Category Archives: Small Businesses

Cultivating entrepreneurs in Washington State.

watering canEconomic Gardening is a proven model for helping entrepreneurs move from a successful small business to a flourishing and mature company. Since its introduction in Washington State in 2016, over 20 second stage businesses have benefited from the peer learning, leadership education and strategic information provided through the Economic Gardening program.

Washington Vision Therapy Center is one of the first companies to graduate from the Economic Gardening program. Dr. Benjamin Winters had built a successful practice in Yakima and could see the potential of expansion into other cities. Through his mentoring in the Economic Gardening program, he developed a plan for a type of franchising that would allow an optometrist to operate independently and still benefit from franchise incentives. The Economic Gardening specialists helped Dr. Winters identify potential markets and evaluate various franchise frameworks.  Read more about Washington Vision Therapy Center’s experience.

Based in Lacy, Washington, SCJ Alliance, a planning and engineering firm, was generating more than $10 million in annual revenue. After completing the Economic Gardening program, the company opened a new office, added employees and sees potential of increasing annual revenue by $1 million. During a four-month period, Economic Gardening specialists helped the leadership team improve their digital marketing, expand opportunities with military and federal procurement, and identify new geographic market opportunities.

Read more about the benefits SCJ Alliance received through the program. 

If your second stage business is trying to get over the hump in terms of growth and expansion, contact the Washington State Department of Commerce, Office of Economic Development and Competitiveness office to see if you qualify for the Economic Gardening program. Email:  or call: 360-890-2003.

Ready-to-go research lab.

lifeSci_researchIf you’re a startup and all you need is your laptop, a desk and chair, wi fi, a copier, espresso machine and maybe a conference room there are plenty of co-working and incubator spaces for you to rent by the week or the month. But if you need chemical-resistant counters, multiple sinks and a powerful electrical system to run lab equipment, what’s a bio-tech startup to do? Finding available research lab space, unless you have deep pockets and build out your own, can be difficult.

In the Seattle South Lake Union district, the thriving biotech hub in Washington State, a new lab space for rent is opening to meet just that need. Read more in the Puget Sound Business Journal and Geekwire.

Washington State is on the leading edge of life sciences and global health research. Major players including Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research, the Gates Foundation, University of Washington School of Medicine and Allen Institute for Brain Science are drawing smaller biomedical startups to the region. Now they will have an easier time setting up laboratory space to discover revolutionary cures and bring them to market.

Over 480 life sciences and global health organizations are based in Washington State. The global health efforts are engaged in more than 1,500 projects around the world in 151 countries. With two top-tier research universities and access to local venture capital funding Washington is a great place for scientists to set up their lab and begin work on improving health outcomes worldwide.

To learn more about the Life Sciences and Global Health activities in Washington State contact


Pokemon Go: not just a game, but a marketing platform.

pokemon-burgers2Restaurants and retail businesses have been quick to jump on the Pokemon Go bandwagon. Gamers are likely to get hungry and thirsty while they’re  out and about trying to catch the wild Pokemon. Local restaurants and watering holes are participating in this latest craze by becoming Pokestops and offering incentive games on the Pokemon platform. Read more in Puget Sound Business Journal.

Washington State’s culture of creativity has a history of being at the cutting edge of popular culture, music, food, e-commerce and online gaming. Over 330 game design and development companies are located in Washington, the biggest concentration in the country. More than $9.7 billion is generated annually by game development companies in the state’s economy. And, US News and World Report ranked Washington as the #1 Best State to Start a Business.

If your company would benefit by being at the epicenter of online mobile app and game development, contact

Washington rural communities partner to create new future.

ruralbusinessMany rural communities around the country are struggling to rebuild infrastructure, create new jobs where traditional industries have been lost and foster sustainable economies. Two Washington State communities in the Stillaguamish Valley, Arlington and Darrington, have joined together to overcome the challenge of disaster and rebuild vibrant economies.  Leaders from these rural communities developed the ‘Arlington and Darrington Community Revitalization Plan’ and entered their program into the national contest America’s Best Communities. Their plan has been selected as one of the top 5 finalists.  The final winner will be announced in April 2017. Read more in the Everett

Through the Startup Washington initiative, the Washington State Department of Commerce is focused on organic job growth specifically targeting rural communities. With an emphasis on encouraging entrepreneurship and small business growth, communities in Washington are flourishing organically, creating jobs, filling empty storefronts and engaging future generations in our small communities across the state.  Learn more about Startup Washington.

