Creating a thriving economic climate that spurs job growth in every industry sector is Gov. Inslee’s top priority. Since the governor took office, state GDP has grown to 3.1% and unemployment has been reduced to a record low of 4.7%. In 2019, the governor worked to sustain economic growth, broaden benefits across the state and build new pathways to opportunity. He managed a $4 million business retention and recruitment Strategic Reserve Fund that resulted in 3,400 jobs. He grew existing small and medium size businesses by building on proven economic development tools, led the development of a sustainable tourism strategy, and diversified in key sectors and subclusters, including:

  • Aerospace: Cultivated new supply chain opportunities, launched the Governor’s New Market Aircraft council, grew innovation in the future of aerospace, like composite materials, clean fuels and space exploration.
  • Clean Technology: Supported continued growth in the Governor’s Clean Energy Fund and recruited key advanced battery manufacturing and clean transportation companies.
  • Information and Communication Technology: Nurtured innovation in blockchain, autonomous vehicles, quantum computing, the Cloud, AI, and internet of things.
  • Life Sciences and Global Health: Supported cancer research and funding ,and helped address talent, capital and space needs.
  • Maritime: Promoted sustainable development through the Governor’s Maritime Blue initiative, and led creation of a new Maritime Innovation Center.
  • Military and Defense: Increased the reach of the Governor’s Procurement and Technical Assistance Center, and expanded focus on cybersecurity.
  • Sustainable Forestry: Extended a timber tax break and expanded it to include cross laminate timber.

Current Work

  • Results Washington. Results Washington, launched by Gov. Inslee in 2013, tracks progress on a range of issues including the state's efforts to grow Washington's economy and help working families thrive.
  • 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 careers after high school through education programs such as registered apprenticeships. 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.
  • Updating Washington’s decades-old overtime rules. Washington's overtime rules haven't changed in more than 40 years since they were last updated in 1976. Current state rules exempt any worker who makes more than $13,000 a year, meaning hundreds of thousands of Washington workers who should be receiving overtime pay and minimum wage protections are not. Inslee directed the Department of Labor & Industries to update the rule which could impact more than 250,000 workers by 2026. 

Key Successes

  • Keep Washington Working. The legislature passed a bill, supported by the governor and building on his 2017 executive order affirming the rights and contributions of immigrants in Washington state. The legislation establishes a statewide policy supporting immigrants’ role in the economy and makes clear that state agency and local law enforcement resources will not be commandeered for purposes of federal immigration enforcement.
  • Best state rankings. U.S. News & World Report ranked Washington the best state in the country in May 2019. The publication evaluated all 50 states across a range of criteria, including education, health care, infrastructure and the economy. The report emphasized Washington’s thriving technology sector as well as the state’s aggressive efforts to promote clean, affordable energy. Washington also appears regularly at the top of favorable rankings from other organizations, especially those related to economic opportunity. Last year, CNBC named Washington the Top State for Business, WalletHub listed Washington as the state with the best economy, and Oxfam, an organization that aims to end poverty, also gave high marks to Washington state for being the best state for workers.
  • Statewide broadband. After a statewide tour last year, Gov. Inslee proposed a bill to provide broadband internet service to communities throughout Washington. The bill, passed by the legislature, creates a new Statewide Broadband Office to serve as the central planning and coordinating body for public and private efforts to ensure broadband is available in every community. Affordable and quality broadband is crucial to support businesses and jobs and provide education and health care opportunities for people throughout the state.
  • Career Connect Washington. Legislators provided funds for the next steps of Inslee’s Career Connect Washington initiative. Career-connected learning gives students more pathways to good-paying careers through a statewide system for apprenticeship, internship and mentorship learning. Inslee set a goal to connect 100,000 Washington students with career-connect learning opportunities by 2027. The legislature funded these investments with a targeted surcharge agreed to by business leaders. These business leaders depend on the state’s colleges and universities to train and educate students for careers.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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).
  • 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.
  • 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.


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