Five questions with Paige Shevlin, Economic Development Policy Advisor

FINAL21. Why did you start as a policy advisor with King County?

When I moved to this area for my husband’s job I considered opportunities across the region including in philanthropy and the private sector but local government appealed to me most. It’s an opportunity to use my federal government experience but have more of a direct impact on people’s lives. King County is especially appealing because it represents the whole region and people live and work across city lines.

2. What do you do in your role?

One clear goal of my position is to coordinate among regional economic development agencies to put emphasis on the regional economy that spans King County. I’m here to help create the understanding of what everyone is doing and how to share these common goals so we can develop ways to support our economic priorities.

3. Why did you choose economic development as your career?

I was always interested in policy and government. In graduate school I had the opportunity to work at the U.S. Department of Labor. Eventually in my career I began working on policies that impacted jobs, education and benefits. In my last position (at the White House) I was able to be a part of the visioning of what job training should look like across the country. I reviewed job placement and training programs to improve them and was able to make connections among departments and economic leaders to create a cohesive economic development strategy using these intersections.

4. What is the biggest challenge of your job?

It can be difficult to have a sense of the right metrics to measure if economic development is improving. The metrics can mean the number of jobs but it can also mean business retention, which is harder to tell so you don’t always know. I’m hoping to work with local leaders to develop a way to track progress so that we can tell if we have a really strong economic development system we need more jobs.

5. What do you enjoy most about it this work?

Jobs are an incredibly important part of people’s lives. Government policies and leadership can help foster an environment in which businesses create more jobs and jobs provide the right kind of programs and benefits that make happy, productive employees. I’m also a big believer in opportunity for everyone and government has a key role to play in addressing training, developing skilled workers and getting people with different backgrounds into programs to create a talented and diverse workforce. I am looking forward to working with regional organizations to coordinate economic development that will expand economic opportunity and equity.