Group to also help prepare for impacts of military downsizing
Olympia, Wash – Gov. Jay Inslee today was joined by more than 20 military and economic development leaders for the launch of the Washington Military Alliance, a diverse group of military and defense stakeholders representing industry, infrastructure, veteran, workforce and economic development interests across the state. The governor is asking WMA to help the state prepare for the impacts of U.S. Department of Defense reductions in military assets. The Army, for example, is considering a reduction of 16,000 personnel at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Pierce County.
“The military and defense sector is an economic backbone for many Washington communities and a priority industry sector for economic development statewide,” Inslee said. “As the DOD reduces military assets around the country, we want to make sure our communities and our military personnel are prepared and ready. By planning ahead, we can make sure 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.”
In 2012, Washington’s military industry accounted for 136,000 jobs and $15.7 billion in economic activity. Washington is the sixth-most military populous 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 WMA will provide a forum for collaboration in the state among local governments, military installations, state agencies and federal agencies. It will serve as a policy adviser to the governor, other state agencies, the Legislature and others. Inslee signed a memorandum of understanding with more than 20 military, business and economic development organizations from every corner of the state.
“With such diverse military industry, missions, needs and opportunities, and a different stakeholder group for every aspect of an issue related to the military and defense community, it was important to the governor and the federal congressional delegation to convene a group of diverse military community stakeholders to come togetherwith one voicein response to potential cuts to defense spending beginning in 2012,” said Rich Hadley, president emeritus of Greater Spokane Incorporated.
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.
“With 10 military-related installations, thousands of military and defense works, and over 1,500 companies supporting defense work in our communities across the state, it is now more important than ever that the state come together to develop a strong strategy to protect the infrastructure, promote the industry and support workforce development that keeps our economy strong and shows Washington as the strong partner to DOD it is,” said John Powers, executive director of the Kitsap Economic Development Alliance.
“One core tenet of our statewide economic development and competitiveness strategy focuses on developing opportunities in key industry sectors. Standing up the WMA replicates an approach to industry collaboration that has been extremely successful in aerospace, with the Washington Aerospace Partnership. These effective public-private partnerships are necessary to ensure that Washington is highly competitive for the jobs today and well into the future,” said state Commerce Director Brian Bonlender.
WMA will meet quarterly beginning in late September. Meetings will be open to the public.