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 Washington 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 the goal and identify recommendations. Commerce must convene 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.
The Washington Clean Manufacturing Leadership Act is created and directs Commerce to oversee an independent assessment of opportunities to capture new and emerging industries, and strengthen its existing manufacturing base. The independent assessment commissioned by Commerce must be shared with relevant stakeholders and the public by October 1, 2024. Commerce must use the independent assessment to develop the state industrial strategy by June 30, 2025.
The independent assessment has a variety of requirements that include, but are not limited to:
The assessment will not replace but may inform the manufacturing council, which advises and consults Commerce.
Commerce is directed to appoint an industrial policy advisor to ensure that Washington fully leverages available federal funding for manufacturing to meet the state's economic development goals.
Clarified the timeline of the bill to include the following deadlines:
The committee recommended a different version of the bill than what was heard. PRO: Manufacturing jobs provide pathways into the middle class for jobs. Many manufacturers have moved out of state and out of the country in search of more profits. The study in this bill will help us understand how the transition to zero emissions will impact the sector. Passing this bill will bring jobs back to Washington. We've worked hard to move away from fossil fuels to put us on clean energy. The emissions target for 2050 is exciting. We really need to work to make sure we are manufacturing things as cleanly as we can and that we are making things close to home.
OTHER: This bill is not in the Department of Commerce's budget. However, it does complement a lot of the work we do. It complements the BEST committee that was established two years ago. The new position would help us identify more federal funds opportunities for the manufacturing sector.