Thursday, June 24, 2010

Gregoire Kicks Off Washington State Export Initiative

Washington state Gov. Christine Gregoire visited the Port of Seattle Tuesday to introduced her plans for a new state export initiative aimed at complimenting the Obama Administration's National Export Initiative intended to double domestic exports within five years.

“As one of the nation’s leading exporting states, Washington State has the ability to act as a testing ground as the United States Department of Commerce develops new programs to move the National Export Initiative forward,” Gregoire said. “Washington is the gateway to Asia, and those trading partners have not been hit as hard as other areas around the world. We need to continue to increase our efforts to reach out to those trading partners. When our companies have more opportunities to do business, they can expand and create more good jobs for our communities.”

The governor's five-year six-point plan includes:

  • Working as partners with the U.S. Department of Commerce to identify new opportunities for Washington businesses, serving as a pilot state for “field testing” new programs and tools the federal government develops as a part of the National Export Initiative;
  • Directing the Community Economic Revitalization Board (CERB) to dedicate $3 million in funding toward export counseling assistance to companies seeking to export for the first time;
  • Implementing a “Farm-to-Market Initiative” to reward ambitious and achievable proposals to enhance the competitiveness of the state's agricultural enterprises in the global marketplace.
  • Enhancing the state's standing as a destination for foreign students who invest in the Washington economy through tuition, lodging and entertainment and encourage Washington students to study abroad; and
  • Strengthening and expanding relationships with overseas trading partners;
  • Engaging with the federal government to ensure a fully-funded federal transportation re-authorization act that includes a national freight program aimed at infrastructure investments that enhance the state's ability to efficiently move goods.

Gov. Gregoire said she expects the state export initiative to increase the number of Washington state companies exporting by 30 percent over the next five years and help 5,000 Washington businesses achieve $600 million in new export sales.

“Increasing the export of American products and services to global markets can help revive the fortunes of U.S. companies, spur future economic growth and support jobs in the U.S.,” said U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke. "I applaud Governor Gregoire and Washington State for partnering with us on the National Export Initiative, and look forward to working with the state."

With 8,000 Washington companies currently exporting, the state is the largest U.S. exporter on a per capita basis. Approximately four percent of Washington companies export, compared to a national average of one percent. One in three jobs in Washington state are tied to trade, either directly or indirectly.

“Taking the lead among all states with this early commitment to the National Export Initiative is good for Washington because it builds on our core strengths,” said Washington State Commerce Director Rogers Weed. “Expanding opportunities for our state’s current exporters will generate growth in the near term, while future sales and jobs will come from a new focus by the Small Business Development Centers and other key partners to find and help some of the 96 percent of other Washington companies reach international markets with their products and services.”