The Evergreen State’s prosperity and global competitiveness rests in growing our technical skills and expanding our crucial international export base. Exports are at the core of our bright future and represent-about 40% of our economy-more than any other state. The world eats our apples, uses our software, flies our planes and increasingly relies on our research and technology. Given, Pierce County's high-tech and international orientation, we must protect our high quality of life.
Government is all about finding balance. We need to provide an ideal platform for advocating balanced growth that helps provide high paying jobs while promoting – not jeopardizing – environmental quality. Our communities are challenged with many issues that need to be prioritized. I will work with all interested parties to resolve key community needs, such as: Putting people back to work in a new economy, Restarting small businesses and Expanding arger businesses in a way that is safe for the public, and Ensure financial responsiblity for the stability and sustainability of our communities in Pierce County.
Call for Action
How do we support innovation and entrepreneurship so that it benefits every segment of our communities?
Despite indications of recovery on a national scale, in Washington we still see high unemployment in rural areas, underemployment of a skilled workforce and a lack of living wage jobs for returning men and women in uniform. In order to turn the corner and claim our share of the projected progress for the next decade, we must make innovationand enterprise creation our highest priority. Micro, small and medium-sized enterprise development is the engine of growth and key to our state’s economic recovery.
However, it isn’t enough for us to adopt policy to support creation of new jobs and small businesses. The Small Business Administration estimates that three out of every five startups fail within the first six years.
We must adopt policies and programs that sustain fledgling businesses until they reach the critical mass to sustain growth without external support. We must identify appropriate ventures to sustain, so our investments are wise and chosen well.
Many communities throughout the world recognize business incubators as significant vehicles for revitalizing their local economies. More than 1,500 small business incubators have been created worldwide since 1980 and incubators across the United States have spawned hundreds of thousands of entrepreneurs and small businesses. Over 19,000 companies have been successfully incubated nationally and employ more than 500,000 people today.
Incubation and entrepreneurship programs work because when they are done correctly, they provide necessary technical and management support services as well as other forms of mentorship to entrepreneurs that can help them achieve a high rate of success.
Eighty-four percent of graduates of incubators remain in their local communities. For every dollar of public money spent on incubators, the community return-on-investment is approximately $30.
Recognizing the value of incubation, I will introduce legislation that will bring economic development stakeholders, government officials, academics, incubator managers and prospective startup businesses together to participate in community forums, via the Internet and at a statewide conference, to exchange ideas and learn about best practices in the area of business incubation.
It is our hope that this will serve as a catalyst for potential participants to move ahead in a collaborative, strategic and coordinated manner. We need to develop a shared strategy for micro-, small-, and medium-sized enterprise development, including startups, entrepreneurs and high-growth potential businesses. The shared strategy is best organized under the umbrella of a statewide incubator initiative. All groups and individuals in a local community who bring added value to startup businesses should be encouraged to participate in the creation and ongoing operation of business incubators.
There are challenges in implementing a shared strategy with business incubators as economic tools, including:
- A lack of knowledge and understanding on the part of economic development stakeholders, government officials, academic, incubator managers, small business startups and others on the appropriate best practices.
- Scarce-financial resources to help startup businesses expand to the point where they can attract risk capital.
- The inability or unwillingness of economic development stakeholders faced with scarce financial and non-financial resources to raise public and private sector awareness of the importance of business incubators.
We need to embark on an integrated regional strategy to create small business startup and job creation as a means of achieving a wide range of economic and social objectives. Working together, we should create a network of incubators to create economies of scale and ensure financial sustainability.