Most people are familiar with the Washington State Convention Center because it hosts a large variety of meetings, events, and conventions. That is the primary role it plays – the Center provides a venue in which people gather from around the region, the nation and the world to share ideas, celebrate and learn.
But its role goes well beyond that. The Center has a responsibility to positively impact the lives of those in our region and beyond, advancing the common good. The legacy of our civic actions for the community holds as true today as it began 32 years ago. Expand the sections below to learn more.
We support actions that propel equality and help to quell injustice in all instances and situations, because it is the right thing to do, whether it is identified as “Black Lives Matter” or any other legitimate social justice movement. As a leader in the convention center industry, we strive to create event environments in which all individuals and groups feel welcome, safe, respected, supported, and valued, and we are honored to facilitate richer connections and broader perspectives. Read the full Inclusion and Equality Statement here.
We set measurable goals for minority- and women-owned business (MWBE) participation in our procurement and contracts, and we equitably distribute economic benefits. As we grow our staff to service two convention center buildings, we look to improve these efforts for recruitment, training, promotion, and outreach at all levels of the organization.
The Addition project illustrates our fully voluntary commitment to diversity and inclusion, not mandated by any jurisdiction: In 2018, the WSCC Board of Directors set a goal of $80 million in participation by WMBE firms, but the actual commitment grew to over $128 million by December 2020. Read more here.
To build the Summit building, the Center requested the City of Seattle vacate three alleys and underground portions of Olive Way and Terry Avenue. In exchange, the Center paid full market value of that land as well as providing a package of investments for the community.
The value of these investments totaled more than $93 million and included substantial funding for affordable housing, parks and open spaces, improvements to Pike and Pine between downtown and Capitol Hill, bicycle infrastructure, a lid I-5 study, and more.
Nearly $40 million of WSCC’s community investments has been provided to address the affordable housing crisis. This includes $4.3 million toward affordable housing through the City’s Incentive Zoning program, $5 million to King County for affordable housing and $330,000 to Plymouth Housing Group for additional development rights. The remaining $30 million went to the Seattle Office of Housing’s pooled resources, which have funded nearly 3,000 affordable-housing units.
Seattle Parks and Recreation also benefited from the public benefits package. It received $10 million in funding for Jim Ellis Freeway Park improvements, including $750,000 for activation within the park and $9,250,000 dedicated to capital improvements which include actual construction, as well as design and project management, permitting, sales tax and contingencies.
The Center’s culinary team carefully plans each event’s food and beverage menu to ensure the least possible waste. There are times, though, when surplus food is inevitable, and the WSCC kitchen will share and donate to local food kitchens where possible including FareStart, a culinary job training and placement program for disadvantaged adults and youth. WSCC’s donations help reduce food costs for others, allowing them to prepare and distribute quality food that would otherwise go to waste. Sharing with the community has been a tradition since opening doors in 1988.
Also, when possible, WSCC makes donations of surplus equipment to charitable organizations combating homelessness and other issues, and when meeting planners leave behind convention items, our event managers and staff let them know that we will work to donate them to local organizations on their behalf.
The Center’s long history of environmentally sustainable practices dates back decades.
Sustainable Food & Beverages
When feasible, the WSCC kitchen staff purchases locally sourced, in-season sustainable products. Buying local supports regional producers and cuts down on our carbon footprint as shipping distances are greatly reduced. In addition to many of our food products being grown or produced in Washington and/or the Pacific Northwest, over 98% of the wines we serve are from Washington’s acclaimed wineries. All the contents and packaging of our boxed lunches and all disposable food service items (cups, plates, cutlery and coffee stir sticks) are 100% compostable. Read more at Sustainability Fact Sheet: Food and Beverage.
Sustainable Facilities and Practices
From LEED Certification and waste minimization to adopting renewable resources, we’ve explored every opportunity to implement protocols that are kinder to the environment. For example, our waste diversion rate of 78% (in a typical year) ranks in the top 5% of businesses nationwide, and we’ve installed water bubblers, resulting in 100,000 fewer plastic water bottles being used. We’ve also converted over 1,000 400-watt metal halide bulbs to 100- and 140-watt LED bulbs, saving an estimated 244,811 kWh per year. Read more at Sustainability Fact Sheet: Facilities and Practices.
The Center holds itself accountable for how it does business and how it interacts with its community in order to successfully fulfill its role as a strong civic partner. Apprenticeships and internships are part of that responsibility, as they provide career opportunities to people of various economic backgrounds and has the long-term benefit of expanding the diversity of the workforce.
At the Addition project, construction apprentices represent 18% of the workforce in 2021, 36% of which are minorities and 11% are women.
Furthermore, the Center’s summer internship program aims to expose college students to every aspect of the convention center business while helping them to develop the essential technical and interpersonal skills for a career in the hospitality industry. The Center has also developed alliances with schools across the region to build awareness of potential career paths for students seeking career opportunities in hospitality.
We are also the proud sponsor of an educational scholarship that focuses on helping minority students studying in fields supporting the hospitality industry.