As the global pandemic runs its course, Washington State is poised to recover more quickly than other parts of the United States. The state is fortunate to have built a diversified portfolio of high-growth industries over the decades, led by a flourishing technology sector and a well-earned reputation for groundbreaking creativity and innovation.
Home to such well-known companies as Amazon, Costco, Expedia, Microsoft, Nordstrom, PACCAR, REI and Starbucks, Washington State offers businesses and investors unparalleled opportunities for exponential growth, partnership and financial success.
Few places in the United States have a workforce that is more educated, skilled and ready to help businesses succeed than Washington State. More than 90 percent of workers have a high school diploma and 35.3 percent have a college or university degree. In Bloomberg’s annual ranking of Innovative States, Washington ranks #1 in science and engineering degrees and #2 in STEM concentration.
Culture of Creativity
Washington is a melting pot of smart people with bold ideas. The state ranks #4 in U.S. patents, and Washington’s reputation for problem-solving has led 100 of the most innovative companies in the world to open engineering and research and development offices in recent years. The Creative Economy is anchored by venture capitalists, angels, incubators and workspaces and supported by cutting-edge R&D from world-class universities, colleges and a national laboratory – one of only 10 in the United States.
Nearly 75 percent of Washington’s energy comes from clean, sustainable hydroelectric power that is plentiful and inexpensive, the lowest per kilowatt-hour rate in the United States. The state also offers competitively priced natural gas delivered by pipeline from Canada. The state’s leaders have mandated that 100 percent of all energy be derived from clean energy sources by 2045, creating new opportunities in energy production, transmission and storage.
Washington State is known around the world for its stunning scenery, rich culture and friendly, welcoming residents. When it comes to the best places to make a living or start a business – based on income taxes, cost of living, employment and workplace environment – Washington is consistently ranked #1. Washington State prides itself on its diversity and inclusion and its breathtaking natural landscape that is as inspirational as it is beautiful.
World-Class Supply Chain
Washington’s deepwater ports, airports and sophisticated manufacturing infrastructure provide businesses with unparalleled access to raw materials, just-in-time components, and a broad selection of local and regional business partners in just about every industry imaginable. Supported by a flexible transportation system and a network of top-tier suppliers, the state offers a trusted, diverse supply chain that responds quickly to changing market conditions.
A Centralized Export Hub
More than 12,000 Washington businesses are engaged in trade, 90 percent of small and medium-sized businesses are exporting goods to 215 different countries. Washington is equidistant by air between Europe and Asian markets and a day or two closer by sea to key Asian ports. The largest port operation – the Northwest Seaport Alliance – is the fourth-largest port in the U.S. for containerized cargo, handling 18 international shipping lines.
A High-Growth Sector Strategy
While supporting its legacy industries, Washington looks to the promising sectors of the future to drive additional growth. Commercial space exploration, unmanned aerial systems, medical devices, virtual reality, quantum computing, electrified and autonomous vehicles, and cross-laminated timber are creating new jobs and exciting new opportunities around the state.
Washington has been at the forefront of the aerospace industry for more than a century, designing some of the most advanced aircraft, unmanned aerial systems and space exploration vehicles the world has ever seen. The state’s 1,300+ aerospace companies develop and produce products and provide services for every aircraft manufacturer and airline in the world, including Airbus, Boeing, Bombardier and Embraer. Building on its rich history of aerospace innovation, Washington has a rapidly-growing space cluster as well, anchored by Aerojet Rocketdyne, Blue Origin, Spaceflight Industries and SpaceX.
Agriculture & Food Manufacturing
The state’s 39,500 farms grow, produce and ship 300 different crops, and Washington is the #1 producer of apples, sweet cherries, pears, asparagus, raspberries, and hops in the U.S. The state is also a leader in seafood production, second only to Alaska. Washington offers manufacturers and processors of fresh fruit and vegetable crop tax incentives and deductions to encourage investment and economic growth.
Washington is a major player in developing new, renewable and sustainable energy sources while protecting the environment. Businesses are engaged in an array of research and development projects utilizing wind, solar, tidal, battery storage systems and grid management technologies to reduce the state’s carbon footprint and achieve a 100 percen clean energy portfolio by 2045. To meet this aggressive goal, the state manages a multi-million dollar Clean Energy Fund to help researchers, utilities and companies explore new energy technologies.
Forest products have played a central role in Washington’s economy since pioneer families first settled in the state and today, it’s the third-largest manufacturing industry. From the beginning, Washington struck a careful balance between productivity and stewardship, recognizing that timber could be treated as an agricultural crop that could be managed and nurtured. Today, the industry covers a wide range of business lines, from tree harvesting and lumber production to building materials, pulp and paper and increasingly, cross-laminated timber (CLT) products.
Information & Communication Technology (ICT)
With technology giants Microsoft and Amazon as industry anchors, Washington is home to more than 14,000 ICT companies focused primarily on hardware, software, gaming, cloud computing, mobile apps, virtual and augmented reality and artificial intelligence. ICT firms employ more than 200,000 workers and talent continues to flow into the state from throughout the world, drawn by Washington’s entrepreneurial spirit, world-class companies and energetic tech centers where cooperation and collaboration are the norms, not the exception.
Life Science/Global Health
Anchored by the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Allen Institute, and the University of Washington, the life science sector employs more than 36,000 researchers and support staff. The global health cluster employs an additional 12,000 workers at organizations such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Billions of dollars in research funds and venture capital flow into the state annually, allowing researchers to explore new advances in medicine, medical devices, biopharma and life-saving technologies, including COVID diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines. The University of Washington recently ranked first in technologies-licensed and commercialization agreements and tripled its grant awards over the last two decades.
Washington’s maritime sector encompasses 2,300 companies employing nearly 69,500 workers. The sector is divided into seven main business lines: Cargo Handling & Logistics; Fishing & Seafood Processing; Ship & Boat Building, Repair & Maintenance; Passenger Vessel Operations; Recreational Boating; Military Support; and Support Services & Marine Technology. A significant focus of the maritime industry is Maritime Blue, a strategy to ensure that Washington State is home to the most sustainable maritime industry by 2050.
Washington businesses have helped usher in the age of jet travel, discovered revolutionary cures for life-threatening diseases, blazed new trails in computing and communications, and in the process, fundamentally changed the way people shop, travel, eat, drink, relax, dress and think.
To learn more about opportunities in Washington State, contact one of our business or trade specialists at (206) 256-6100 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.