July 2, 2020

New 'Washington in the Making' website offers key tools for local insights, recovery and growth

By: Brian Mittge   Comments: 0

When informed vision meets engaged local leadership, great things are possible.

That's the idea behind Washington in the Making, a new dashboard for our state's future with a simple goal: “Let’s build a thriving, resilient and connected economy that includes every community in our state.”

Like a sophisticated heart monitor in a doctor's office, the site features a constantly updated look at more than 30 vital signs for each county in Washington, and for the state overall.

These indicators are all tied to five key pillars defining the strategies that will fuel our economic recovery and support economic resiliency in every corner of the state. The pillars provide a roadmap to shared prosperity across Washington. Driving innovation in these five areas will grow opportunities for employers, workers and communities. The resilient economy of the future will support:

  • TALENT: A workforce and talent supply system that ensures that all Washington residents are employable — and that every Washington employer can find workers with the talents and skills they need.
  • BUSINESS ENVIRONMENT: Improvements to Washington’s regulatory system, advancing policies that support competitiveness and international trade, and increasing support for rural communities to ensure all Washingtonians thrive.
  • INFRASTRUCTURE & CONNECTIVITY: Effective infrastructure that supports a remote workforce, the mobility of goods and people, information and data accessibility and desired economic growth.
  • ENTREPRENEURSHIP & INNOVATION: Fueling a culture of entrepreneurship and innovation across the entire state. The includes investments in collaboration, connectivity, job growth and industry diversification so that employers choose to start and expand businesses in every community in our state.
  • PLACE & COMMUNITY: Supporting job recovery and growth in urban and rural communities to ensure Washingtonians can live where they want to live. This means convening important discussions about activities that support economic resiliency, like health care access, affordable housing, broadband, workforce training and more.

To plan, guide and measure progress, the Washington's Vitals page tracks 33 key metrics in these five pillars at both the state and county level. Thirty-four constantly updated statistics are compiled from a wide variety of reputable sources by D. Patrick Jones, Ph.D. the executive director for the Institute of Public Policy & Economic Analysis at Eastern Washington University.

The statistics include economic factors like job creation, household income and property value; educational metrics like public school test scores and percentage of residents with at least a bachelor's degree; quality-of-life measurements like housing affordability; infrastructure guideposts like commute time and households with access to broadband; and dozens more.

It's the first time that all these types of measurements have been pulled together in one easy-to-use place, creating an exciting opportunity for more informed planning and dynamic conversations about growth and economic recovery.

Local community leaders can drill down into the data for their counties and compare themselves to other areas or to the state as a whole. Armed with that detailed and targeted information, they can better respond to the situation on the ground as they make plans and advocate for their needs in the Legislature.

The planning for the site began three years ago, aimed at helping Washington state guide its growth in the decades ahead. The impact of the novel coronavirus has changed the state's fiscal situation, but not the need for a dynamic, comprehensive set of economic indicators.

Washington in the Making is about "how to build back better," said AWB Institute Board Chair Mike Schwenk.

To launch this work statewide, the AWB Institute is helping to lead three important projects to move the needle across the five pillars:

"This is a long-term vision for the state of Washington," said AWB President Kris Johnson. " We are really excited this project is coming to fruition."

For more information or to arrange for a presentation on Washington in the Making for your local chamber or other civic group, contact Erika Borg with the AWB Institute.

Washington in the Making from Association of WA Business on Vimeo.