Seattle area’s economic boom splashes over the Cascades, bringing work and worries

My latest in The Seattle Times 

For Subsplash, a small Seattle-based maker of social apps for churches, the decision to open a second campus in Wenatchee this fall was easy. The Central Washington town has better weather than Seattle. It boasts fast internet, lower labor costs and business-friendly government: Subsplash’s new offices are in a city-sponsored business “incubator” in the popular Pybus Public Market overlooking the Columbia River. And, of course, Wenatchee has much cheaper housing. The median price for a home is $325,000, or less than half of that in Seattle.

As Phil Goodman, head of human resources at Subsplash, put it recently, “Wenatchee is kind of our HQ2.”

But not everyone in Wenatchee is so excited to see the newcomers. At a local hiring fair this spring, as Goodman was telling locals how glad he was to see businesses “coming over [from Seattle] to Wenatchee and providing jobs,” he got some good-natured pushback.

“There were a few people who were like, ‘Well, hold on, don’t tell too many people. We don’t want too many companies over here,’ ” he recalled.

It’s a common refrain across much of Central Washington these days. As eager as towns like Wenatchee, Chelan and Cle Elum are for new industry and high-wage jobs, many residents also wonder what these urban “refugees” will mean for communities that are often already struggling with big-city growing pains.

Read the article in The Seattle Times