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Federal Way economy wins with diving trials | Andy Hobbs
Last week, Federal Way hosted the U.S. Olympic Trials — Diving.
Some of the world's best divers competed for slots in the 2012 Olympics in London. Greg Louganis, perhaps the best American diver in history, watched from the stands.
Federal Way earned exposure in media outlets nationwide, from NBC and ESPN to metro dailies like the Washington Post and Miami Herald. Smaller newspapers and college publications reported on their local divers.
Diving may not have mass appeal, but in this case, diving brought Federal Way to the masses. The city spent $140,000 to secure and promote the event. That money put Federal Way on the diving world's map for a week. Interest in diving may only be a few feet wide, but it's a mile deep.
With help from a world-class aquatic center in our own backyard, Federal Way strengthened its bond with the diving world.
The city is fortunate to appear on the map for any niche group. For another example, consider the sand sculpting championships, held the past two summers. The sculptors live and breathe sand, building their lives around nomadic art. When the world championships debuted in Federal Way back in 2010, the sculptors became the novelty story du jour. Media from across the nation turned Federal Way into a blip on their radars.
Federal Way connected with the sand sculpting cult, and in the process, attracted hundreds of curious onlookers.
The national stage urges the people of Federal Way to take a closer look at their community. The diving trials and sand sculptures prompted people both inside and outside the city's walls to talk about Federal Way, even if only in passing.
People and cities must compete for attention. Federal Way has created opportunities deemed worthy of people's attention, if only for a moment.
Cities are obsessed with economic development, and Federal Way is no different. It is time to change the way Federal Way thinks about the term economic development. For such a critical concept to a city's health, the term sounds dry and directionless.
Economic development should be relabeled as opportunity creation. With the diving trials, the city created an opportunity for visitors near and far to come stay and play. The city created an opportunity for divers to achieve their Olympic dreams in a world-class swimming pool. In fact, the construction of the King County Aquatic Center itself, more than 20 years ago, is a creation that keeps on giving.
The result? National media exposure, busy hotels and restaurants, millions of dollars for the local economy — and blueprints for creating more opportunities.