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Phase II Documents:

Phase I Documents:

Regulatory Streamlining at Ecology:

Governor Locke's Competitiveness Agenda:

Keeping Washington's Business Climate Healthy

Washington enjoys one of the strongest state economies in the nation. But we must improve our competitive edge to ensure a healthy business climate that continues to create the family wage jobs that Washington's people and economy thrive on.

Working with business, labor and the Legislature, Gov. Gary Locke has led efforts to make Washington a place where businesses want to locate or expand. He's cut more than $1 billion in businesses taxes, worked to expand and promote exports, advanced workforce training, and invested in rural economic development.

The governor also recognizes that in a rapidly changing global economy, the state must keep pace with changes necessary to keep and improve its competitive edge. With the goal of ensuring a vibrant future for Washington's economy, he has formed the Washington Competitiveness Council to recommend reforms that can ensure a thriving, environmentally sustainable business climate.

The Washington Competitiveness Council has:

  • Addressed key business climate issues, using the October 2000 report of the Alliance for a Competitive Economy (ACE) as the starting point for this discussion.

  • Made the public more keenly aware of the importance of a healthy business climate to the future of Washington's economy.

  • Engaged the business community in advancing a competitiveness agenda.

  • Strengthened state and local governments' ability to respond to business community needs.

The Competitiveness Council issued its first report in January of 2002. That report contained 99 separate recommendations for improving the business climate in Washington State. Following completion of the final report, the Economic Development Task Force also issued recommendations related to the state's direct role in economic development.

Since then, the Council has strongly advocated implementation of these recommendations. Its members have repeatedly met with the Governor and the Washington State Legislature to emphasize the importance of this agenda to the economic vitality of Washington State. They have also participated in press conferences, met with editorial boards and worked with advisory groups in support of these recommendations.

Extraordinary effort led to remarkable results. The Governor and the Legislature have taken steps to implement most of these recommendations. This is a significant achievement given the considerable cost associated with many of these proposals and the state's current budget problems. Governor Locke has carried out many of these recommendations via executive order or through instructions to his cabinet agencies. Many others were adopted in the 2002 and 2003 legislative sessions.

Despite this success, there is much to be done. Recent gains in Washington's competitiveness could easily be lost without vigilance. Furthermore, we must take additional steps to ensure that we do not fall behind. Other states and nations are examining their own ability to attract and grow the companies and industries that will provide a high standard of living for their citizens. Washington's competitiveness remains in danger if we do not keep up as our competitors take steps to improve their ability to grow and prosper.

Governor Locke convened Phase II of the Washington Competitiveness Council to ensure that we continue to make progress. The Governor asked the Council to focus on issues related to human capital and innovation. These issues are critical to the future of Washington's economy. Yet, compared to the other issue areas examined by the Council during 2001, we have made the least progress in this area. Of the 38 original Competitiveness Council recommendations related to human capital and innovation, only a handful has been fully implemented. Nevertheless, the Council recognizes the need to continue to progress in other areas as well. Thus, the Council's Phase II recommendations also address taxation, infrastructure and regulatory reform.