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Made in Washington: making family-wage jobs

Our state has a diverse economy, and manufacturing plays a key role. Aerospace is what usually comes to mind when we talk about manufacturing – but our state has a rich history across a number of important industries.

When our state, businesses, labor and local communities collaborate to make the right decisions and investments, we will have a prosperous future producing what people around the world need.

This is a bipartisan issue: Democrats and Republicans alike recognize that increasing the number of manufacturing jobs is good for our state and our community.

That is why I’m proud to co-sponsor House Bill 1170 with Rep. Matt Boehnke (R-Kennewick), which aims to boost the manufacturing sector in every corner of Washington.

This legislation would:

· Make it a state goal to double the number of workers employed in the manufacturing sector, the number of businesses, and the number of women- and minority-owned businesses;

· Create a manufacturing council to help facilitate the expansion of manufacturing; and

· Set up grants to accelerate the development of regional clusters in both manufacturing and research and development.

Our state has prospered because of a history of powerful and innovative production. We are well-positioned to maintain our robust tradition of research and development – and become a manufacturing hub for producing what people will be buying for the next fifty years.

The list of emerging technologies is long: electric vehicles, including battery-powered airplanes like the prototypes flying out of Snohomish County right now; cutting-edge batteries to power marine vessels, aircraft, and vehicles; cross-laminated timber and thermally treated wood; solar panels; and finally, drones, self-driving vehicles and other devices with built-in artificial intelligence.

And that is just the list of what we know we’ll need. Putting a focus on research and development, and cultivating small businesses as innovators, will help create jobs throughout our state.

That is why I believe this legislation is a such huge step forward to make sure Washington state has a strong and diverse economy. We do not want to be reliant on any single industry or company. The best economies have a mix of small, medium, and large businesses with different niches in the market.

It is also important that every Washingtonian has access to these family-wage jobs in manufacturing and research and development, including women, communities of color, tribes, and rural areas. We need to increase the number of women- and minority-owned businesses in our state. Supporting the manufacturing sector is a great way to do that.

Small businesses are especially important to this effort. They are already the backbone of our economy, employing the most workers, and able to act quickly and innovate faster than corporate giants.

The surest way to create great jobs is to focus our efforts so Washington state is building cutting-edge products bought by people around the world.

If you think that this proposal is worth fighting for, please email or call your lawmakers (800-562-6000) and tell them to support House Bill 1170.

Rep. Dave Paul has worked in higher education for more than 20 years. He and his wife live in Oak Harbor with their four children.


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