Budget cuts gut international trade, business development on the heels of successful summer trade show season

Summer months are often the busiest for Commerce teams and our community economic development partners who help Washington’s key industry sectors and small businesses connect with new business opportunities and investors at home and abroad. This year is no exception, with successful delegations to the International Paris Air Show, SelectUSA Investment Summit, BIO International and a state technology trade mission to Tokyo among the highlights. Unfortunately, deep budget cuts to Commerce’s Office of Economic Development and Competitiveness will mean significant scaling back for these important opportunities to market Washington state against our competitors and support some of our most promising companies and innovations.

International Paris Air Show

Washington state’s presence at the 52nd International Paris Air Show in June – the world’s premier gathering for the aerospace industry – was our largest ever. U.S. Congressman Rick Larsen co-led the delegation with Director Bonlender. Participants logged nearly 300 business meetings and some impressive wins. Read more in our June 22 press release.

SelectUSA Investment Summit

Also in June, Commerce and partners from Columbia River Economic Development Council, Seattle-King County Economic Development, and the Innovation Triangle Cities of Redmond-Kirkland-Bellevue attended the 2017 SelectUSA Investment Summit in Washington, D.C.

The SelectUSA Investment Summit is the highest-profile event dedicated to promoting foreign direct investment (FDI) in the United States. This signature event provides an unparalleled opportunity to bring together companies from all over the world, economic development organizations from every corner of the nation, and other parties working to facilitate business investment in the U.S. Featuring senior government officials, top corporate business executives and other thought leaders, each summit focuses on a timely theme related to the U.S. investment environment, industry trends and emerging opportunities. SelectUSA reported record attendance in 2017, with 2,800 participants from 51 states and territories, as well as companies and organizations from 64 global markets.

Commerce promoted investment opportunities available in the state of Washington with a well-positioned booth in the main exposition hall. We held more than 60 meetings with companies in a variety of industries from throughout the world, as well as with multiplier organizations and FDI-related service providers. The business development team is now hard at work following up on strong leads, including four significant near-term opportunities.

BIO International Convention

Commerce led a Washington state delegation to the 2017 BIO International Convention in San Diego, with 14 Washington life sciences industry organizations participating in the first-ever “Choose Washington” state pavilion at this major global event. See Washington’s Who’s Who at BIO

BIO is the largest worldwide gathering of the biotech industry that attracts more than 15,000 attendees from 60 countries. BIO attendees include thousands of leading companies, executives, academic institutions including the major research labs and government agencies, and top consultants and service companies.
Keynote addresses this year included former UK Prime Minister David Cameron speaking about Alzheimer’s research, and Ann Romney, former first lady of Massachusetts, who spoke about patient advocacy.

Tokyo Trade Mission

Commerce partnered with Innovation Finders Capital to showcase our state’s world-leading information and communications technology (ICT) sector and match 11 innovative small companies and startups with some of
Japan’s major enterprises and investors. The three-day trade mission focused on artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, advanced technology enabled by cloud computing – an arena where Washington leads the world.

Reports from the just-concluded Tokyo mission are positive, noting standing-room-only attendance for multiple presentations by the “Choose Washington” delegation members. Undaunted by a magnitude 3 earthquake on the morning of the final day, a hectic schedule of meetings included the Tokyo offices of Deloitte & Touche, where some of that global firm’s most important clients such as Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Toto and Tokyo Electric Power Company, came to hear pitches from the Washington companies.

“Washington state is a great environment for product development and manufacturing. The indigenous tech workforce here is a huge advantage – this is our message to Japanese companies,” said Tom Sato, CEO of Innovation Finders Capital.

Gov. Jay Inslee set the foundation for this trade mission by signing a memorandum of understanding with Japan in 2016, signifying agreement to promote cooperative research and information exchange with the aim of expanding opportunities for technological and investment partnership in business and industry.

Download the tech trade mission directory for more information about the participants and stats on Washington’s ICT sector.

Many small and start-up tech companies would find it challenging if not impossible to gain access to multiple chief executives and investors from major corporations without the expertise, organization and support provided by the Department of Commerce through a state-sanctioned international trade mission. Individual export counseling, market intelligence, matchmaking and small business trade expansion vouchers are some of the crucial export assistance programs provided by Commerce.

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