2018 OEDC Stakeholder Report


This report to the economic community is intended to highlight the work of the Office of Economic Development & Competitiveness (OEDC) between July 1, 2013 and June 30, 2018. Where possible, the data covers these five years to reflect the long-play nature of economic development, where efforts to strengthen communities statewide can take years to have an impact.

Where applicable, explanatory notes and additional data are provided to more completely and transparently tell the story of economic development at the state, regional and local level.

The OEDC strengthens communities by delivering a suite of strategic and tactical programs targeted to small businesses, startups and entrepreneurs, particularly those in rural and underserved communities. The OEDC works with economic partners throughout Washington to build a robust, diverse and stable economy, focusing primarily on businesses with less than 25 employees. This ecosystem includes our associate development organization (ADOs) network, which supports the needs of small businesses in all 39 counties through OEDC-administered grants.

The OEDC is aligned along four core economic development strategies: Business Development, Export Assistance, Key Sectors, and Rural & Marketing Services. These teams are focused on:

  • Underserved & Rural Economies: The OEDC and local ADOs work together to support the evolving needs of entrepreneurs, startups and small businesses throughout the state, offering a progression of programs and services for all stages of business, from startup to second-stage to exporter. The OEDC has two economic development specialists assigned to rural parts of the state and works closely with Commerce’s Outreach Team to deliver coordinated support statewide. It also manages the annual funding for the associate development organizations.
  • Business Recruitment & Investment: Developing, curating and responding to leads from global consultants and investors, this team is responsible for attracting new business and investment to the state, helping existing businesses expand and executing retention strategies to keep Washington business from relocating to another state.
  • Key Sectors: Working closely with the Governor, legislators, industry and the private sector, Sector Leads represent seven high-growth industries – Aerospace, Clean technology, Forest/Wood Products, Information & Communication Technology (ICT), Life Science & Global Health; Maritime; and Military.
  • Promoting Washington State: Communicating the competitive strengths of doing business in Washington via traditional and digital channels, telling the story of why businesses should and do choose Washington. This includes coordinating the work of the Tourism Marketing Authority, which the state recently created to oversee a new tourism marketing fund.
  • Workforce, Capital & Assistance: The OEDC oversees the state’s Strategic Reserve Fund, which is used as an economic development tool to attract and retain businesses as well as provide customized workforce training in partnership with local ADOs and colleges.
  • Export Assistance: This team provides technical, financial and international marketing assistance to small businesses to drive increased export sales statewide. This includes administered federally-funded Export Vouchers which offset some of the cost for a small business that wants to engage in international activities such as trade shows or market expansion.

The Office of Economic Development & Competitiveness works with businesses all over the world and all over the state to strengthen and diversify the economy, prepare the workforce of tomorrow, help small businesses become large ones and position the state to weather major economic disruptions caused by shifting policies, world politics and economic shifts. The OEDC partners with economic development organizations throughout the state to leverage assets and maximize ROI.

Highlights of the OEDC’s work over the last five years include:

  • 136 new, retained or expanded businesses, 51.3% of them in rural and underserved parts of the state.
  • 14,702 new or retained jobs across the state.
  • $7.82 billion in new or continued capital investment in Washington’s economy.
  • 824 small businesses awarded STEP grants to expand into new markets overseas.
  • 1,804 small businesses assisted with export issues related to tariffs, paperwork, foreign trade zones and reseller permits.
  • $1.1 billion in new export sales from participation in international trade shows as part of the Washington State delegation.
  • 263 entrepreneurship, startup and small business webinars, competitions, symposiums and courses conducted, covering all 39 counties.
  • 276,439 unique visits by businesses, investors and site selectors to state’s business attraction and small business websites.
  • Serving as lead agency on major economic initiatives such as the Maritime Blue strategy, 777X retention effort, cross-laminated timber, artificial intelligence/machine learning, commercial space, clean energy, advanced manufacturing and other Washington industries of the future.
  • Sponsoring dozens of trade shows and trade missions that expose small businesses throughout the state to overseas markets and opportunities, including the Paris and Farnborough Air Shows, Hannover Messe, Mobile World Congress and MEDICA.
  • Re-establishing a three-person Rural Strategies team to work with local economic development stakeholders to strengthen the economies of rural and underserved communities.
  • Establishing and supporting the Washington State Tourism Marketing Authority, Washington Military Alliance, New Mid-Market Airplane Council and Washington State Space Coalition to serve the needs of industry.

Staffing & Budget

OEDC Unit Reports

Business Recruitment, Retention & Expansion

The Business Development unit works with local economic development organizations, site selectors, corporate decision makers and investors to site, relocate and expand business operations throughout Washington State. The unit assists with infrastructure and permitting issues, workforce development, site selection and incentives.

