Washington State can accelerate job growth and become the leading innovation hotspot of the world. So concludes the Washington Economic Development Commission's final report, Driving Washington's Prosperity -- A Strategy for Job Creation and Competitiveness.
In accepting the commission's report, Governor Inslee observed: "This is a new era for economic development, an era where embracing innovation, inclusiveness and accountability brings out the best in us." He added, "I appreciate the Commission's efforts to set this foundation for our state's future economic opportunity, jobs and quality of life."
In short, the plan offers a roadmap for the state to differentiate itself, attract new investment and help grow family wage jobs. According to Commission chairman Roger Woodworth, "Growth is stronger when resources are leveraged for impact and aligned with a cohesive policy framework. A focus on fundamentals, coupled with leadership and a long view, will yield a more resilient economy for our state," he said.
Among the Commission's findings, the state's substantial economic development efforts have tended to be short-term, narrowly focused, and rarely coordinated across agencies. Commission Executive Director, Egils Milbergs observed that, "Rigorous evaluation of economic development programs is infrequent, limiting the evidence policy makers and taxpayers need to judge performance. We can and must do better if we're to unleash creativity, accelerate job growth, and secure our technological leadership over foreign competitors."
The Commission's report advances a strategy to overcome this fragmented approach to economic development, identifying five key drivers for ensuring job creation and competitiveness:
- Make talent a top priority
- Invest in entrepreneurship
- Connect through reliable infrastructure
- Regulate in the smartest ways
- Expand international business
The report includes an analysis of the State's competitive strengths (such as in research and development, patent production, technology jobs growth, venture capital investment, manufacturing and exports) and weaknesses (such as in the rate of jobs recovery particularly in rural regions, in-state production of scientists and engineers, workforce skills, household income, investment in transportation infrastructure and foreign direct investment).
The Commission prepares the legislatively authorized report every other year. This year's plan is the result of multi-stakeholder dialogue among leaders in business, education, labor, economic development, and government. More than 650 stakeholders participated at 15 regional strategy forums.
Below are links to the strategy report and the series of evaluation reports to inform the plan and economic development mission of the State.
Economic Development Programs and Investments: Review of Evaluation Practices in Washington State http://www.wedc.wa.gov/Download%20files/Evaluation_Practices.pdf
Vital Signs for Economic Development http://www.wedc.wa.gov/Download%20files/Vital_Signs_for_Economic_Development.pdf
The Washington Economic Development Commission (WEDC) is an independent, non‐partisan commission established to assist the governor and legislature by providing leadership, direction, and guidance on a long‐term and systematic approach to economic development that will result in enduring global competitiveness, prosperity and economic opportunity for all the state's citizens. For more information on the state's economic development strategy, policy reports, meeting schedules and status of recommendations visit Washington Economic Development Commission at www.WEDC.wa.gov.