EconomySee also: List of companies based in Seattle
Seattle's economy is driven by a mix of older industrial companies, and "new economy" Internet and technology companies, service, design and clean technology companies. The city's gross metropolitan product was $231 billion in 2010, making it the 12th largest metropolitan economy in the United States. The Port of Seattle, which also operates Seattle–Tacoma International Airport, is a major gateway for trade with Asia and cruises to Alaska, and is the 8th largest port in the United States in terms of container capacity. Though it has been affected by the recent recession, Seattle has retained a comparatively strong economy, and remains a hotbed for start-up businesses, especially in green building and clean technologies: it was ranked as America's No. 1 "smarter city" based on its government policies and green economy. February 2010, the city government committed Seattle to becoming North America's first "climate neutral" city, with a goal of reaching zero net per capita greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.
Still, very large companies dominate the business landscape. Four companies on the 2008 Fortune 500 list of the United States' largest companies, based on total revenue are headquartered in Seattle: Internet retailer Amazon.com (#100), coffee chain Starbucks (#241), department store Nordstrom (#270), and freight forwarder Expeditors International of Washington (#458). Other Fortune 500 companies popularly associated with Seattle are based in nearby Puget Sound cities. Warehouse club chain Costco (#29), the largest retail company in Washington, is based in Issaquah. Providence Health & Services, the largest health care system and the fifth largest employer, is based in Renton, Washington. Microsoft (#44) and Nintendo of America are located in Redmond. Weyerhaeuser, the forest products company (#147), is based in Federal Way. Finally, Bellevue is home to truck manufacturer PACCAR (#169), and to international mobile telephony giant T-Mobile's U.S. subsidiary, T-Mobile USA. The city has a reputation for heavy coffee consumption; coffee companies founded or based in Seattle include Starbucks, Seattle's Best Coffee, and Tully's. There are also many successful independent artisanal espresso roasters and cafes.
Prior to moving its headquarters to Chicago, aerospace manufacturer Boeing (#27) was the largest company based in Seattle. Its largest division is still headquartered in nearby Renton, and the company has large aircraft manufacturing plants in Everett and Renton, so it remains the largest private employer in the Seattle metropolitan area. Former Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels announced a desire to spark a new economic boom driven by the biotechnology industry in 2006. Major redevelopment of the South Lake Union neighborhood is underway, in an effort to attract new and established biotech companies to the city, joining biotech companies Corixa (acquired by GlaxoSmithKline), Immunex (now part of Amgen), Trubion, and ZymoGenetics. Vulcan Inc., the holding company of billionaire Paul Allen, is behind most of the development projects in the region. While some see the new development as an economic boon, others have criticized Nickels and the Seattle City Council for pandering to Allen's interests at taxpayers' expense. Also in 2006, Expansion Magazine ranked Seattle among the top 10 metropolitan areas in the nation for climates favorable to business expansion. In 2005, Forbes ranked Seattle as the most expensive American city for buying a house based on the local income levels.
Alaska Airlines, operating a hub at Seattle–Tacoma International Airport, maintains its headquarters in the city of SeaTac, next to the airport.
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“I favor the policy of economy, not because I wish to save money, but because I wish to save people. The men and women of this country who toil are the ones who bear the cost of the Government. Every dollar that we carelessly waste means that their life will be so much the more meager. Every dollar that we prudently save means that their life will be so much the more abundant. Economy is idealism in its most practical terms.”
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