2023 OEDC Stakeholder Report

This report to the economic community is intended to highlight the work of the Office of Economic Development & Competitiveness (OEDC) as of Dec. 31, 2023. Where possible, the data covers approximately five or more 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 serving as a think tank for reshaping the state’s economy for years to come. By focusing on global innovation and small businesses as key growth strategies, we can forge new opportunities in communities large and small across the state.

Innovation has been the foundation of the state’s economic growth for more than a century. New investments in specific high-growth sectors will continue to pay dividends to the state for decades to come. Small businesses are the primary drivers of the economy and given the support they need, can create living-wage jobs and provide upward mobility to those who have been historically marginalized.

To build the economy of the future, we are committed to:

      • Increasing access to capital
      • Improving and standardizing data collection
      • Identifying and filling gaps in technical assistance, training and education
      • Leveraging and deepening existing partnerships statewide
      • Expanding opportunities for international trade
      • Improving site readiness and streamlining permitting
      • Identifying and securing federal and other funding where possible

    This body of work is supported by a large network of economic partners throughout Washington to build a robust, diverse and stable economy, focusing primarily on businesses in rural and historically underserved and underrepresented communities. This includes Commerce’s Small Business Resiliency Network, associate development organizations (ADOs), Small Business Development Centers, SCORE offices and other state and federal agencies.

The OEDC is aligned along six core economic development strategies: 1) Business Development, 2) Export Assistance, 3) Key Sectors, 4) Small Business Finance and Community Outreach, 5) Small Business Training, Education and 6) Business & Visitor Attraction.

The teams within these units are focused on:

  • Underserved & Rural Economies: The OEDC and its many partners work together on the Washington Small Business Training & Education Center to support the evolving needs of entrepreneurs, startups and small businesses throughout the state. The MyStartup365.com website offers a progression of programs and services designed to build competencies and skills throughout the five stages of a business: Think, Form, Launch, Grow and Optimize. The goal is to provide universal access to the same skillsets, resources, education and training to allow any resident to successfully start, own and operate a business, even in the smallest of communities.
  • Business Recruitment & Investment: By developing, curating and responding to leads from global consultants and investors, the OEDC focuses on business attraction and investment activities so businesses worldwide will actively consider Washington State for their expansion activities. The team also focuses on business retention and expansion support for companies already doing business in the state.
  • Key Sectors: Working closely with the Governor, legislators, industry and the private sector, Sector Leads represent the state’s high-growth industries – Aerospace, Aviation & Space, Clean Technology, Creative Economy, Forest Products, Information & Communication Technology (ICT), Life Science & Global Health; Maritime; and Military –  as well as new innovation clusters.  The focus of these programs is forging and promoting public-private partnerships, enhancing the workforce for the 21st century in targeted, high-growth industries, and advancing broad-stroke strategies that support small business growth and expansion statewide.
  • Promoting Washington State: The OEDC manages the state’s promotional arm, in terms of attracting businesses, investment and visitors to Washington State using traditional and digital strategies, including marketing, social media, websites, collateral and messaging to demonstrate why visitors and business owners should choose Washington. The OEDC also serves as the state’s conduit for promoting tourism through the Washington Tourism Marketing Authority.
  • Small Business Finance and Community Support: This new group is charged with developing innovative loan programs that are targeted to small businesses that are often unable to attain traditional funding from financial institutions. The unit also oversees the many pandemic-related grant programs the OEDC has been responsible for.
  • 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. In response to the pandemic, the Small Business Export Assistance team shifted their efforts to online webinars to teach exporting competencies and participated in virtual trade shows that were held in place of physical ones in Europe and Asia.

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:

  • 81 new, retained or expanded businesses, 34.5% of them in rural and underserved parts of the state.
  • 15,844 new or retained jobs across the state.
  • $2.73 billion in new or continued capital investment in Washington’s economy.
  • 1,138 small businesses awarded STEP grants to expand into new markets overseas.
  • STEP export voucher program to localize their websites and develop e-commerce platforms, identify foreign buyers via B2B matchmaking meetings, attend foreign trade shows and missions, participate in export training, perform compliance testing for entry into an export market, develop international marketing materials, and other services.
  • 3,976 small businesses assisted with export issues related to tariffs, paperwork, foreign trade zones and reseller permits.
  • $1 billion in new export sales from participation in international trade shows as part of the Washington State delegation.
  • 1,226 small businesses have gone through the state’s ScaleUp program that provides essential skills to business owners to remove roadblocks to further growth.
  • 178,122  unique visitors to the state’s business attraction site in 2023, an increase of 6.3% over 2022.
  • 126,114 visits to MyStartup365.com, the state’s Small Business Training & Education site. The site’s traffic has increase 10 fold since pre-pandemic levels, thanks in large part to the addition of new content and programs.
  • 100 businesses, mostly in historically marginalized communities, received Go Global grants to help them improve their online presence, add ecommerce or further strengthen their digital marketing strategies.
  • Serving as the lead agency on major economic recovery initiatives to ensure an economy that is equitable, inclusive and diverse, helping small businesses start, restart and rebuild, particularly in rural and historically underserved communities, and positioning the state to seize opportunities in emerging clusters and key sections, including commercial space, clean energy, artificial intelligence, quantum computing, and unmanned and autonomous vehicles.
  • Sponsoring dozens of trade shows and trade missions (most virtually, due to the global pandemic), that expose the state’s small businesses to overseas markets and opportunities, including the Paris and Farnborough Air Shows, Hannover Messe, Mobile World Congress and MEDICA.
  • Commerce has 11 overseas trade representatives covering 23 countries. Throughout the pandemic, this network of consultants has been critical to connect Washington companies with potential customers/partners/distributors and help small businesses explore new export opportunities.

Staffing & Budget