Economy


Washington state is home to some of the best-skilled workers and innovators in the world. Our export capabilities, low-cost energy resources and exceptional quality of life attract businesses and people from around the globe.

Gov. Inslee created an Office of Economic Development and Competitiveness to work directly with industry leaders on recruiting new companies to Washington and growing key industries. When these industries do well, so do Washington’s small businesses, service-sector employers and the workers who support them – from truck drivers and machinists to fruit packers and lab technicians. Washington is experiencing its lowest unemployment rates since 2008 and some of the highest job growth in the nation.

Current Work

  • Results Washington. Goal 2: Prosperous Economy
  • Support industries of strategic importance. The Office of Economic Development and Competitiveness works with leaders in key sectors to act as bridges between state government and industry.
  • Encourage business diversity. Gov. Inslee formed a subcabinet to find ways for small and diverse businesses to have access to contracting opportunities with state government agencies and higher education institutions. 
  • Ensure career readiness. Washington’s skilled workforce is one reason world-class companies locate here. Our state is working with industry partners to develop programs that are helping students build job skills and train before they enter their careers.
  • Expand workforce training and education in STEM. In the next decade, almost all the fastest-growing job sectors will require science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) skills. By 2017, approximately 30,000 jobs in our state will go unfilled by Washington’s own students due to a lack of qualified STEM candidates. Gov. Inslee is committed to filling this skills gap and preparing our students for the jobs of tomorrow. 
  • Growth and prosperity for everyone. Growing the economy is about creating good-paying jobs. Gov. Inslee is building a Washington that works for everyone.
  • Workforce development. The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act is a chance for our state to reinvent how we support workforce development. Gov. Inslee is working with stakeholders in business, labor and every level of government to ensure every Washingtonian has a chance to earn a living wage and every employer has enough skilled workers to prosper in our state.
  • Implement Paid Family Leave. Washington State is one of eight states to receive a U.S. Department of Labor grant funding to help implement paid leave programs around the country. The grant allows Washington to take important steps toward designing a paid family leave program that fits our needs in the state. The state legislature passed a Family Leave Insurance program into law in 2007 but it remains unfunded.
  • Results Washington. Gov. Inslee’s goals for an increased gross business income, a high state ranking in innovation and entrepreneurship and increasing tourist spending are all on track to meet or exceed targets.
  • Economic development. Gov. Inslee and his staff work with companies all over the world to encourage companies to locate in Washington. 

Key Successes

2016

  • Economic Gardening is a new initiative from the state Department of Commerce that helps local companies grow and succeed across the state that supports growth companies. The program was created when the governor signed SB 6100,.

2015

  • Transportation investment package. Gov. Inslee brokered a 16-year, $16 billion “Connecting Washington” transportation investment package that will create ~200,000 jobs and includes:
    • Road and safety projects around the state including megaprojects like SR 520 bridge, the North Spokane Corridor, SR 167/SR 509 Gateway Project, and widening of I-5 at Joint Base Lewis-McChord
    • Highway maintenance and preservation
    • Non-highway projects like bike paths, rail and transit
    • Funding for ferries including a fourth Olympic Class Ferry Vessel
    • Authorization for Sound Transit to seek voter-approval for $15 billion to extend light rail to Everett, Tacoma and Redmond
    • Investments related to fish barrier removal, bridge preservation, freight rail improvements, electric vehicle and alternative fuel tax credits and commute trip reduction programs
  • Diversity in business. Gov. Inslee convened a new subcabinet focused on increasing access for small and minority-, women- and veteran-owned businesses to contracting opportunities with Washington state government.
  • Strategic planning for military downsizing. In June 2015, Gov. Inslee formed a Subcabinet on Military Downsizing to address possible reductions in military force in the state. The Subcabinet will create a coordinated strategic plan to respond to and mitigate potential military reduction impacts on local communities in Washington.
  • Tax incentives. 
    • Food processors play a vital role in converting Washington raw materials into finished goods that feed our state and beyond. By extending tax incentives for food processors, we support rural areas and keep manufacturing jobs in Washington (SB 6057). 
    • Data center tax incentives promote rural economic development, create jobs in rural areas and generate tax revenues for local and state government (SB 6057).

2014

  • Economic development. Gov. Inslee reconvened the Washington Military Alliance to strengthen Washington’s $15.7 billion military sector and plan for Department of Defense reductions. The alliance is a diverse group of more than 20 military and economic development leaders representing industry, infrastructure, veteran, workforce and economic development interests across the state.
  • Better business. 
    • Gov. Inslee worked with business partners to develop the nation’s first Regulatory Red Tape Index to promote better customer service to businesses.
    • Gov. Inslee and the Department of Commerce partnered with local government and industry to launch the Restaurant Success website, which streamlines the process of opening a restaurant in Seattle. The governor and Commerce are now working with other local jurisdictions to launch similar efforts statewide.
  • Job growth. To help thousands of long-term unemployed workers find work, Washington secured more than $10 million dollars through the federal Rapid Response program.

2013

  • Economic development. 
    • Gov. Inslee created an Office of Economic Development and Competitiveness to work directly with industry leaders on recruiting new companies to Washington and growing key industries.
    • Gov. Inslee helped secure thousands of aerospace jobs by winning the 777X. Boeing is now building its 1.4 million square foot expansion of the Everett plant. Dozens of companies from around the world are considering expanding here and locating new facilities in our state to be a part of the Washington aerospace industry.
    • To improve employment opportunities for people with disabilities in state employment, Gov. Inslee established the Disability Task Force.
  • Resource management. Gov. Inslee’s Yakima Basin jobs, water and fish bill (SB 5367) works with agencies and local partners to manage water in the Yakima River Basin. Droughts and water shortages have harsh impacts on salmon, crops and homes in the region. The bill enhances stream flows for salmon, provides farmers with water, buys land for habitat restoration and public recreation and secures future water supplies. The legislation also created the Teanaway Community Forest Trust to ensure protection and public access to forest lands in the state.
  • STEM education. Gov. Inslee’s House Bill 1872 convened a new STEM alliance to expand STEM opportunities in our K-12 system and develop a system for measuring how well the state and our partners are preparing students for STEM-related opportunities after high school.

Resources

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