Commerce Forms New Office of Economic Development and Competitiveness

By Steve Wilhelm, April 2, 2013, Puget Sound Business Journal

A new Office of Economic Development and Competitiveness started operation April 1 within the Washington State Department of Commerce, in a bid to more effectively focus the state’s economic development strategy.

The project is one of the steps being taken by Brian Bonlender, the new director of the Department of Commerce.

The new office has merged the business services division and energy office into one entity of about 35 people, focused on business and export development, said Nick Demerice, legislative affairs director for commerce.

“It is a different way to organize some of the pieces we have, to encourage collaboration,” he said.

The new office will include the state’s international trade and export assistance efforts, as well as business recruitment and retention. Most of the workers will continue to be housed in Seattle.

The new office will have three parts: business services, clean energy and “sector positions” focused on industries, Demerice said.

This last part is based on the department’s current aerospace office. To that Gov. Jay Inslee, in his proposed budget, wants to add seven sector offices focusing on agriculture, life sciences, military, clean tech, information and technology, advanced manufacturing and maritime, Demerice said.

“We asked for new funding to staff up those sector lead positions,” Demerice said. “This is an attempt to try to grow that group a little bit.”

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