Total # of Recruitment Projects: 187
Domestic: 129    FDI: 58
Total Projected Jobs: 9,413
Total Projected CAPEX: $6.78 billion

Total # of Expansion Projects: 61
Domestic: 57    FDI: 4
Total Projected Jobs: 3,126
Total Projected CAPEX: $2.36 billion

Total # of Projects Won: 61
Total Jobs Created: 4,562
Total CAPEX: $2.05 billion

Total # of Expansion/Retention Projects Won: 75
Total Jobs Created or Retained: 9,735
Total CAPEX: $5.77 billion

Urban (King, Snohomish, Pierce): 33
Rural: 22
Unassigned: 6

Urban (King, Snohomish, Pierce): 26
Rural: 40
Unassigned: 9

Small Business Export Assistance

Exporting can be a very effective expansion strategy for small businesses. This team works with companies throughout the state to connect them with international trade event support, business matchmaking, market intelligence, advocacy and risk mitigation they need to successfully enter new markets or expand activities in existing ones. As a co-exhibitor, Washington companies have the opportunity to participate in international trade shows in the Choose Washington pavilion, exhibiting their products and services at a fraction of the cost.

Small Business Export Assistance team members work with small businesses throughout the state to either create new export opportunities or increase existing opportunities through participation in targeted international trade events, market research, matchmaking, consulting and risk mitigation.

Export assisted sales are self-reported by businesses and reflect increased exporting activity attributable to the work or programs offered by the Small Business Export Assistance unit. However, not all businesses complete the requested follow-up reports.

Businesses were supported primarily through the Export Voucher Program, which offers qualifying companies that are new to exports or entering new markets up to $5,000 to offset expenses. Funded in part by the SBA’s State Trade Expansion Program, the vouchers can be used to defray trade show or trade mission fees, airfare, interpreter and translation services, export training programs and more.

The OEDC actively recruits businesses that represent rural and underserved communities. This chart shows the results of this effort to extend the STEP Voucher program to businesses throughout the state. Results are self-reported and not all businesses self-identify with one of these demographics. Some report in more than one category, such as a veteran-owned business in a rural community.

Sector Leads

Focusing on high-growth sectors such as aerospace, agriculture/food manufacturing, clean technology, information and communication technology, forest products, life science/global health, maritime, and military/defense sectors, Sector Leads work closely with the Governor, legislators, industry and government leaders to forge and promote public-private partnerships, enhance the workforce for the 21st century in targeted, high-growth industries, and advance broad stroke strategies that support small business growth and expansion statewide.

Non-Commerce dollars attracted to projects and/or communities due to Sector Lead involvement.

Number of stakeholder organizations connected to Sector Lead program on strategic initiatives/projects, including members of key trade associations and businesses, funders, NGO’s and agencies engaged in strategic initiatives/projects.

Rural & Marketing Services

To strengthen communities in rural and underserved parts of the state, the OEDC manages programs and services designed to support entrepreneurship, encourage new business enterprises, grow local businesses organically and take second-stage businesses to the next logical level of growth, such as being ready to successfully export. Programs include Startup centers in rural communities, Economic Gardening, Global Entrepreneurship Month, publications, resources and webinars, and education and technical assistance. This unit also directs the state’s business attraction, retention and investment marketing strategies, including the Choose Washington, Maritime Blue and Startup Washington websites. 

The Economic Gardening program was approved as a pilot in 2016 to gauge the effectiveness of the program. A total of 26 companies were accepted, 24 completed the requirements. The program was renewed by the state legislature and began to recruit more second-stage companies July 2018. Enrollment continues now that funding was made available for a sustained effort to support these potentially high-growth businesses.

12 of the initial 24 companies have reported results related to their participation in Economic Gardening. Graduating companies reported or projected more than $14 million in additional sales because of the program. Efforts continue to improve the reporting which is a requirement for participation in the program. Following the pilot period, the OEDC lacked the necessary human resources to track additional sales revenue and staffing accurately

Economic Gardening has shown tremendous potential for growing jobs in rural and underserved communities. During the pilot program, Economic Gardening enrolled 20 rural and four urban second-stage businesses. Combined they either hired or retained 405 employees during the pilot program. Data for FY 2018 is not yet available due to the lag in company reporting requirements.

Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW) is an international celebration of entrepreneurship filled with seminars, workshops and competitions. Washington has been a leader in hosting these events. Working closely with local economic development partners, the state exposed more than 10,000 residents to the idea of starting and running their business in 2015 alone.

The program languished in 2016/17 with the retirement of the Rural Manager. In July 2018, a new Rural Strategies team was created. In just three months they were able to coordinate 47 events for GEW in November. In 2019, the OEDC’s goal is to have more than 100 events statewide, with at least one event in each county to return GEW to its previous level of success.

Resources for entrepreneurs and startups was originally housed on the ChooseWashington.com website. In 2015, this content was shifted to Startup.ChooseWashingtonState.com to make it a standalone resource that could be expanded further. The site is targeted specifically to businesses in the startup to second-stage phases of their lifecycle and promotes the state’s small business and entrepreneur programs and services.

ChooseWashington.com is the only site that markets Washington to a global business audience and allows site selectors and investors to research properties, learn more about the state’s competitive advantages and connect with economic development experts in Commerce. The Startup website is a subset of the main ChooseWashington.com site. The data above represents unique visitors to the site rather than overall web traffic. Approximately 80% of all visitors have not been to the site before and have found it either through an organic search (google, for example), or external links from other sites.

Translate »