Washington: Home to Admired Companies

21 Aug, 2017

Strengthening the state’s key industries, expanding international trade, helping small businesses grow and providing training to workers are priorities of economic development in Washington.

Targeted industries include aerospace, agriculture and food manufacturing, clean technology, information and communication technology, life science/global health, maritime, forest products, and military and defense.

Key businesses in the state include the design and manufacture of jet aircraft, computer software development, online retailers, electronics, biotechnology, aluminum production, lumber and wood products, mining, and tourism. The state is the birthplace of economic giants such as Amazon, Boeing, Costco, Expedia, Microsoft, Nordstrom, PACCAR, Starbucks and REI. A Fortune magazine survey of the top 20 most admired companies in the U.S. included four Washington-based companies: Starbucks, Microsoft, Costco and Nordstrom.

Thousands of businesses export through the ports of the Puget Sound, making Washington the fourth largest exporting state in the U.S. The state is equidistant between Europe and Asia. In recent years, Washington exports have grown 20 percent.

As the largest producer of clean, sustainable hydroelectric power in the country as well as an early adopter of alternative energy sources such as wind and solar, Washington offers businesses low-cost energy (as low as 4.25¢ per kilowatt-hour) and a stable, scalable grid that can meet demanding user needs.

Washington Regional Sidebar

By Rachel Hamilton

Pierce County

“The Port of Tacoma has joined forces with the Port of Seattle to form the Northwest Port Alliance. We have a great port system to handle logistics,” says Pierce County Economic Development Director Denise Dyer. Tacoma is the largest city in Pierce County.

“Frederickson Industrial Area is booming as in no time in history,” Dyer says. Manufacturing facilities are under construction or making plans for construction there. “We’ve truly been discovered as a great place to do business.”

“We have no personal or corporate income tax [and] nice tax incentives,” says Dyer, also noting cost advantages in infrastructure and a large capacity for water treatment.

“We are an incredibly beautiful place to live, so it’s easy to attract talent,” Dyer says, explaining that tourism is a thriving industry in the area, due to attractions such as Puget Sound, Mt. Rainier National Park and an unusually dense cluster of museums.

Training talent is also easy in Pierce County, according to Dyer, as is finding talent that is already trained. “Veterans out of [Joint Base Lewis-McChord] are an amazing source of workforce for us,” Dyer says, noting that they are often hired for cyber security, team building and other skills for which the army is renowned.

Graduates from the Institute of Technology at Tacoma campus are often hired “right out of our institute because of the quality of education there,” says Dyer. “Forty percent of people who live in Pierce County leave it to work. They would much prefer to work [here]. That’s workforce to draw from.”

Aerospace, building supplies and food products are three of the area’s biggest industries. Boeing’s Air Bus operations alone have attracted “about 80 suppliers” according to Dyer.

“We’re truly welcoming to business,” Dyer says, explaining that Pierce County is especially welcoming to companies able to offer decent-paying jobs that are good for the environment.

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