Lisa Brown, Commerce DirectorLisa J. Brown, Ph.D., was appointed Commerce director by Gov. Inslee and began serving the agency in February of 2019.
Prior to serving as Commerce director, she served as chancellor of Washington State University, where she led the health science campus in Spokane.
Lisa served in the Washington State Legislature from 1996 – 2013 in the Senate where she was majority leader and chaired the Rules Committee, Ways and Means Committee, and Energy, Technology and Telecommunications Committee. She served in the state House of Representatives from 1993 – 1996, where she was minority whip and minority floor leader.
She has worked extensively on economic development in Eastern Washington and on gender equity.
Prior to state office, she was an associate professor of economics at Eastern Washington University and an associate professor of leadership at Gonzaga University.
Lisa earned her bachelor’s degree in economics at the University of Illinois and her master’s and doctoral degrees in economics from the University of Colorado in Boulder.

Image of highlighter in definition of legislation

80 new programs entrusted to Commerce expand agency responsibilities and impact

The new fiscal year is underway, and Commerce is ramping up our work strengthening communities with dozens of new programs, additional funding and partnerships entrusted to us by the Legislature. Much of our work over the past year and a half was dedicated to pandemic response and recovery. The tremendous efforts and successes of our Commerce team spurred more responsibilities and opportunities for us to extend that work as Washington

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Washington State Capitol Building

Historic budget accelerates investments in helping businesses, families and local governments rebound and grow

As you are likely aware by now, the 2021-23 state biennial budget makes historic investments in Washington’s recovery and growth trajectory coming out of the pandemic. At Commerce, we are preparing for significant work ahead as we implement a $2.7 billion operating budget and $2.4 billion in capital funding. Our team is growing – we’re recruiting exceptional team members, so I invite you to check out and share positions currently

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Working Washington Grants: Round 4 application open now

Over the last year, Washington state has provided small businesses throughout the state with more than $125 million in grants to address the economic outfall of COVID-19. This effort continues with a new round of grant opportunities being managed by the Washington State Department of Commerce. The state Legislature approved $240 million for this latest round, making it our largest so far. Working Washington Grants Round 4 offers grant relief funds

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Commerce launches new Office of Firearm Safety and Violence Prevention

Shalisa Hayes is a mother with a mission. In August 2011, she experienced the deepest pain a mother could feel — the loss of her young son who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Billy Ray Shirley III was 17 years old. He was shot and killed leaving a party in Tacoma, WA. For Hayes, this wasn’t her first brush with gun violence. She had lost her

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Can we land the world’s largest firefighting airtanker here in WA?

Last week, I joined Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Hilary Franz, Congressman Dan Newhouse, Reps. Tom Dent and Judy Warnick and several other local leaders in Moses Lake for a demonstration of the Global Supertanker. Once a commercial aircraft, it’s now the world’s largest firefighting airtanker. Our state is hoping to make a home for it at Moses Lake where it can not only be readily deployed to combat increasingly

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Map of International Representations

Washington’s leaders focus on opening up international trade opportunities for small businesses

Commerce now has in-country representation in 10 countries helping our state’s small businesses grow through exporting and international business partnerships The math speaks for itself. Export opportunities are a winning opportunity for Washington businesses. Jobs: At least one in four jobs in Washington state is connected to exports. The state’s economy is more closely aligned with international trade than any other state. Markets: More than 80% of the world’s purchasing

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OPINION: How the coronavirus changed Washington state’s economy

It seems so long ago and yet just like yesterday when countries around the world began initiating shutdowns in response to a deadly virus we knew almost nothing about. Companies shifted millions of employees to telework. Schools closed. Offices and storefronts were shuttered. In-person events were canceled. For a while we wondered if these changes would be temporary. They were not. One year later, in this historic economic downturn, we’re

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Hidden impacts fueling uneven economic recovery

As we’ve seen throughout this historic economic downturn, some industries and communities continue to experience the impact of the pandemic very differently. Some impacts are clear as public health measures have required prolonged closures or curtailment of restaurants, bars, gyms and gathering places. Others are less obvious, but no less challenging. As we learn, work and spend more time at home, businesses that remain open and fully operational are also

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End of the year review 2020

A year like no other: Commerce teams step up to take on 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic barreled in to 2020 like a wrecking ball. As a relatively small state agency with about 370 employees who lead nearly 100 programs related to economic and community development, every team within the state Department of Commerce was called in to the response in some way.

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Office of Indian Affairs Logo

31st Annual Centennial Accord draws on wisdom and experience to meet our common challenges

​By Commerce Tribal Liaison Ernie Rasmussen The government-to-government relationship between the State of Washington and the 29 sovereign Tribes of Washington state, along with two Tribes from Oregon, is not wholly unique.  Most state governments that have Tribes within their boundaries work to honor the inherent Tribal sovereignty as defined by Supreme Court Justice John Marshall in the early 1800s.  What is unique here is Washington State Law (RCW 43.376)

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Broadband Updates: More rural communities are getting connected

Completing homework, filing important forms, visiting with the doctor, ordering groceries and prescriptions – the COVID pandemic has made it abundantly clear that high-speed internet service is the critical lifeline for our most basic daily interactions. New partnerships and emerging technologies are bringing broadband to more rural communities every day, including some notable advances in recent weeks. The Hoh Tribe of Indians is using SpaceX’s StarLink satellite network to connect

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Recovery data reveal opportunity amidst ongoing hardship in key sectors and groups

Statewide data gives us a broad overview of Washington’s economy, but it’s when we drill down into the numbers by industry sector, region or demographics that we see important differences. Some of these deeper data offer insight into areas of focus for encouraging equitable and sustainable recovery. For example, recent monthly data compiled in Commerce’s Economic Recovery Dashboard reveal strong growth in the sector comprised of agriculture, forestry, fishing and

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