A Seattle-Based Family Business Institute for the Pacific Northwest

Seattle University’s Family Business Exchange (FBX) is a community of Pacific Northwest family business owners who gather to engage in education, networking, and professional development tailored specifically to their needs. 

FBX provides opportunities for families to address their unique challenges through relevant programming. It serves as a forum for information exchange with the goal of helping each member thrive through future generations. Areas of best practice that we cover include family business succession planning, governance, leadership development and growth, among others.

Pike Place Market in Seattle

Importance of the Family Business in Entrepreneurship

According to the Journal of Family Business Strategy (2021), the family business is the most ubiquitous form of business structure in the world, by some estimates making up more than 70% of all businesses globally.

The Pacific Northwest is a region with a significant family business presence. According to OnDeck’s analysis of the US Census Bureau’s Annual Business Survey, 35.6% of businesses in Washington state alone are family-owned while 32.5% are owned by spouses.

Entrepreneurs are experts at leveraging limited resources to create value and overcome challenges. This is nowhere truer than within the family firm, where personal capital, rather than secondary market capital, must be deployed to maintain and grow the business. This requires a keen strategic sense of innovation, optimization, and agility, yet family firms are often overlooked in the field of entrepreneurship. This is why FBX was formed.

Helmed by an Acclaimed Innovation & Entrepreneurship Center

Since 1990, Seattle University’s Innovation & Entrepreneurship Center (IEC), housed in the Albers School of Business and Economics, engages and serves hundreds of students, alumni, volunteers, and local businesses in accelerating entrepreneurship for the common good. 

IEC Executive Director Peter Rowan previously led the Pacific Asian Center for Entrepreneurship (PACE) at the University of Hawai’i’ at Manoa’s Shidler College of Business. PACE runs the Family Business Center of Hawai’i which was created in 1995 to equip, educate, and celebrate Hawai’ian families in business. He brings his considerable knowledge and experience of running this center to FBX.

Father and son in farm field

Confidentiality First and Always

Families can be complicated. Working with family members can add an extra layer of complexity. To encourage openness and trust, FBX does not record meetings, nor does it share any information publicly without the express permission of the members providing it. 

We also deliberately limit attendance of non-family business individuals at FBX events with the exception of vetted partners we have worked with throughout the years: Assured Partners, Clark Nuber, and Perkins Coie. The three firms are well known for their expertise and discretion in servicing family businesses of all sizes.

Siblings at a coffee shop

Join our Fall Event About Family Business Succession Planning

Succession is a common concern for family businesses judging by the volume of search engine queries on ‘family business succession problems’, ‘3rd generation family business failure’, and ‘2nd generation family business examples’.

That’s why we’re inviting area family businesses to hear the latest in best practice for succession planning at this exclusive event:

Bridging the Gap: Cultivating the Next Generation

  • Thursday, November 3rd, 2022
  • 5-7 p.m.
  • Casey Commons
  • 5th Floor, Room 530
  • Casey Building
  • Seattle University, 901 12th Avenue, Seattle, WA 98122

Learn from Wellth Works co-founder Ella Chase, herself a sixth-generation asset recipient from a hundred-year-plus family, about the challenges of family business succession planning and effective ways to address them.

We will also have Dr. Monika Hudson of the University of San Francisco’s (USF) Gellert Family Business Center to share her research findings along with one of her colleagues. USF is a partner institution of Seattle University and the Gellert Family Business Center is a knowledge hub for San Francisco-based family businesses.

Please note that space is limited and family businesses will be given first priority in attending this event. 



Headshot of Peter Rowan

Peter Rowan

Lawrence K. Johnson Endowed Chair of Entrepreneurship


Amelia Marckworth

Amelia Marckworth

*currently on maternity leave*


Headshot of Janie Ng with a white background

Janie Ng

Interim Director of Community


FBX Preferred Partners

Assured Partners logo

Clark Nuber logo

Perkins Coie logo