Small business owner welding

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.

Regulatory Roadmaps

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 successes of the restaurant Regulatory Roadmap sites, we began working with Snohomish County manufacturers and partner jurisdictions to develop a Regulatory Roadmap for assessing site feasibility for manufacturing facilities. Information gleaned from surveys, group discussions, and interviews with manufacturers on their regulatory experiences was compiled and used to prioritize streamlining opportunities. The manufacturer representatives cited lack of predictability and lack of transparency as key factors that affect the cost and success of their expansion projects. Commerce worked with the city of Arlington to customize the first manufacturing roadmap site, which was launched in March 2016. We used that site as a template for the other manufacturing partners. The Marysville site launched in August 2016, Lynnwood launched in early 2017, and other partner city roadmaps will follow. Feedback on the manufacturing roadmap sites has been very positive, including anecdotal comments from manufacturers about the tools being able to save significant time on a siting project. The central tool on the sites is a custom interactive spreadsheet that asks questions related to regulatory thresholds, and provides the user with the specific requirements that appear to apply to their situation. This customization has been our most significant innovation, while cost and time estimates help owners understand if a potential site will pencil out.

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. Read more

Roadmap for Restaurants

Commerce is helping cities across the state present local and state regulatory information in ways businesses can understand and use.
Seattle – Restaurant Success website
Tacoma – Restaurant Location Selection Worksheet(PDF) and Restaurants and Food Service Tip Sheet (PDF)
Spokane – Get Started website
Spokane Valley – Restaurant website

Roadmap for Contractors

Roadmap for Manufacturers

Need help?

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

Lynn Fetch, Program Manager
Phone: 360-725-2810