And contact

Entrepreneurs find Washington State is good for business.

startupsThe Washington State  economy grew by 3.1% in 2014 which is faster than the nation’s overall economy growth rate of 2.2%. This expansion is largely due to the rapid growth of the tech industry. With a highly skilled talent pool, access to technology infrastructure and close proximity to tech leaders such as Amazon and Microsoft, entrepreneurs find Washington is a great place to build a successful team.

In this environment, opportunity abounds for creative business ideas to find a network of support. The tech industry is drawing highly skilled younger talent and rewards them with higher incomes. This spills over into growth for goods and services provided by small businesses in communities across the state.

Read more about why Washington State is good for business in Business News Daily.

Tap into useful resources at

And to connect with a business expert at the Washington State Department of Commerce who can help you discover business oportunities, partners and locations in Washington State contact

World Bus tour in developing countries.

pangea-busPangea Motors is on tour in the Mideast and Africa promoting their electric bus to ease transportation and pollution problems in the world’s most crowded cities. This 11-person Vancouver, Washington company sees a strong market for their 16-passenger electric vehicle named the World Bus. Last year they gave President Obama a ride in their electric bus during his visit to the Philippines.

Pangea plans to build a manufacturing facility in Vancouver and hopes to spawn the development of an electric vehicle industry cluster in the area.  Read more in The Columbian.

Washington State is a leader in clean technology and the development of renewable sources of energy.

Fund Local program connects local investors with local businesses.

fundlocal-logo1The Washington State Department of Commerce has partnered with Community Sourced Capital to connect local businesses with local investors. The result: businesses can raise up to $50,000 to grow and expand, add new products or services or invest in new equipment through microloans provided by members of their community.

Called Fund Local, the program allows residents to become “squareholders” in community businesses. Participating businesses do all their own marketing and make their pitches for the money, which is invested in $50 increments called “squares.” When a business succeeds in raising enough money, they get a 0% loan on the money and have three years to pay the loan back.

Pretty exciting stuff, since small businesses can find it difficult to access capital through traditional bank loans. The brainchild of the Department of Commerce’s Business Retention & Expansion team and Community Sourced Capital, this program is the first of its kind in the nation and is part of the Startup 365 strategy to grow communities organically by supporting local businesses.

Want more information? Visit the Fund Local page on the Startup 365 Washington website or read the Department of Commerce’s press release.

A Seattle entrePineur.

moorea-seal1The next time you see your kids frittering away for hours on the Internet, remember this story. And no, the headline isn’t a typo. What else would you call a Seattle entrepreneur who got her start blogging on Pinterest.

If you haven’t heard of Moorea, you must not be one of the nearly one million followers she has on the social media site. Her following is huge, so much so that she not only ended up with a career, but has collaborated with such retailing giants as the Gap and Procter & Gamble and has been featured in numerous magazines.

An online store followed, as did a two book deal with Sasquatch Books. If you want to see Moorea in person, try stopping by her store on 3rd Avenue in Seattle. It opened in May 2014 and about half the store’s traffic are her Pinterest fans.

“Pinterest is a huge source of traffic and sales for both our online store and store front,” Seal said. “I wouldn’t have opened our online store in the first place if it were not for Pinterest and the massive following that was  constantly asking where they could purchase all of the beautiful products I was Pinning.”

Moorea is a great example of Washington State’s pioneer spirit, unbridled ingenuity and entrepreneurial might. She not only dreamed big, but hit it big, all thanks to a social media blog and a passion for fashion.

Learn more about Moorea’s journey.

And check out Choose Washington’s Pinterest page while you’re at it.


Small business loans strong in Washington State.

owner of a small business store showing her tasty cakesWashington State small businesses have received significant support from national banks this past year. Our entrepreneurial climate and successful history of growing small businesses into industry leaders gives lending institutions the confidence to help Washington businesses expand operations.

Reports showed an  increase in loans to businesses owned by women, veterans and minorities. Washington’s highly skilled workforce, business friendly climate and culture of collaboration and innovation make our state a great place to start and grow a business.

Read more in the Puget Sound Business Journal.