hen Washington Gov. Jay Inslee gave his annual State of the State Address on Jan. 10, 2023, he said, “The good news is that here in Washington state, ambition and audacity is in our DNA.”
He also could have said this: Washington is the place where ambition meets accomplishment — because the Evergreen State is coming up roses everywhere you turn.
Consider just a few of the state’s recent achievements:
On June 5, WalletHub named Washington the No. 1 Best State Economy in the nation. With an overall ranking score of 68.13, Washington easily outdistanced second-place Utah, which had 65.04. Washington’s first-place ranking included being ranked No. 2 in economic activity and No. 2 in innovation potential.
In the annual U.S. News ranking of Best States for 2023, Washington placed second. With an annual GDP of $726 billion and an adult population where 49.1% of residents are college educated, Washington also placed fourth in fiscal stability and sixth in infrastructure.
In CNBC’s annual ranking of the Top States for Business for 2023, Washington placed seventh and was the only Western state to score in the top 10. CNBC also ranked Washington No. 5 for workforce, No. 3 for technology and innovation, and No. 7 for life, health and inclusion.
There are plenty of other accolades, but you get the picture. When it comes to providing an overall climate that is conducive for entrepreneurialism, happiness and business success for employers and workers, Washington performs at a best-in-class level in the U.S.
Gov. Inslee has every intention of keeping it that way. That’s why he led an effort to overhaul the state’s outdated healthcare system, passed the Working Families Tax Credit, made affordable housing one of his administration’s top priorities, and got even more aggressive in combatting climate change.
“The people are with us on this,” he said in his speech. “Let’s go big. Let’s get this done.”
Companies have been doing that in Washington for a long time. Juggernauts like Amazon and Microsoft began in Washington and decades later are changing the world. This spirit of innovation and creativity extends to multiple business sectors. Ever heard of REI, Starbucks and Expedia? They were once startups here too.
The state actively supports the startup culture and development of nine sectors: aerospace, agriculture, clean energy, the creative economy, forest products, life sciences and healthcare, the maritime industry, military and defense, and the information and communications technology sector.
There is a reason why Boeing has major operations in Washington. When it comes to providing the technical expertise and engineering experience required to build the world’s most advanced aircraft, nobody does it better than the well-trained and highly skilled workforce found in Washington.
Other industries are gaining ground too. Tourism is a $21 billion-a-year industry in Washington, employing more than 180,000 workers statewide. The space economy is expanding in Washington thanks to major investments by the Jeff Bezos-owned Blue Origin and a host of newcomers.
Washington ranks as the No. 1 Best State Economy in the Nation for 2023.
And don’t forget semiconductors. Washington is emerging as a national leader on several fronts in the microelectronic chips sector, including advanced materials research and robotics.
All of this is made possible by what most experts deem the best trained labor pool in America. More than 91% of Washingtonians earn a high school degree, 36.7% possess a bachelor’s degree or higher, and three-fourths of all graduates of the University of Washington choose to remain in the state to pursue their careers.
The higher education numbers alone are impressive. The state boasts six public universities; 27 private colleges and universities; 34 community and technical colleges; and a variety of integrated workforce training programs to help expanding companies find and hire the talent they need to grow and thrive.
Finally, infrastructure exists in every corner of the state to connect people and commerce. The transportation network of Washington has 75 ports, 139 airports, and 3,300 miles of roads and highways. Geographically, the state rests in the middle of Asia and Europe, making travel and trade with both continents attainable in a day.
Summing up Washington’s potential, Gov. Inslee said: “We have a special state. We have a special moment. Let us realize both. So, let’s get to work.”