Working to build a better Washington

March 27, 2017|Director's Update

Friends,

Our role at Commerce is to strengthen communities – helping Washington become an even better place to live, work and play.

While Seattle and the Puget Sound region garner attention because of strong job growth, not all areas of the state are recovering as quickly. We need more emphasis on rural and underserved communities to help them recover, too.

We are doing that in a variety of important ways. We are working to direct our small business services programs, like export assistance and economic gardening, to capture more businesses from rural and underserved communities.  We recently assisted with funding for improvements to the Covington City Park in King County. We’re helping the city of Pateros in Okanogan County recover from the Carlton Complex Fires by providing funding to restore and update their damaged water system.

Looking at the state as whole, we know many communities face a crisis in homelessness, which affects their ability to attract and retain businesses. Washington is now the third most expensive state in the U.S. in which to buy a house, and the Seattle metro area is now more expensive than New York’s, exceeded only by California.

The housing affordability crisis is fueling the homelessness crisis by drastically increasing the number of households barely making ends meet while being only one life event away from homelessness. Affordable housing and homelessness remain our agency’s greatest priorities. While there may be no easy answers, we are committed to turning the tide on homelessness.

We can be proud of the fact that Washington was near the top of US News & World Report’s annual Best States report in late February. Our rank at number 5 underscored many of the most outstanding attributes of our state. However, we have to recognize that issues like our geographically uneven economic recovery and housing affordability crisis have material impacts on people throughout the state and jeopardize our standing in rankings like these.

Prosperity and opportunity start with strong communities, and that’s the core purpose of our work at Commerce.

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