Serving Communities

Collage photo for Building Communities showing contractors reviewing blueprints, an at-risk youth, a police officer and a carpenter finishing a roof

Building strong communities is essential to economic prosperity. Our name "Commerce" often makes people first think of us as championing business and economic development. We do that, but more important is the notion that a healthy, safe community is the foundation for economic prosperity. One can't exist without the other.

Community development and economic development are two sides of the same coin. Vibrant economies are the lifeblood for successful businesses and self-sufficient people. Our job at Commerce is to help counties, cities and towns achieve positive growth. We do that through a broad portfolio of programs, services and funding opportunities. We are partners in improving local buildings, water systems, schools, affordable housing, public safety, human services, parks and greenways, a clean environment and other essential community assets.

Two binders that say projects and funding rest on a desk among other office tools

Strengthening communities is at the heart of our work, and Washington's lawmakers entrust Commerce to invest about $1 billion of the state's capital budget each year. We work with counties, cities, ports and others around the state to build a better future for all of our residents.

And elderly man sits alone on a park bench

Shelter is a basic human need. Without a safe, decent place to live, people who may be struggling to survive have little hope of connecting with services and opportunities to tackle physical and mental health needs, go to school, get and hold down a job or provide for children and other family members. Stable housing is often the first hurdle to overcoming dependence and finding a pathway to self-sufficiency.

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To create quality communities, the Department of Commerce works hand-in-hand with local and regional agencies, law enforcement, nonprofit organizations and individuals to address the impact of crime, substance abuse and violence through advocacy, prevention and services to victims.

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Vibrant communities – places where people want to live, work and play – are critical to support economic activity. Rural communities have unique assets and challenges. Ask local leaders in towns outside of our urban centers what they need most to support their people and businesses, and the answers are as varied as the landscape and population of our state. Learn about what we can do to support your goals.


An aerial view of downtown Bellevue

The Department of Commerce oversees the state's Growth Management Plan activities, which helps local governments manage growth, from planning for critical areas and natural resource lands to designating urban growth areas and carrying out the plans through capital investments and development regulations.


Workers add framing to a new housing project

The Washington State Department of Commerce provides local governments, nonprofits and community action agencies with the tools they need to ensure that everyone is housed in their communities. Our work ranges from capital programs for increasing affordable housing stock to programs that prevent families from becoming homeless.

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Counties, cities and towns all over Washington connect with Commerce for resources, funding and services to help them grow. From water systems and other public infrastructure to sustainable growth planning and economic development, we provide or guide communities to the support they need to succeed.

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Weatherization programs for businesses and homeowners, grants to make public buildings more energy efficient, funding for groundbreaking clean tech R&D...these are just some of the ways Commerce is helping secure Washington State's clean energy future.

A man in a wheelchair waits for a wheelchair accessible bus to arrive at a bus stop

The Asset Building Program provides support to an array of local organizations to help improve the financial skills of low- and moderate-income families leading to long-term financial independence. WorkFirst contracts with community organizations across the state to help Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) recipients become gainfully employed.

 

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