Commerce names leads for Tech, Life Sciences and Military Industry Sectors
Office of Economic Development and Competiveness continues to build industry leadership team.
Department of Commerce Director Brian Bonlender recently named Kristiné Reeves, Maura Little and Will Saunders to the sector lead team in the Office of Economic Development and Competitiveness. All told, the three target industries they will focus on represent more than $35 billion in payroll for residents of Washington State: Information and Communication Technology, Life Sciences and Military and Defense.
“Our sector-based economic development strategy is a reflection of the fact that we face intense international and interstate competition for good jobs. We have to be constantly vigilant about identifying opportunities and strategies for cultivating employers in Washington,” said Bonlender. “We can’t rely on luck for the next Boeing, Microsoft or Amazon to develop here.”
Reeves will serve as Military and Defense sector lead. She spent the last five years working on veterans and military issues as statewide constituency coordinator for U.S. Sen. Patty Murray. Her work included building strong relationships with Army and Navy leadership as well as military transition and workforce development issues around the state.
Little joined the Department of Commerce as the Life Sciences and Global Health sector lead. She has deep background in the life sciences field, including liaison work for then-Congressman Jay Inslee with industry leaders and helping to draft and pass related legislation. After that, Little was Washington State Director of Government Relations for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network working on healthcare and other life-science issues at a state level.
Saunders brings more than a decade of experience in the information and communications technology field to his position of sector lead for the industry. Most recently, Saunders has been the director of the Washington State Broadband Office since 2010 and has worked with app developers, educators, public and private providers and economic development agencies across the state.
Sector-based economic development heads the list of Commerce’s five core strategies for job creation, Bonlender said.
Reeves, Little and Saunders join Alex Pietsch (Aerospace) and Steve Sewell (Maritime) to represent the State of Washington in their respective industry sectors. They are tasked with identifying and pursuing new economic development strategies that keep Washington State in the forefront of these key industries, and advance the Governor’s goal of targeted company recruitment, retention and expansion.
The Office of Economic Development and Competiveness supports the Governor’s Working Washington Jobs Agenda, which recognizes that these sectors are critical to our future prosperity — if these industries are doing well, our economy will be doing well.