Small businesses, startups and entrepreneurs are the engines that power local economies throughout the state. To support them every step of the way, the Washington State Department of Commerce has a suite of programs and services that meet their diverse needs, from education and training to business loans and export assistance.
The Department of Commerce 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.
Designed for second-stage companies, economic gardening focuses on overcoming specific business hurdles that prevent further growth, such as finding and developing new markets, refining business models and gaining access to competitive intelligence. Specially trained economic gardening specialists help CEOs utilize sophisticated, proven tools and practices to take their company to the next level.
The Department of Commerce partners with local and state agencies to streamline the regulatory process for businesses so they can open or expand in cities throughout Washington State more easily. Initial projects are focused on the restaurant and manufacturing sectors.
Key Sector Advocacy
Commerce’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. Commerce’s team of experts 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.
Fund Local helps small business access crowdfunded capital locally in the form of zero-interest loans for up to $50,000. Customers, friends, family and investors can invest in "squares" in increments of $50 to fund your growth or expansion.
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.
Export Voucher Program
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.
Small Business Credit Initiative
The Department of Commerce works with private financial institutions to offer three small business loan programs – Craft3, the W Fund and Collateral Support Program – to fill funding gaps in traditional loan strategies. These programs have delivered millions in new capital to Washington State small businesses since their inception.
Startup 365 Centers
Startup 365 is a partnership between the Department of Commerce’s entrepreneurial program and local economic development organizations. Centers in Thurston, Asotin and Whitman counties provide 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 centers are part of a growing mentor network developed by Commerce, Greater Spokane Inc. and the Business and Innovation Center in Lacey.
To address changes in military and defense contracting in Washington, Commerce 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.
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.
Global Entrepreneurship Month
Each November, the Department of Commerce works with local economic development organizations around the state to host hundreds of events in local communities that help entrepreneurs explore their potential, connect to resources, engage in networking, refine their ideas and celebrate the entrepreneurial spirit that drives Washington’s economy and builds quality communities.
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 round tables that focus on your specific business issues.
Small Business Playbook
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.
When Trouble Strikes
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.
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.
To strengthen communities and build economic prosperity in underserved and rural areas, Commerce fields three outreach specialists to connect the agency’s 100 programs and services with local communities, tribes, economic development organizations and businesses.
Small Business Retirement Marketplace
When fully operational in 2017, the Small Business Retirement Marketplace will offer low-cost retirement savings plans via qualified financial services firms to businesses with less than 100 employees, sole proprietors and self-employed individuals.
We’re here to help you succeed as a Washington State business or investor. If you have questions about any of these services or programs, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at (206) 256-6100.