2019 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, 2014 and Dec. 31, 2019. Where possible, the data covers approximately five years of activity 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.
  • 588 entrepreneurship, startup and small business webinars, competitions, symposiums and courses conducted, covering all 39 counties.
  • 249,518 unique visits by businesses, investors and site selectors to state’s business attraction and investment website.
  • 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.
  • Creating and managing a comprehensive ecosystem that teaches residents entrepreneurship and takes a small business from the ideation stage through the second-stage, providing the technical assistance, training and education and mentorship necessary to create jobs and economic vitality in small communities statewide.
  • 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, website 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.

Sector Lead Successes

University of Washington Clean Energy Testbeds

The second round of Clean Energy Fund investments included $8 million for the establishment of the Washington Clean Energy Testbeds at the University of Washington (UW). The Testbeds facility opened in February 2017 and already has over 150 users.

The UW Clean Energy Institute also received an additional $1 million for the initial design of the Center for Advanced Materials and Clean Energy Technologies (CAMCET). The design process led to the UW’s commitment to the CAMCET building as the first project in the expansion of the UW’s innovation district. The project budget is $159 million.

The Clean Energy Institute (CEI) created the Washington Clean Energy Testbeds to increase the rate at which breakthrough science and engineering discoveries turn into market-adopted clean energy technologies.

The state-of-the-art user facility has labs for manufacturing prototypes, testing devices, and integrating systems. The 15,000-square-foot facility provides researchers and cleantech businesses customized training and access to top-quality fabrication, characterization, and computational instruments. Specifically, these instruments are for printing, coating, and testing the materials and devices needed to achieve ultra-low-cost solar cells and batteries; as well as developing the system integration software and hardware to optimize the performance of devices and systems like vehicles, buildings, and the grid.

The Testbeds include:

  • The Scale-up & Characterization lab at the Testbeds offers a platform for prototyping authentic-scale solar and storage devices as well as testing manufacturing processes.
  • The Systems Integration lab at the Testbeds provides an evaluation platform for testing the performance of energy devices and algorithms when integrated into real and simulated system environments.
  • The Testbeds offer users meeting and office space where they can work, collaborate, and further build their cleantech community.
  • The Research Training Testbed facility provides UW students access to research-quality tools and training in clean energy concepts that cut across academic disciplines.

Partners: UW, Washington Research Foundation, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL)

Outside Dollars Leveraged: $6 million from the Washington Research Foundation.

More Information: https://www.cei.washington.edu/facilities/testbeds/

Washington Maritime Blue Initiative

The Washington Maritime Blue Initiative commenced in September 2017 with an award from the U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration to support the development of a statewide strategic plan to accelerate innovation in the maritime sector. 

Governor Inslee appointed a Maritime Innovation Advisory Council to deliver a full strategy for the Blue Economy and Commerce conducted a multi-stakeholder planning process that engages more than 140 maritime leaders and stakeholders. The Final Strategy was released on in 2018 with an event that included Governor, Advisory Council and 200 maritime stakeholders. 

The Strategic Goals identified in the Strategy include:

  • Shifting toward a thriving, low-carbon industry: Accelerate deep decarbonization of the industry.
  • Becoming a global innovation hub: Drive commercialization of “blue” technologies.
  • Growing gateways: Lead the nation in efficient, clean and safe working waterfronts.
  • Supporting a 21st Century workforce: Support the next generation, inclusive maritime workforce with tech expertise for clean, healthful, living-wage jobs.
  • Establishing a world-class maritime cluster: Formalize a nonprofit organization to implement Washington Maritime Blue collaboration to ensure a strong industry founded on competitive companies and an attractive business climate.

To support the strategy an independent, non-profit cluster organization, Washington Maritime Blue, was formed with the mission to implement the plan. As a partnership between industry, government agencies, research & training institutions, and community organizations, the organization’s mission is to create a world-class, thriving and sustainable maritime industry through knowledge sharing, collaborative R&D, commercialization, business and workforce development.

Partners: Governor’s Maritime Innovation Advisory Board, Steering Committee and Task Force = 140 participating. Funders and Match include: US Commerce – EDA, Port of Seattle, UW-APL, Impact Washington.

Outside Dollars Leveraged: $1,040,000 in Federal Grants, Match and Contributions

More Information: www.maritimeblue.org


The Apprenti apprenticeship training program was created in 2017 to provide a reliable pathway for non-traditional students to gain the training they needed to access to tech jobs. Commerce, via the Strategic Reserve Fund (SRF), seeded the program with a $400,000 grant that was followed-up by a $4 million program through Labor & Industries that is matched dollar for dollar by private sector participants, including Amazon and Microsoft.  Fifty-six Washingtonians were in the first year of the program, more than 110 in the second year of the program, and in 2019 it is anticipated that at least 250 will participate. 

Median age for the program is 33.  Eighty-one percent of Apprenti apprenticeships are women, people of color or military veterans (41% people of color, 35% non-male).  Median wage before the program is $31,000 with little or no benefits; during the apprenticeship, it is $51,000 with benefits; after the program, it is $78,000 with benefits.  Eighty-three percent of participants successfully exit the program into a full-time job where they did their apprenticeship.

The program has a rigorous selection process. There have been 6,167 Washington applications and roughly a quarter of applicants qualify for the program.  Two women, aged 63 and 61, successfully participated in the program as part of their post-divorce transition back into the workforce.  Program participants have been as young as 18, but that is highly unusual. 

