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April 11, 2016

Gates Foundation’s Influence Has Profoundly Changed Seattle

Seattle has been profoundly changed as large health-care companies, research institutes, and other nonprofits and businesses associated with the Gates Foundation have started or moved to the area, The New York Times reports.

Seattle ranks first in the nation in revenue per capita from private foundations, according to the Urban Institute. The investments have led to a convergence of large and propserous nonprofits mostly centered on health research and innovation. A 2015 study by the Washington Global Health Alliance noted that employment related to “global health” accounted for 12,000 jobs in Washington State and nearly $6 billion in economic activity.

Some nonprofits have transformed because of money from philanthropies like the Gates Foundation. For instance, the nonprofit PATH, which started in the mid-1970s as an organization working on family planning, is now the largest nonprofit developer of vaccines, treatments, and medical devices, according to the Times. It receives half of its funding from the Gates Foundation.

“These big philanthropies are changing the city and the region by bringing people in, and so being another magnet for talent,” said Margaret O’Mara, an associate professor of history at the University of Washington.