2022 OEDC Stakeholder Report

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.

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