Seattle's economy is driven by a mix of older industrial companies, and "new economy" Internet and technology companies, service, design and clean technology companies. The Port of Seattle is a major economic engine. Though it has been affected by the recent recession, Seattle has retained a comparatively strong economy, and remains a hotbed for start-up businesses, especially in green building and clean technologies: it was ranked as America's 1 "smarter city" based on its government policies and green economy. The Seattle housing market, especially in center-city neighborhoods, has not seen the sort of drop in value most housing markets around the nation have seen in recent years. The Seattle region's economy is increasingly diverse and multi-sectoral.

Still, very large companies dominate the business landscape. Six companies on the 2008 Fortune 500 list of the United States' largest companies, based on total revenue are headquartered in Seattle: former financial services company Washington Mutual (the banking business of which is now part of JPMorgan Chase) , Internet retailer, coffee chain Starbucks, department store Nordstrom, insurance company Safeco, and global logistics firm Expeditors International. However, in April 2008, the sale of Safeco to Liberty Mutual Group was announced and in September 2008, Washington Mutual was seized by the FDIC and was sold to JPMorgan Chase. Other Fortune 500 companies popularly associated with Seattle are based in nearby Puget Sound cities. Warehouse club chain Costco, the largest company in Washington, is based in Issaquah. Microsoft and Nintendo of America are located in Redmond. Weyerhaeuser, the forest products company, is based in Federal Way. Finally, Bellevue is home to truck manufacturer PACCAR, and to international mobile telephony giant T-Mobile's U.S. subsidiary, T-Mobile USA.

Prior to moving its headquarters to Chicago, aerospace manufacturer Boeing was the largest company based in Seattle. Its largest division is still headquartered in nearby Renton, and the company has large aircraft manufacturing plants in Everett and Renton, so it remains the largest private employer in the Seattle metropolitan area. Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels announced a desire to spark a new economic boom driven by the biotechnology industry in 2006. Major redevelopment of the South Lake Union neighborhood is underway, in an effort to attract new and established biotech companies to the city, joining biotech companies Corixa (acquired by GlaxoSmithKline), Immunex (now part of Amgen), Trubion, and ZymoGenetics. Vulcan Inc., the holding company of billionaire Paul Allen, is behind most of the development projects in the region. While some see the new development as an economic boon, others have criticized Nickels and the Seattle City Council for pandering to Allen's interests at taxpayers' expense.[180] Also in 2006, Expansion Magazine ranked Seattle among the top 10 metropolitan areas in the nation for climates favorable to business expansion.[181] In 2005, Forbes ranked Seattle as the most expensive American city for buying a house based on the local income levels.

Alaska Airlines, operating a hub at Seattle -Tacoma International Airport, maintains its headquarters in the city of SeaTac, next to the airport.

Luciano Mende

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