The funding model is that the state and companies subsidize tuition costs, the companies pay the apprenticeship costs and Apprenti receives a placement fee after graduation.

Partners: Washington Technology Industry Association, Commerce, L&I, Amazon, Microsoft

Outside Dollars Leveraged: $4 million

More Information: https://apprenticareers.org

Opportunity Zones

Washington State has 139 census tracts designated as Opportunity Zones (OZ), part of a new federal program that gives tax incentives to investors who fund qualified businesses or develop real estate in those selected communities.

Each state could designate up to 25% of its low-income census tracts as OZs and each state approached this differently. Washington State engaged both tribal governments and local communities in the designation process. Every county and each tribe were able to designate at least one tract while the others were determined through a competitive process. As a result, 17 out of the 29 federally recognized tribes and 37 out of 38 eligible counties have at least one OZ.

The state’s only official role under the law was to designate the OZs. However, after Commerce, the Federal Reserve Board of San Francisco and the National Development Council held Listening Sessions around the state, it was clear that many communities – especially tribal and rural areas – need assistance to identify projects, and make them both ready for and attractive to investors.

Commerce has engaged partners to:

  • Bring communities and experts together at a statewide OZ convening in October. Sponsors and foundations funded both the convening and travel scholarships so all OZ communities had the opportunity to attend. The event included one-on-one mentoring for the communities and a special reception for Tribal leaders.
  • Train and build capacity in local businesses and leaders.
    • Create a statewide “learning community” that encourages collaboration and knowledge sharing. This idea was inspired by the Emerald Coast OZ, a collaboration of five tribes, four towns, two counties and two ports that are pooling resources to promote their projects. Now the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation and 6 other non-tribal communities have created the North Star Opportunity Zone. Meanwhile, others are reaching across the state to learn from each other and discuss joint partnerships.
    • Bring in social impact investors, foundations and federal funders as both potential project investors and grantors.

Partners: Philanthropy Northwest, Mission Investors Exchange, Seattle Foundation, National Development Council, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, Northwest Area Foundation, Meyer Memorial Trust and the Thread Fund. Stakeholders include: 139 Tribal, rural and urban communities. Funders include: Commerce, Northwest Area Foundation, Wells Fargo, Enterprise Community Partners, and Opportunity Zone Association of America.

More Information: http://www.emikeflynn.com/index.php/blog/flynn-s-harp/state-offers-session-focusing-on-new-tax-break-opportunity-zones


New Mid-Market Aircraft Council & Strategy
Boeing determined the commercial market was large enough for their company to potentially launch a new aircraft design.  In 2017, Boeing Commercial Airplanes began customer discussions on their next aircraft, dubbed the New Mid-Market Airplane (NMA), or 797.  This composite aircraft would be twin-aisle with an elliptical cross-section, with seating capacity between 225 and 275 seats and a flying range of up to 5,000 nautical miles.

The Governor’s Office and the Washington State Department of Commerce initiated the development of the NMA Council and convened the first meeting in December 2017 to help position the state as the logical location to headquarter the new airline program.

The partners mentioned above raised more than $375,000 to help fund the effort to promote Washington State as the best place for the NMA.

The following activities occurred:

  • State tours to training campuses in Everett, Spokane and Lakewood, the ports of Everett and Moses Lake, regional airports including the Bremerton National Airport and Tacoma Narrows Airport.

Partners: Economic Alliance of Snohomish County, PSRC, Central Washington University, Cities of Bothell, Bremerton, Fife, Gig Harbor, Issaquah, Kent, Lake Stevens, Lynnwood, Mill Creek, Moses Lake, Mountlake Terrace, Mukilteo, Poulsbo, Puyallup, Redmond, Renton, Sammamish, Seattle, Snohomish, Snoqualmie, Spokane, Sumner, Tacoma, Grant County EDC, Counties of Kitsap and Spokane, Olympic College, Ports of Bremerton, Moses Lake, Seattle, Tacoma, Wenatchee Valley College and Workforce Snohomish

Outside Dollars Leveraged: Contributing Partners – Financial Support: Aerospace Futures Alliance, Big Bend Community College, Center for Excellence, City of Arlington, City of Auburn, City of Everett, City of Marysville, City of Tukwila, EDC of Seattle-King County, Edmonds Community College, King County Department of Executive Services, Kitsap Aerospace and Defense Alliance, Pierce County Executive, Port of Everett, Snohomish County, Spokane International Airport, University of Washington – Seattle, Washington State University – Pullman, IAM and SPEEA

More Information: nma.choosewashingtonstate.com

Small Business, Entrepreneurship & Marketing Programs

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. This ecosystem includes programs focused on ideation, technical assistance, training and education and small business growth, from ideation through the second-stage. 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 a strategy for taking second-stage companies to the next level by removing roadblocks to growth. 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 in 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. Because of gaps in staffing for the program, employment figures were not reported in 2017 and 2018.

The program was expanded in 2019 to include internal as well as external issues preventing rapid growth for second-stage companies. The new program, Thrive!, is a partnership between the OEDC and the Edward Lowe Foundation.

Global Entrepreneurship Month (GEM) is a monthlong version of Global Entrepreneurship Week, which is an international celebration of entrepreneurship filled with seminars, workshops and competitions. Washington has been a leader in hosting these events since its inception. Working closely with local economic development partners, the state has exposed more than 15,000 residents to the idea of starting and running their own business.

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 that year. In 2019, the OEDC had coordinated and partnered on more than 300 events statewide, with at least one event in each county to return GEM 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.

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