New York Times reports on Cascadia Innovation Corridor: The Vancouver-Seattle Connection

The New York Times carries an extended story on the proposed Cascadia Innovation Corridor under the headline: Next Big Tech Corridor? Between Seattle and Vancouver, Planners Hope (We might have preferred to see it without the question mark, but we’re not complaining.) Our earlier reports on the corridor are here and here.

NYT reporter Nick Wingfield writes,

Seattle and Vancouver are like fraternal twins separated at birth. Both are bustling Pacific Northwest coastal cities with eco-conscious populations that have accepted the bargain of dispiriting weather for much of the year in exchange for nearby ski slopes and kayaking and glorious summers.

Yet 140 miles of traffic-choked roads and an international border divide the two cities, keeping them farther apart than their geographic and cultural identities would suggest.

Now the political, academic and tech elite of both cities are looking for ways to bring them closer together, with the aim of continuing the growth of two of the most vibrant economies in North America.

The opportunities abound, as we noted in our earlier posts. And, again, we recommend reading this short report from the Boston Consulting Group.

Wingfield reports on why the collaboration makes sense.

…leaders on both sides of the border have motives for getting cozier immediately. American tech icons like Microsoft, with voracious needs for global engineering talent, are expanding their Vancouver offices, partly because of Canada’s smoother immigration process.

For its part, Vancouver wants to bring more American technology companies to the city in hopes of spinning out future entrepreneurs who will expand its comparatively small base of technology companies.

He cites a cost-of-living problem in Vancouver that must be overcome if its tech ambitions are to be realized. Although we’ve known housing costs were high in B.C., this nonetheless surprised us:

The median price for a detached home in the metropolitan area in August was 1.4 million Canadian dollars (about $1.06 million), a 27.8 percent increase from a year earlier, according to the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver. In the San Francisco metropolitan area, the median single family home price was about $848,000, according to Zillow.

 Compounding the affordability problem:

But while median pay for tech-related jobs is $112,000 a year in the San Francisco Bay Area, it is just under $49,000 in Vancouver, according to an analysis by PayScale, a compensation data firm. 

The NYT piece is a good read. And a nice reminder of the positive steps that can be taken when business and governmental leaders embrace cooperation.