Donald Trump Jr. and his brother Eric visit Vancouver, B.C., on Tuesday to open a new Trump International Hotel & Tower, to the dismay of many locals. Also: New Zealand is beckoning U.S. tech workers, and Seattleites are answering. And, Microsoft backs a UW-UBC collaboration.
Ready or not, Cascadia — the Trump Organization is planting its flag high atop a tower deep within your borders.
On Tuesday it will formally open the West Coast’s first Trump International Hotel & Tower in Vancouver, B.C., paying little heed to the long-running clamor from unwelcoming natives.
Donald Trump Jr. and his brother Eric will be there to celebrate, although the project’s namesake apparently will be otherwise engaged.
One of the tower’s most outspoken local critics is Vancouver City Council Member Kerry Jang, who says that because of President Donald Trump’s policies and rhetoric, the building “has become the beacon of racism and the tower of intolerance.”
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The condominium and hotel project is a distinctive, twisting edifice said to be Vancouver’s second-tallest building. Depending on the news release, its height is variously reported as 63 stories or 69.
The Malaysian company that built the tower, licensing the Trump name and hiring Trump Hotels to run the lodging, said the building’s sold-out condo residences were its most profitable project ever, according to The New York Times.
A number that’s not in the news releases: More than 4,000 people have signed up on the two Facebook pages organizing twin morning and evening protests for the opening day.
Seemingly everyone from British Columbia Premier Christy Clark on down has condemned the project’s association with Donald Trump. And that’s not just a postelection thing.
“Vancouver mayor asks developer to dump Donald Trump’s name from city tower,” read the Globe and Mail headline on a December 2015 story that noted a petition along the same lines had gathered 50,000 signatures.
Mayor Gregor Robinson’s message was fairly pointed: “Trump’s name and brand have no more place on Vancouver’s skyline than his ignorant ideas have in the modern world,’’ he wrote. Not surprisingly, the Vancouver paper reported this week that Robertson won’t be attending the opening.
Jang said in an interview that initially Vancouverites viewed the project unfavorably simply because of the “high-end glitz and glamour that is Trump, and all the tawdriness that comes with it.”
But as Trump’s presidential campaign gathered steam and eventually triumphed, his rhetoric on immigration and “all these sexist comments” further soured local residents, Jang said.
He argues the Trump name wasn’t a big plus in marketing the condos, given Vancouver’s overheated real-estate market. “You could have named that building after me and you would have sold out.”
Jang, whose grandparents immigrated from China, said Vancouver is “incredibly diverse.” Forty-eight percent of the population is foreign born, and the city has Canada’s highest rate of racial and religious intermarriage.
The upshot: “I don’t think I’ve met anyone in Vancouver who thinks Trump Tower is a good idea.”
Of course, the hotel’s official debut will raise other concerns for Trump critics in the U.S.: Will foreign governments — or American businesspeople — book rooms that start at about $325 (U.S.) per night to win favor with Trump? Will the Trump Organization’s Malaysian business partner, also at work on a Trump Hotel back home, influence the president’s outlook on that key corner of the world?
For Seattle, something else may be in play: Trump Hotels CEO Eric Danziger said last month the company is eyeing new luxury projects in cities including Dallas, Denver, San Francisco — and Seattle. How our neighbor to the north greets the new Trump International may influence the company’s interest in opening here.
Jang says that so far, protests at the site “have been typically Canadian,” meaning low key, but he predicts that even beyond Tuesday’s opening, security will be an ongoing concern.
— Rami Grunbaum: firstname.lastname@example.org
New Zealand hunts local tech workers
The hunt for talented technical workers has driven companies to offer increasingly extravagant perks to candidates — even, in one case, a Tesla Model 3 that one Seattle companybought for new hires.
Now, an entire city is stepping up the game by offering an international vacation complete with job interviews, followed by a move to a new country — and some Seattle tech workers are biting.
An organization in Wellington, the capital of New Zealand, has launched the LookSee Wellington program to attract workers to fuel the growing tech industry in the country. A hundred candidates chosen through an application process will be flown to the city, put through arranged job interviews and given tours of the area.
Waiting at the end of the process will be job offers for those who are ready to move, according to the Wellington Regional Economic Development Agency, which is putting on the program.
Wellington’s prospects and outdoor attractions — think biking, paddle boarding and windsurfing — seem to be striking a chord with Seattle candidates.
About 20 tech workers from Seattle have applied during LookSee Wellington’s first week accepting applications. So far, 1,000 people have applied, including 200 from the U.S.
Seattle is the third-biggest source of U.S. applications, outpaced only by New York and San Francisco.
The economic development agency touts Wellington’s high concentration of bars and restaurants, plus its thousands of miles of bike trails and long list of galleries and museums.
The most attractive attribute for Seattleites, though, might be its 2,000 hours of sunshine each year. In case you were curious, it is currently 77 degrees and sunny in Wellington.
— Rachel Lerman: email@example.com
Cascadia research gets Microsoft boost
Microsoft’s effort to nudge Seattle and Vancouver, B.C., a bit closer together got an endorsement Thursday from the leading university in each city.
The University of Washington and the University of British Columbia announced the establishment of a joint data-science research unit, called the Cascadia Urban Analytics Cooperative, funded by a $1 million grant from Microsoft.
The collaboration will support study of shared urban issues, from health to transit to homelessness, drawing on faculty and student input.
The partnership has its roots in a September conference in Vancouver organized by Microsoft’s public affairs and lobbying unit. That gathering was aimed at tying business, government and educational institutions in Microsoft’s home region in the Seattle area closer to its Canadian neighbor.
Microsoft last year opened an expanded office in downtown Vancouver with space for 750 employees, an outpost partly designed to draw to the Northwest more engineers than the company can get through the U.S. guest worker system.
“We left the conference in September very, very excited about the possibilities,” UW President Ana Mari Cauce said on a conference call to discuss the partnership.
Meetings between researchers and administrators from UW and UBC followed in the months afterward, she said. Later, they submitted a joint proposal to Microsoft.
The collaboration will start with a summer program on data science for social good, building on an existing program by the UW eScience Institute.
The UW will also host a cross-border symposium later this year, and the cooperative will support joint research between students and scholars at both universities.
The deal adds an educational component to the governmental ties that came from last year’s conference.
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and B.C. Premier Christy Clark then signed a memorandum of understanding to work together on a variety of cross-border issues.
“One of the things that was very clear at the conference is the kinds of problems that both our cities, and cities across the world, are facing are really too complex for anybody to tackle on their own,” Cauce said.
Microsoft President Brad Smith said he hopes the donation “will serve as a strong catalyst for additional interaction” between the two regions.
UBC President Santa Ono called the investment “transformative.”
Down the line, Ono joked, the two cities can compare rival seafood scenes — perhaps someday after a quick ride between Vancouver and Seattle on a hyperloop.
“I’m with ya,” Cauce said.
— Matt Day: firstname.lastname@example.org