• Via Russell Investments

The guest Slog post is by Jon Scholes, the Downtown Seattle Association's Vice President of Advocacy and Economic Development.

The City Council should not delay adopting legislation to allow building signage that will attract employers and distinguish Seattle’s economic brand.

The legislation before the City Council is not about whether to allow signs atop buildings in Seattle. Currently, signs are permitted on public buildings, hotels and atop private buildings in areas outside of downtown.

This legislation is also not about whether we will turn Downtown into Times Square, Shanghai, Las Vegas or any of the other cities that opponents of the legislation have pointed to with a certain amount of hyperbole. The design, size, and lighting standards in the legislation are very clear: no blinking signs; no flashing signs; no rotating signs; and only employers that occupy at least 200,000 square feet of office space would be eligible. The Seattle Design Commission must also be consulted before signs are approved.

This issue is about whether Seattle is willing to embrace and celebrate the large employers that have put a stake in the ground in our community and whether city leaders are willing to acknowledge the importance of distinguishing Seattle’s economic brand.

Between 2000 and 2009, Seattle lost over 30,000 jobs while suburban areas outside of Seattle (within King County) added approximately 15,000 jobs. Seattle needs to reverse this trend if we are serious about combating climate change and meeting the goals of the city's Comprehensive Plan (to say nothing about providing economic opportunity for residents).

More after the jump.

Building signs clearly matter to some companies, particularly those looking to identify their headquarter location. San Francisco, Salt Lake City, Denver and other large Washington cities all permit signage above Seattle’s 65 foot height limit.

Today, Seattle is in the midst of somewhat of an economic identity crisis. We’re often credited as the home of Costco, Microsoft, and other large companies that are important to our region, but headquartered outside the city limits. Being the largest city in the region, “Seattle” routinely gets the national press and praise from the likes of Fast Company and other national publications, while surrounding communities have been getting the jobs.

The decision in front of the city council is as much about whether city leaders are willing to embrace and promote Seattle’s unique economic brand as it is about a large employer’s ability to identify itself on the building they occupy.

With the collapse of WAMU, a declining number of Fortune 500 companies calling Seattle home and job loss to the suburbs, it’s time for Seattle to reassert its own economic identity and focus on attracting new employers.