Gov. Inslee announces $4.3 million federal grant to prepare state for impacts of military downsizing

September 25, 2014

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OLYMPIA – Washington state has received a $4.3 million Department of Defense (DOD) grant to support local efforts to address the impact of potential downsizing of the state’s defense industry, Gov. Jay Inslee announced today.

The funding, from the DOD Office of Economic Adjustment’s Defense Industry Adjustment program, is matched by more than $500,000 in state and local dollars through the newly-formed Washington Military Alliance. The alliance was convened by the governor to prepare for military downsizing and includes a diverse group of military and defense stakeholders that represent industry, veteran, workforce and economic development interests across the state.

In 2012, Washington’s military industry accounted for 136,000 jobs and $15.7 billion in economic activity. There are more than 1,500 companies doing defense work in 35 of 39 Washington counties. Washington has the sixth largest military presence in the nation with personnel at bases and assets throughout the state. The industry supports military personnel as well as civilian jobs in cybersecurity, aerospace, advanced manufacturing, clean technology, and information and communications technology. 

“The military and defense sector is an economic backbone for many Washington communities and a driver of economic development statewide,” Inslee said. “As the DOD reduces military assets around the country, we want to make sure we are prepared and ready. By planning ahead, we will ensure Washington remains in a strong position to support our military and defense infrastructure, its diverse industry supply chain and the tens of thousands of jobs associated with this industry.”

The DOD grant will help implement a plan to minimize the impacts of military downsizing on regional businesses and communities. The plan, called the Washington State Military and Defense Sector Industry Adjustment Analysis and Strategy, was developed in collaboration with the Washington Military Alliance and the Department of Commerce. It will:

  • Assess the extent of the military and defense contracting footprint in the state,
  • Create a strategy and support system to reduce the exposure of regional businesses that are overly reliant on military and defense spending,
  • Support capability for technology transfersand advanced commercial spin-off of DOD programs to the private sector,
  • Generate a seamless transition to retrain and place dislocated defense contract employees in new jobs,
  • Study future opportunities for industry growth in both the public and private sector in order to meet defense needs, and 
  • Focus on retaining and strengthening Washington state’s defense sector businesses and workforce.

Jorgensen Forge, a Tukwila company doing U.S. Navy contract work, is a prime example of the type of company that can benefit from the grant, said Kristiné Reeves, the state Department of Commerce’s military and defense sector lead.  The company, like several others in the state, has reduced its workforce as defense contracts have declined.

“This plan was fostered by the state’s Department of Commerce in response to community need and involves a partnership with eight local private organizations and several state agencies,’’ said Rich Hadley, president emeritus of Greater Spokane Inc. “This will touch all corners of Washington and demonstrates great public/private collaboration and a coordinated effort to keep this important industry an economic driver.”

“One core tenet of our statewide economic development and competitiveness strategy focuses on developing opportunities in key industry sectors,” said Commerce Director Brian Bonlender. “This is the same approach we take with the aerospace, life sciences and other key industries and provides the focus we need to ensure that Washington remains highly competitive for jobs today and well into the future.”

“As we work to represent four of the five largest defense communities in our state, the Puget Sound Regional Council is proud to partner with the Governor’s office, the state Department of Commerce and others to marshal our resources and strategically focus our efforts on understanding the defense supply chain in our state and then working to ensure that supply chain is prosperous and can grow for years to come,” said Pat McCarthy, president of the Puget Sound Regional Council. 

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About the Washington Military Alliance

The WMA provides a forum for collaboration in the state between local governments, military installations, state agencies and federal agencies. It serves as a policy advisor to the governor, other state agencies, the Legislature and others. Inslee signed a memorandum of understanding with Washington’s congressional delegation and more than 30 military, business and economic development organizations from across the state.

The group was originally convened to collaborate on production of the Washington Military Alliance Report, which identified impacts to Washington’s military and defense infrastructure and develop initial recommendations in response to a possible Base Realignment and Closure Commission action. Inslee reconvened the group to ensure the state’s ongoing response and preparation during DOD deliberations.

For More Information about the military and defense sector or the Department of Defense grant, please contact Kristiné Reeves at 206-910-1624 or Kristine.reeves@commerce.wa.gov.

Media Contact 

Department of Commerce
Penny Thomas
360-704-9489