Department of Commerce.
The Department of Commerce (Commerce) is the lead state agency tasked with enhancing and promoting community and economic vitality in Washington. As the agency responsible for growing the state economy, it supports sector leads in areas such as aerospace, agriculture and food manufacturing, clean technology, information and communication technology, the creative economy, forest products, life sciences and biotechnology, maritime, and the military. Sector leads work closely with the Governor, industry heads, and government leaders to develop strategies to support business growth statewide.
The Washington BEST Manufacturing Act.
In 2021 the Legislature passed The Washington BEST Manufacturing Act (Act), which directed Commerce to develop a biennial report on the state of the manufacturing and research and development industry and workforce. The report must identify progress or challenges the state has encountered in achieving its manufacturing goals and identify recommendations. The Act required Commerce to establish a Manufacturing Council to advise and consult on the development of the biennial report and recommendations. The Act also established a workforce innovation sector lead within Commerce.
Commerce must perform an independent assessment of opportunities for Washington to capture new and emerging industries that align with statewide greenhouse gas reduction limits and strengthen its existing manufacturing base. The independent assessment must be submitted to the appropriate committees of the Legislature by October 1, 2024. Commerce must use the independent assessment to develop a state industrial strategy by June 1, 2025.
The independent assessment must include, but is not limited to:
Commerce must appoint an industrial policy advisor to ensure that Washington fully leverages available federal funding for manufacturing to meet the state's economic development goals and statutory greenhouse gas emissions reductions and guide implementation of state industrial strategy. The industrial policy advisor must:
(In support) To preserve jobs in manufacturing, an analysis of the barriers and how to reduce them is needed. The barriers may include lack of electricity, broadband, or infrastructure. There are many opportunities and investments for green jobs and manufacturing. The economy will need to be smart and nimble to ensure access to supply chains and a trained workforce. This bill helps by creating a study to determine what is needed to increase investment in the state. To power the economy cleanly, there needs to be a rapid increase in the production of clean energy technology and low carbon materials. One of the best ways to do this would be to make these materials in Washington. This bill will help make sure the state does not lose future manufacturing opportunities by transforming and preserving the existing manufacturing base through a state industrial strategy.
Washington is committed to doubling its manufacturing base and reducing greenhouse gases, both critical goals for the environment and the economy. These goals should be addressed simultaneously to achieve success. This bill will address both goals by creating a state industrial policy. The additional capacity in Commerce will help the state take advantage of future federal funding opportunities for manufacturing. There is a need for small manufacturers to have a partner in the state to help them collect federal dollars that are tied to clean manufacturing. The dollars are tied to clean technology, so Washington will fall behind if it does not focus on clean technology.