Agency Director Brian BonlenderBrian Bonlender was appointed director of Commerce by Governor Jay Inslee in January 2013. Under his leadership, the department has revitalized and increased the state’s economic development capabilities, expanded and linked its economic and community development programs, implemented a metrics-driven performance system and refocused around the shared purpose of strengthening communities.

Delivering energy savings and health benefits to low-income communities

Commerce’s Low-Income Weatherization Assistance program has helped struggling families around the state for 39 years. As available funding continues to lag the significant need for help in keeping housing for low-income Washingtonians affordable, energy efficient and healthy, we’re experimenting with new ways to attack the most pressing problems. One vexing problem is a “catch-22” issue: many low-income houses, particularly in rural areas, are not eligible for some existing weatherization assistance

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Affordable Housing Solutions

News this month of housing prices and rents beginning to stabilize or even soften is welcome, given the overheated markets that had priced out many potential homeowners. Even so, there’s still a long way to go when we look at affordable housing for opportunities for workers in lower wage groups and people on fixed incomes. Options for adequate housing, let alone home ownership, for many remain few and far between

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Virtual reality helps prepare people for reentry after incarceration

Christopher Poulos marked his first year as executive director of Gov. Inslee’s Statewide Reentry Council this month. Poulos recently visited the Paul. G. Allen Center for Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Washington, where an innovative program is using virtual reality to help individuals prepare for new lives outside of incarceration. Poulos, an attorney and celebrated advocate for criminal justice reforms, was himself formerly incarcerated. Learn more about the Statewide Reentry Council’s

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Update on trade news from around the world

Chris Green, head of Commerce’s Office of Economic Development and Competitiveness, attended the China International Import Summit in Shanghai earlier this month. We continue to address intellectual property and other challenges while also working to maintain and grow international relationships that are so vital to our state’s economy, even as more uncertainty emerges from the Trump administration. Here’s an update on recent trade news stories from around the world: The

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Finding ways to be more efficient, increase housing supply

Remarks by Washington State Department of Commerce Director Brian Bonlender, as prepared for the Housing Washington Conference, Oct. 3, 2018. I’m Brian Bonlender, Director of the Washington State Department of Commerce. I’m delighted to join you this afternoon and have the opportunity to hear from Chris Herbert. Before we kick off, I’d like to take just a few minutes to share an update from our agency. This was a banner

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Vietnam-Washington State Trade and Investment Summit hosted in Renton

Our state economy is deeply engaged in trade in Asia – Pacific Rim markets. Vietnam ranked 10th for imports to Washington, led by apparel and footwear, while it is just 32nd as an export market for Washington goods such as aircraft and agricultural commodities. Commerce was pleased to join the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Seattle Chamber, Hanoi Promotion Agency and Vietnam Software and IT Service Association in co-organizing an investment summit

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Washington state’s economic miracle continues

You may recall that CNBC ranked Washington America’s Top State for Business, Business Insider ranked our economy #1, and we led the nation in state GDP growth the last two years. Now, we’ve been named the best state for workers by Oxfam America. The organization based its findings on wages, worker protections and workers’ rights in all 50 states and the nation’s capital — and only the District of Columbia topped the Evergreen State. The state’s new paid family and

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New study ranks Washington #1 for aerospace manufacturing

High scores for industry, infrastructure and economy pushed Washington to the top of the list in a new report from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) on aerospace manufacturing attractiveness internationally and among U.S. states. The paper notes in particular our 1,400+ aerospace companies and the highest concentration of aerospace jobs in America. Next closest competitor states are Texas and Georgia. South Carolina ranks #17. The PwC study is the second major independent effort placing Washington

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“Trade need not be a zero-sum proposition.”

I had the honor of speaking to several hundred Chinese and local businesses, government officials, investors and entrepreneurs about trade policy issues and our state’s long and strong commitment to international cooperation. The Shenzhen China-USA investment Forum, Aug. 28 in Seattle, showcased strong ties, opportunities in technology and innovation. These were my remarks (as drafted).

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“Complete Streets” grant nominations close Sept. 24

Commerce will be nominating up to 11 cities or counties for the Transportation Improvement Board’s “Complete Streets Award,” with grants between $100,000 and $1 million to be awarded in January 2019. Complete Streets is a program to encourage communities to design streets and roads for all users. Applications are due to Commerce by Sept. 24. Cities and counties with a population of 10,000 or less encouraged to apply.

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Washington Leads Nation in State GDP Growth; Unemployment at Lowest Level Since 2007

Once again, Washington posted top GDP numbers of all U.S. states:  3.6% for the first quarter of 2018 against 1.8% nationwide. This comes after our leading annual GDP growth in both 2016 and 2017. A soaring information communication tech (ICT) sector contributed more than half of our overall growth at 1.9 percentage points. Washington’s tech industry is still hiring as fast as companies can find qualified workers, according to Dr.

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