a networking event, resulting in a new smart-grid technology to store energy long-term.
- In Eastern Washington, a farmer may cross paths with a startup testing a new idea for a drone that ends up being just what she needs to monitor crops, apply fertilizers and even ward off pests.
Creating a perfect storm
Our history has shown that the possibilities of this Convergence Zone of ideas, inspiration and innovation are virtually unlimited.
It is what put Washington on the map to begin with. As the state shifted from an economy based on timber and coal, state business leaders gathered to map out a new economic future based on manufacturing and technology. They invested heavily in these industries along with aerospace, commercial space, life science, global health and clean energy. They built the state’s economic future on the shoulders of its proud past, embracing change, conquering the unknown and facing challenges head-on with unbridled energy and determination.
This collaborative, entrepreneurial spirit can be traced back to the state’s earliest days as a European settlement. Some rightfully argue that it came from the indigenous people who lived here thousands of years before that. From these pioneer roots sprang a fiercely independent economy that sought new ways to fix age-old problems. The traditional barriers and borders between businesses – even fierce competitors – never formed as they did in other parts of the country. The work was what was important, not your birthright or bank balance.
To settle in Washington required perseverance, self-sacrifice and tenacity. Everything came from somewhere else, so one had to wait months for the most basic convenience to arrive from ports in the East. Foul weather and shipwrecks created even more uncertainty. Early pioneers had no choice but to rely on each other and the goodwill of the indigenous people for survival. Without this deep culture of cooperation and collaboration, Washington’s economic prosperity would be that of an “also-ran” state that lived on its past glory rather than continually looking to the future and its promise of a better tomorrow.
Bring it on!
Change came at a breakneck pace and was welcomed by residents. While it took the rest of the U.S. almost 50 years to embrace the Industrial Revolution, the transformation in the Washington Territory took a mere 20, leading one reporter to write, “Three years seem like a century in these days of fast living.”
Some of the most iconic products, services and cultural phenomena have emerged from this Convergence Zone. As residents are quick to note, the state put a latte in one hand, a mobile phone in the other, made world travel affordable for middle-class travelers, brought still hearts back to life, and shredded the music world with grunge and Jimi Hendrix. In the process, Washington changed how we communicate, compute, commute and connect, often in the most unexpected ways.
Like its weather-borne cousin, Washington’s economic Convergence Zone continues to surprise the global marketplace in so many unexpected ways. No one can predict what will come from it next, but it will almost surely change the marketplace and, at times, the world.
Got the urge to converge?
Creativity is organic. It is not only driven by internal forces, but by the culture surrounding it. Great minds really do think alike and together they can create amazing things. Washington State is a melting pot of brilliant people who thrive on our culture of innovation and invention. From all walks of life comes a talented, energetic workforce that is passionate about new ideas and getting them to market.
Find out how you can take your business to the next level in Washington State by contacting one of our business experts right now!
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