When Mark Manuel’s family moved to Washington State in 1991, Bellevue had a certain reputation.
“All I can remember about Bellevue growing up was, it’s white and it’s rich, you know, there’s no real reason to go across the bridge,” said Manuel.
Today, the city is a lot different than the Bellevue of Manuel’s youth. Half the population is made up of people of color, according to the latest Census data.
Many of the newcomers are foreign born. They make up 39 percent of the population. Two-thirds of them came from Asia.
Manuel is the Diversity Outreach and Engagement Administrator for the City of Bellevue. He says in 2014 Bellevue launched an initiative to improve services by factoring in this new diversity. Take emergency preparedness and management.
“In case of a natural disaster where we have to mobilize a lot of folks,” said Manuel. “How is this information about disaster preparedness going out when you’ve got so many languages that are spoken here?”
Manuel says there will be more steps to come as the city beefs up its connection with its diverse community.
Bellevue joins other cities with large minority populations, including SeaTac, Tukwila and Fife.