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Economic Development

  

The Department of Commerce has a mission to grow and improve jobs in Washington State by championing thriving communities, a prosperous economy, and sustainable infrastructure.
 
Commerce Director Brian Bonlender reorganized the Department in 2013 and established the Office of Economic Development and Competitiveness. The new OEDC engaged business and industry leaders to help recruit and support a team of professionals to collaborate on policies and growth strategies in target sectors. Along with cohorts serving Business Development, Marketing and International Trade, the Commerce team is focused on a five-part agenda to drive economic growth for all of Washington State:
  • Economic Climate
  • Sector-based Economic Development
  • Workforce Development
  • Startup Washington
  • Small Business, Rural and Underserved Communities

   



BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT

Commerce’s business development team headed by Assistant Director Mary Trimarco advances the Governor’s goal of collaborative, targeted company recruitment, retention and expansion work, both domestically and internationally. Together with local economic development organizations, education and labor leaders, local government entities, and elected officials around the state, the Business Services Division at Commerce executes a full court press to support existing businesses and site new ones in our state.
 
Learn more about how Washington Builds Business Legends, and find services and experts to assist you with a new project, site selection, customized workforce training, exporting and more at www.choosewashington.com
 

OFFICE OF ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND COMPETITIVENESS

Our sector-based economic development strategy is a reflection of the fact that we face intense international and interstate competition for good jobs. We have to be constantly vigilant about identifying opportunities and strategies for supporting existing employers and cultivating new ones in Washington -- we can’t rely on luck for the next Boeing, Microsoft or Amazon to land here.

 
Alex Pietsch, Executive Director, OEDC, Director, Office of Aerospace

Alex Pietsch serves as the Director of the state's Office of Aerospace, appointed to the role by Governor Christine Gregoire. As director, Alex serves as the principal adviser on aerospace-related issues and coordinates activities to promote growth of the industry throughout the state. He also directs the Washington Aerospace Partnership, a collaboration between government, business and labor to realize its vision of Washington—the recognized worldwide center of excellence in aerospace innovation, design and manufacturing.  Before joining Commerce, Alex served as Administrator of the City of Renton’s Department of Community and Economic Development which has oversight of all land use planning and building activities in the city, economic development and intergovernmental relations.  Prior to this role, Alex worked as Marketing & Public Relations Manager for Wright Runstad & Company. He was also a television news anchor, working at stations in Flagstaff, Arizona, Bishop, California, and Yakima, Washington. He earned his bachelor’s degree in history and communications from Washington State University.
 
Wilford Saunders, Director of Economic Development for the Information and Communication Technologies Sector

Before being named Director of Economic Development for the Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) sector, Wilford served as the Director of the Washington State Broadband Office where he worked closely with IT professionals, educators, public and private providers and ADOs across the state to increase broadband coverage and connectivity. He has worked on communications and technology issues for the state since 2005, including posts in telephone regulation and the state’s IT agency. Wilford is a true “networks guy,” his first role in telecommunications handling FCC reporting and project logistics for a small satellite telephone company in Seattle. 
 
Maura Little, Director of Economic Development for the Life Sciences Sector

As Director of Economic Development for the Life Sciences sector for the state of Washington, Maura supports the development of the life science and global health industry, including working with industry leaders on recruitment, retention and expansion of the sector statewide. She entered the life science and global health industry as a member of Congressman Jay Inslee, serving as his point of contact at the state-level for trade associations, business leaders, government agencies and elected officials. She worked closely with the industry to connect local talent and promote the sector within Congress. During her time in Washington, D.C., she helped Congressman Inslee pass multiple amendments on both committee and house floors. Before joining the Department of Commerce, Maura served as the Washington State Director of Government Relations for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, working with legislators and the Insurance Commissioner to ensure patient access and safety was being addressed during the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. She is a graduate of the University of Washington where she studied political science and serves as a public member of the Pharmacy Quality Assurance Commission.

Steve Sewell,  Director of Economic Development for the Maritime Sector

As the Director of Economic Development for the Maritime sector, Steve draws on his 25 years of experience in the transportation industry to work closely with industry stakeholders and other government agencies to retain, grow and expand jobs in the state’s maritime industries. Before joining Commerce, Steve was Senior Vice President and a founding executive of LoadStar—a subsidiary of Hutchison Port holdings, the world’s largest container port operator where he was responsible for business development, customer relations, marketing, government relations, contracts and administration.  Prior to joining LoadStar, he served in a similar position as Senior Vice President for Savi Networks as well as President of PB Ports and Marine, Inc. He’s also held several executive management positions at the Port of Seattle, including Managing Director of the seaport where he was responsible for marketing, development and operations of all port facilities, including container terminals, cruise ship terminals, recreational and fishing marinas, warehousing and distribution facilities and commercial real estate. Steve began his career as an attorney, serving as King County Senior Deputy Prosecuting Attorney and then General Counsel for the Port of Seattle. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Washington and his Juris Doctorate from Willamette University, and has served on the Board of Directors of a number of public and charitable organizations.
 
Kristiné Reeves,  Director of Economic Development for the Military and Defense Sector
 
A Washington native, Kristiné serves as the Director of Economic Development for the Military and Defense sector, focusing on the public and private elements of economic development as it relates to infrastructure, suppliers and contractors and community advocacy and public infrastructure organizations. Before joining the Department of Commerce, she served as the Kitsap & Olympic Peninsula Director, the South Sound Regional Director and the Statewide Veterans Constituency Coordinator for U.S. Senator Patty Murray. As a staff member of the senator’s staff, Kristiné was instrumental in facilitating a Senate Veterans Affairs Committee Field Hearing in Tacoma, increasing networking and relationship development with the Navy and the Army, and worked intimately on military transition and workforce development issues in the state. Kristiné received her bachelor’s degree in political science from Washington State University-Pullman and her master’s degree in Organizational Leadership from Gonzaga University. She is currently working on her Ph.D. in Public Policy and Administration.
    
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