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Bellevue Gains an Edge with Its Creative Economy

Bellevue, Washington, decided to invest in its growing creative economy through cultural mapping. By understanding how to better support creative businesses, the city could plan for the sector’s continued expansion.

How Bellevue Jump-Started Its Creative Economy

The City of Bellevue commissioned MDB Insight to conduct a survey of its creative industries and to culturally map the community. To begin, Bellevue defined its goals for the project:

  • Identify how arts, culture, and the creative sector contribute to the economy
  • Build a thriving creative sector
  • Provide support for arts and culture
  • Establish strategic partnerships
  • Identify opportunities to integrate and embed individual artists, cultural organizations, and creative firms into the economy and civic life
  • Develop a creative economy strategy
Creating and implementing a cultural development plan is a means of amplifying a community’s unique strengths. Bellevue knew that it had a strong creative economy, but in quantifying it through a survey and statistical analysis, the city could better support this economic pillar.

A creative economy uses creative ideas or processes to generate goods, services, or innovations that provide economic and aesthetic value.

MDB Insight surveyed members of the creative sector over the phone and in person, collecting data across business types. Participants identified advantages and disadvantages of doing business in Bellevue, and provided data on the growth of their companies.

Data-Driven Findings and Recommendations for Bellevue

MDB Insight documented the survey in a detailed report for Bellevue, which also summarized trends in the data and provided recommendations. To start, the report detailed the growth of the creative industry in Bellevue:

  • image7Employment in creative industries had doubled since 2002
  • Ages 25-34 were the fastest growing cohort in the industry
  • Growth in creative occupations was 3 times that of other sectors
  • 31% of all industries in Bellevue were creative
  • 60% of respondents saw modest or strong business growth year-over-year

The report also contained the cultural mapping of spaces and facilities in Bellevue to highlight where creative industries were clustered and what type of institutions were available to residents. Creative industry participants indicated the advantages and disadvantages of doing business in Bellevue, and MDB Insight analyzed all responses to summarize the most common findings:

Advantages of Bellevue for Creative Industries:

  • Affordable broadband
  • Diverse population
  • Cultural amenities, programs and festivals

Disadvantages of Bellevue for Creative Industries:

  • Lack of affordable workspaces
  • Lack of public transit
  • Lack of recreation programs

Based on the survey responses, data analysis, and trends identified, MDB Insight presented recommendations associated with strategic themes for the development of a creative economy strategy. Bellevue was then in a position to jump-start its planning using the localized data and recommendations.

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