Regulatory Roadmaps

The Department of Commerce partners with local jurisdictions, state regulatory agencies and the business community to create Regulatory Roadmaps, online navigational guides that help improve the business regulatory experience. Businesses benefit from a single source of comprehensive information about requirements at the state and local levels, leading to a more predictable and efficient regulatory process. Businesses have been asking for this type of multi-jurisdictional, multi-agency, “from-the-perspective-of-the-business-owner” approach for a number of years.

Small business owner welding

The Regulatory Roadmap online business planning tools distill all local, regional and state requirements into easy-to-understand sequential worksheets and checklists for opening a restaurant, gauging feasibility of sites for manufacturing facilities, and soon for contractors.

The Regulatory Roadmap approach is based on four key principles:

  • Information and streamlining efforts should be based on looking through the lens of the businesses that are regulated.
  • Information should be presented based on what a business is trying to accomplish, and not based on individual permits, licenses or other requirements.
  • Regulatory requirements should be communicated as completely and as transparently as possible.
  • Because businesses deal with more than one agency, information from all the relevant state and local agencies should be integrated.


Commerce focused initially on the restaurant industry to pilot this approach of helping businesses through the regulatory process. Guided by businesses’ vision of what would provide the most value, we worked with the Seattle restaurant community, the city of Seattle, King County and several state agencies to develop the pilot online roadmap, which launched in Seattle in 2013.

The one-stop sites include easy-to-understand sequential worksheets and checklists for opening a restaurant. Restaurant roadmaps have also been launched in Spokane and Spokane Valley.


Building on the success of the restaurant Regulatory Roadmap sites, Commerce initiated Regulatory Roadmaps for Manufacturing, working with the cities of Arlington, Marysville and Lynnwood to create web-based materials to assist manufacturers in site selection. Information gleaned from surveys, group discussions and interviews with manufacturers on their regulatory experiences were compiled and used to prioritize streamlining opportunities. In 2019, Commerce started work on an online portal for manufacturers interested in site feasibility, working with the city of Sumner and Pierce County officials. The new online version of the portal, which allows manufacturers to search by selected criteria and compare sites, was launched in January 2020. The city of Tacoma has also joined in this effort to create an interactive site for regulatory and permitting requirements.

Moving Forward

Work is underway to create a Regulatory Roadmap for contractors, in accordance with legislative direction and funding. Other sectors and several local jurisdictions have expressed an interest in developing Regulatory Roadmaps for additional business sectors.

The Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, recognized Commerce’s Regulatory Roadmap initiative as a Top 25 Program in the 2017 Innovations in American Government Awards competition.

Regional Roadmaps

Commerce is helping cities across the state present local and state regulatory information in ways businesses can understand and use.

Roadmap for Restaurants

Roadmap for Contractors

Roadmap for Manufacturers


Robb Zerr, Managing Director
Rural, Small Business & Marketing Services
Phone: 206-256-6111

Chris Wills, Program Manager
Phone: 360-725-2728