Chase: ‘Economic gardening’ can expand businesses, create jobs

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Hundreds of thousands of small businesses across the state may one day enjoy new tools to expand and create more jobs, thanks to legislation signed into law Friday by Gov. Jay Inslee.

Senate Bill 6100, sponsored by Sen. Maralyn Chase, D-Edmonds, establishes a pilot program in the state Dept. of Commerce to provide strategic business assistance services to businesses that employ more than six but fewer than 99 employees and annually gross between $500,000 and $50 million. The assistance includes market research, business modeling, identifying qualified sales leads, and assisting with innovation strategies.

“We have plenty of folks who are skilled at a product or service or specialized business niche but who don’t necessarily possess the knowledge or staff required for expanding a business,” Chase said. “With a little help, these small businesses can expand market share and create jobs.”

Of the 600,000 businesses in Washington state, only 176,815 have workers on the payroll. The vast majority of businesses are self-employed entrepreneurs who lack either the time or knowledge — or both — to grow their businesses into larger, more robust enterprises.

To implement the pilot project, the Dept. of Commerce will coordinate with chambers of commerce, associate development organizations and other economic development organizations. The strategy is called “economic gardening” because it is designed to nurture fledgling businesses the way a gardener oversees the growth of a garden.

“If you expand these businesses, they can hire people,” Chase said. “It’s great for our economy and great for our working families.”


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