Commerce’s small business services.
Small businesses, startups and entrepreneurs are the engines that power local economies throughout the state. To support them every step of the way, the Department of Commerce’s Office of Economic Development & Competitiveness has a suite of programs and services that meet their diverse needs, from education and training to business loans and export assistance.
Located at Startup.ChooseWashingtonState.com, this online resource contains in-depth information and resources for entrepreneurs, startups and small businesses, including funding resources, programs, co-working space maps, connections to angels and VCs, training and technical assistance, mentorship, education and more.
Small business owners participate in 35-hours of on-site classroom training to improve financial operations, reduce operational expenses and learn how to compete more effectively in the marketplace.
Startup 365 is a partnership between the Office of Economic Development & Competitiveness and local economic development organizations. A new center was established in Wenatchee in 2018, building on the success of pilot Startup 365 programs in Asotin and Whitman counties. This center provides entrepreneurs and small businesses with information, resources and onsite assistance. This includes finding funding sources, receiving training and technical assistance, securing local mentorship and providing access to resources, education and information to help them grow.
The Washington State Economic Gardening Program takes an entrepreneurial approach to regional prosperity. Often referred to as a “grow from within” strategy, it helps existing companies increase revenues by as much as 10 to 20%. In contrast to traditional business assistance, economic gardening focuses on strategic growth challenges such as developing new markets, refining business models and gaining access to competitive intelligence.
Natural and manmade disasters are inevitable. While you can’t prevent every disruption in your business, there are things you can do to either reduce their likelihood or their impact. When Trouble Strikes gives you proven ways to identify and neutralize potential disruptions as well as tips you can use to get back up and running in their aftermath.
The Retirement Marketplace offers businesses a cost effective way to offer employees retirement benefits. The program carries no fee to employers and employees can select from a range of portable 401(k) and IRA plans to suite their individual needs. The plans are vetted by the state so participants can invest in their retirement with confidence.
Creating Export Success
This 1½ day seminar covers everything you need to know to expand into exporting. The content of the course is customized to match the profiles of those attending and is hands-on, so you get real-world examples and advice from exporting experts. On the second day, you meet directly with representatives in roundtables that focus on your specific business issues.
To address changes in military and defense contracting in Washington, the OEDC offers small businesses workshops, information and assistance to identify new opportunities for contracting, whether it’s through the Department of Defense or other federal agencies.
Each November, our partners across the state hold workshops, seminars and competitions to expose residents to the idea of owning and running their own business. It’s a great way to find out what it takes to run a business and glean new ideas.
SizeUp offers a sophisticated set of online diagnostic tools that will help you refine your business model, identify competitors, find suppliers, develop advertising strategies and more. You can run various scenarios, comparing your business to others in the area to see how your pricing, staffing, revenue projections and marketing strategies stack up, complete with local, regional, state and U.S. data comparisons.
If you’re thinking about starting a business, relocating your operations to Washington State or planning to invest in an existing business, The Small Business Playbook is for you. Filled with real-world insights, information and lessons learned, the guide was written by Washington State small business owners.
This free guide explores 27 different strategies for accessing capital as a small business, startup or entrepreneur. It covers a wide range of options and includes the advantages and disadvantages of each funding strategy, from the traditional to the cutting edge.
Qualifying small businesses in Washington can be reimbursed up to $5,000 for export-related activities, including trade show and trade mission fees, travel, interpreter and translation services, training, international certifications and more.
The OEDC works with private financial institutions to offer the Collateral Support Program, which helps fill funding gaps in traditional loan strategies. These and other SSBCI programs have delivered millions in new capital to Washington State small businesses since their inception.
Designed to streamline the permitting and regulatory process in target industries, Regulatory Roadmap is a partnership with local and county governments. Currently, there are Roadmaps for manufacturers, contractors and restauranteurs in selected high-growth communities. Businesses can use these tools to move through the planning process more efficiently and predictably.
The Office of Economic Development & Competitiveness (OEDC) offers a range of consulting services designed to help small businesses grow and expand statewide. This includes site selection assistance, market intelligence, investment opportunity research, connections to industry networks, permitting and regulatory guidance and customized workforce training programs.
The OEDC’s Key Sector Leads work with the Governor’s office, legislators, industry leaders and local, regional and state economic development organizations to develop effective, broad-stroke strategies that promote job growth in targeted industries, encourage investment, remove roadblocks and align state initiatives with the needs of small businesses at the local level.
Exporting products overseas is a smart growth strategy, but figuring out how to navigate the export market can be difficult. The Small Business Exporting Assistance team can assist you with setting up your exporting operation, including providing technical support, research, matchmaking, trade show exposure and trade missions to key markets around the globe.
Businesses interested in expanding their markets can partner with the Department of Commerce at trade shows throughout the world. Supporting the state’s key industry focus, these shows allow small businesses in Washington State to participate in high profile shows at a fraction of the cost, exposing their products and services to decision-makers worldwide.
Led by officials from state agencies and occasionally, the Governor or his staff, trade missions allow businesses to establish key relationships and engage in business-to-business and business-to-government meetings that can greatly reduce the sales cycle. Many cultures require government-level introductions and these missions open doors that may otherwise be closed to businesses.
Commerce works closely with other government agencies to clear roadblocks and streamline processes. Recent work included partnering with cities and counties to improve the regulatory experience and working with the Washington State Department of Agriculture’s Small Farm Direct Marketing and Farm to School team to connect rural farms and food entrepreneurs with local markets for their products. Commerce also worked with 11 regulatory agencies to develop the Washington BusinessHub website, a one-stop shop for information about starting and operating a business in the state.
The OEDC is the only state agency that promotes and markets the state to site selectors, businesses and investors. Through the Choose Washington brand, the Marketing Services team provides consulting and design support for the agency’s economic development website, trade shows, trade missions and business recruitment efforts. The marketing team also works with local economic development organizations, tying the statewide Choose Washington brand to regional and local marketing campaigns and initiatives.