As Manufacturing Week begins, AWB president outlines steps to double manufacturing jobs in Washington.

Washington’s Manufacturing Week AWB bus tour this year runs from October 1 to October 8. The Association of Washington Business describes the event.

This annual event raises awareness of the role manufacturing plays in Washington state, supports the successful growth of our state’s manufacturing sector, and also gives us the opportunity to spotlight some of our state’s manufacturers who are contributing to their communities and the state economy in innovative and impactful ways.

AWB’s Manufacturing Week will shine a spotlight on Washington’s makers, highlight the importance of manufacturing to the state’s economic recovery and call attention to ways policy makers and others can support manufacturers. Challenges facing manufacturing include a complex regulatory environment, relatively high taxes and a skills gap making it difficult to find qualified workers. This is all on top of the unprecedented challenges posed by the coronavirus.

Click on the link above for more information. As we reported earlier this year, the Legislature has set a goal for doubling the state’s manufacturing jobs. The legislation, signed by the governor, says,

It is the intent of the legislature that Washington retain and build on its leadership in the manufacturing and research and development sectors. The legislature finds that a thriving research and production sector are complimentary and should be promoted in every region of the state. The legislature finds this is critical to provide a strong, resilient tax base for good schools, safe streets, and community optimism. Therefore, the legislature intends to identify and invest in strategies to ensure every geographic region of the state can benefit from a strong manufacturing and research and development base, with the goal of doubling the state’s manufacturing employment base, the number of small businesses, and the number of women and minority-owned manufacturing businesses in the next 10 years. (Emphasis added)

In July, lawmakers held a hearing, learning of the economic importance of manufacturing to the state and the challenges face by the sector. (More on the research here.)

In a recent column, AWB president Kris Johnson laid out strategies for doubling manufacturing employment. We’ll list the main themes below and encourage you to read the column.

Protect and continue to invest in Washington’s core competitive advantages.

Prioritize infrastructure investments.

Continually benchmark Washington’s tax incentives to ensure the state is competitive in comparison to other states.

Review Washington’s existing regulatory system and determine areas of improvement.

Invest in the next-generation workforce.

Johnson concludes,

There is no single answer, but addressing those five areas will help give Washington a chance of doubling its manufacturing base in the next decade.

Can Washington really double its manufacturing base in the next 10 years? Let’s hope so. When manufacturing thrives, Washington thrives.