Director's Update - February 2020

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Lisa Brown is on Twitter! Follow @WAComDirector today to start hearing more about Commerce priorities, successes and challenges. 

Place, partnerships guide community engagement on top priorities

Regionalism is one of the top themes framing the work of Commerce’s team this year. Washington state is diverse in many ways, from our economy and environment to our history and culture.  Diversity is one of our state’s greatest strengths, and it also poses some big challenges.

The unique attributes and aspirations of Washington’s cities, towns and Tribal nations vary greatly, requiring much more than a one-size-fits-all approach to our partnerships for community and economic growth.

Lisa Brown with Bob Ames in ChooseMason

Bob Ames, founder of Skokomish Mushrooms, shared his small business success story @ChooseMason annual event. Bob graduated from a training program funded in part by Commerce that helped his business expand. 

Continue reading 

Young people share stories, strength

Lisa and young person at OHY event

During a special event hosted by the Office of Homeless Youth in Olympia on Feb. 14, Lisa Brown chats with Angel Mullen, one of the young people who shared their stories of leaving state systems of care without a stable place to call home.  

Report recommends strategies to better support young leaving foster care and other systems  

Commerce recently released a report to the Legislature on improving stability for young people exiting state systems of care. The report's findings and recommendations were highlighted in a unique event on Feb. 14 in Olympia hosted by the state Office of Homeless Youth, featuring several young people recounting their own painful and inspiring stories. The process for developing the report was unique in that young people who have experienced various state systems had an integral voice at the table, along  with providers, state agencies and other stakeholders.

KOMO News covered the event, as did James Drew for the Tacoma News Tribune and Olympian.

The full report is linked here on Commerce's website:

Improving Stability for Young People Exiting Systems of Care 

Strengthening early learning opportunities

Bethel childcare center

Commerce recently awarded $17.2 million to expand access to high-quality early learning opportunities for more than 1,200 children throughout the state. 
One of the grant recipients in Bethel, Lewis County, (pictured, photo courtesy of is featured in the Daily Chronicle's story, and KXRO covered the news of $1.4 million that will increase facilities serving children in Grays Harbor, Pacific County. 

Learn more about this grant program

Working Washington

Silfab opening

Port of Bellingham welcomes Silfab expansion, new jobs

Gov. Inslee helped celebrate Silfab Solar's commitment to expanding operations on the Bellingham waterfront. Silfab, North America’s leading solar manufacturer, plans to invest at least $4 million to add more state-of-the-art manufacturing equipment to address growing demand for its American-made ultra-high-efficiency premium monocrystalline photovoltaic (PV) modules. Commerce provided a $250,000 grant to the Port of Bellingham to assist the expansion. An estimated 20-40 new jobs are expected when the newest wave of production ramps up later this year.

Read more

James Hardie ribbon cutting

Celebrating 20 years of growth with James Hardie in Tacoma

James Hardie Industries, the world-leading manufacturer of fiber cement siding and trim products for residential homes, multifamily dwellings and commercial buildings, together with Governor Jay Inslee, U.S. Representative Denny Heck, and Pierce County officials, celebrated a $187 million expansion near Tacoma to keep pace with continued growth. Up to 240 jobs will be added in time to the region. To get the project off the ground, Commerce granted $100,000 grant to the Economic Development Board for Tacoma-Pierce County to reimburse some pre-construction costs.


Betsy Davis NW Boat School

Boat School's Davis selected for Goldman Sachs 10,000

Congratulations to Betsy Davis, executive director of the Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding in Pt. Townsend! Davis was selected to participate in the Goldman Sachs 10,000 small business and entrepreneurship program.  Commerce is proud to be a supporter of school's maritime tech training programs.

Read all about it in The Leader


retirement marketplace logo

NEW! Check it out at

“Employers that offer a retirement savings plan benefit are more competitive in recruiting and retaining the best employees. The Retirement Marketplace removes barriers and allows easy access to retirement savings plans for business owners and workers. When people are better prepared to live comfortably in retirement, it strengthens communities and local economies.”  --- Lisa Brown, Commerce Director

Learn more


Join us for Economic Symposium 2020

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On the Road Again

Emily and Everett Mayor

Everett Mayor Cassie Franklin and Commerce Housing Trust Fund team member Emily Grossman pause for a proud selfie at the groundbreaking for local mental health care provider Compass Health's new 5-story, 47,000-sq. ft. building. Commerce is proud to invest $4.5 million to assist with 82 units of supportive housing that will transform lives in Snohomish County. See pics, read all about it in The Herald