Moving forward to The Next Washington together

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by Governor Chris Gregoire

As I travel across Washington talking to people about what they expect from government and where we need to be headed as a state, Ive heard several strong messages.
From Bellingham to Walla Walla, from Vancouver to Spokane, Washingtonians are concerned about their economic futures and the future of their children. Some are concerned that economic growth is driving up the cost of living. They consistently tell me that there is no Washington economy rather, there are many regional economies. They know Washington is home to global economic leaders and they want to ensure that we keep our leadership role. In short, they are optimistic about future success, but concerned about how we will get there.
My report based on what Ive heard about the economy is summarized in an economic strategy called The Next Washington.
As we developed this plan we needed to overcome some false trade-offs. I believe that the supposed tradeoff between quality of life and economic growth or between the east side and west side of the state, or between the so-called sunset and sunrise industries can be overcome. All of our industries are constantly transforming and our strategy must be one of change and innovation.
There are three main components. First, education and skills are the most important investments we can make in our economic future.
Second, we need to lay a broad foundation for economic success that looks beyond traditional infrastructure. This requires more than water, sewers and roads. We need to be effective and efficient about those traditional investments but we need a broader understanding and a longer term view of the foundation for success, including telecommunications, energy and strategies to move ideas from our research institutions into the marketplace.
Finally, having laid a strong foundation of skills and strategic infrastructure, we need to make it clear to employers and customers that Washington is open for business.
These three components skills and education, a foundation for economic success and being open for business are the core of a global strategy, but we need specific initiatives to move forward in each.
For instance, the education system in Washington must meet world-class standards. To be excellent, education should be a seamless life-long process, from early learning to skill upgrades for current workers. Through the Washington Learns committee we have identified several key initiatives to promote world-class skills.
The full report has many options for laying the foundation for success, but I want to highlight four here. First, we need to take a fresh look at our basic infrastructure programs to identify possible improved targeting of resources, stronger outcome measures and potential efficiencies. Second, we need to do more to move commercially viable research ideas from our universities to markets and hospitals. Third, getting products to markets must be central to our economic strategy. Finally, given the diversity of our products and regions, we need a comprehensive strategy that includes road, rail, water and port efforts.
We need to send strong signals to the rest of the world that Washington is Open for business.
With limited resources, we must invest in strategies that work and re-direct resources from those that dont produce results.
I have highlighted only a few of the proposed initiatives here. I encourage you to review the whole plan www.governor.wa.gov and offer your reactions. We can build the next Washington only if we create strong partnerships between the public and private sectors, across party lines, across the state and around the world.

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