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. Washington is consistently ranked the #1 place in the country to do business.

Gov. Inslee’s Department of Commerce works 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. 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.
  • 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. 
  • Career Connect Washington. The governor launched the Career Connect Washington initiative in May 2017 to help more students pursue good-paying jobs after high school through career-ready education such as registered apprenticeships and technical training programs. Career Connect Washington’s goal is to connect 100,000 students during the next five years with career-connected learning opportunities that prepare them for high-demand, high-wage jobs. 
  • Ensure statewide broadband access. Many rural communities don’t have access to adequate broadband services which limits their ability to be part of emerging educational and economic opportunities or access modern-day medical and emergency management services. Gov. Inslee is working with legislators and local communities to expand broadband access to every corner of the state.
  • Paid family and medical leave. Washington is preparing to launch its best-in-the-nation paid family and medical leave program, approved on a bipartisan basis by legislators in 2017. Employees can become eligible for up to 12 weeks of paid medical leave, and up to 12 weeks of paid time off to care for a new child or an ailing family member. Depending on their earnings, employees will receive up to 90 percent of their wages or up to $1,000 per week.

Key Successes

2018
  • State-wide broadband access. In 2018, there was progress on broadband throughout the state that will help create jobs, improve public safety, increase education opportunities and support good access to healthcare options. The governor:
    • Helped secure $10M in community economic revitalization funds for rural broadband deployment.
    • Secured another $800K for broadband in LaPush, a remote and underserved part of the Quileute Nation that is vulnerable to seismic and tsunami hazards.
    • HB 2664 allows more ports to supply wholesale broadband service.
    • SB 6034 allows Kitsap PUD to provide retail broadband service to its customers, particularly in Suquamish, Poulsbo, Hansville and Stavis Bay.
  • Equal pay. Under the Equal Pay Opportunity Act, signed by the governor in March 2018, employees are legally required to receive equal pay and career advancement opportunities, regardless of gender. The new regulations update Washington’s equal pay law, which was established in 1943. 
  • Grant funding. Job shadowing, internships and apprenticeships are just a few of the career connections that are available to 29,000 students thanks to $6.4 million in new Career Connect Washington grant funding. Opportunities include STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) learning experiences, job shadows at local employers, career planning, and over 4,800 new internships, pre-apprenticeships and registered apprenticeships.
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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