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Gov. Gregoire calls on business, labor leaders to fuel engine of innovation

For Immediate Release: March 10, 2009

SEATTLE – Gov. Chris Gregoire today named former Microsoft Vice President Rogers Weed as the director of the Department of Commerce to help lead Washington state through the deepening national recession and into a thriving economy for the 21st century.

“Rogers is the very essence of an innovator, as evidenced by his high-level contributions to Microsoft products ranging from Windows to Encarta to Pocket PCs,” Gregoire said, “and he is a proven leader and a family man.”

“I want Rogers to wake up every morning with a laser-like focus on keeping the companies and jobs we have, and bringing new jobs and companies to our state — and I mean both large and small companies,” Gregoire said, announcing the appointment during a major economic speech in Seattle.

“I am fired up to take on this role and do my part to bring our state’s economy out of the current difficulties, to exceed the high-water marks and set new standards of leadership in the United States and around the world,” Weed said. “The opportunity before us is to navigate through this situation, making the tradeoffs that tough times demand, and then build on our many strengths to make Washington state, and all of the communities within it, the envy of the world.”

“I applaud Governor Gregoire’s selection of Rogers Weed to lead the state’s commerce activities,” said John Stanton, with Trilogy Partners. “Rogers is a proven leader who served at Microsoft as a corporate vice president and as a general manager, overseeing the work of hundreds of people who plan, develop and market Microsoft products around the globe. This private sector experience will prove invaluable in Washington state’s economic development.”

In her speech during a luncheon with members of the Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce, Prosperity Partnership and Washington Roundtable, Gregoire said the key to a bright future is what it has always been — innovation.

She called on business, labor, community groups and citizens to, first of all, put aside politics to unify, and second, focus on six objectives:

· education that prepares Washingtonians for new-economy jobs;

· accessible, affordable health care;

· roads, bridges, high-speed Internet and other infrastructure;

· positive, problem-solving working relationships;

· innovative government; and

· development of a green economy.

“We have an advantage because Washington has been a hotbed of innovation, cutting-edge ideas and world-class products,” Gregoire said. “Boeing airplanes … Microsoft software …a world-class variety of cherries … Costco … Starbucks … Paccar’s green trucks. These are global products, folks.”

But “the world is changing at lightning speed. The old days of solely a manufacturing-based economy and workers who spend an entire career with one company are long gone,” the governor said.

Gregoire called on her audience of business, labor and community leaders to come together. “Our kids deserve a Washington filled with the same powerful, exciting innovation our parents gave us. We owe it to them — and we owe it to ourselves — to emerge from this recession stronger than ever.”

Weed will begin his job March 17 and earn an annual salary of $147,000.