airplanes-225SEATTLE – Washington’s I-5 and I-90 “aerospace corridors” have been named one of 12 “manufacturing communities” out of 70 that applied to the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership. Washington State University will play a role in the research and development portion of the designation.

The program “is designed to accelerate the resurgence of manufacturing in communities nationwide by supporting the development of long-term economic development strategies that help communities attract and expand private investment in the manufacturing sector and increase international trade and exports,” according to an announcement from U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker.

The commerce department is partnering with 11 other federal agencies to make available up to $1.3 billion in economic development assistance, as well as provide agency liaisons to the communities to better navigate grant opportunities available through the partnership.

State’s focus on aerospace

Washington’s application focused on aerospace manufacturing in Clallam, Snohomish, King, Pierce, Grant, Lincoln and Spokane counties to bolster the aerospace manufacturing industry and the high-paying jobs it provides in these areas.

“A century of aerospace leadership has taught this region that working together is the best path forward,” said Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy, president of the Puget Sound Regional Council. “This will help our region become even more resilient, as international competition grows fiercer every day, and will help keep the best manufacturing jobs in America.”

Based on a strategy created by the Puget Sound Regional Council, the lead applicant on the grant, and 300 business, government, labor, community and education leaders, the designation will help grow the region’s aerospace cluster and supply chain across the state.

The program focuses on areas that make manufacturing a viable industry: workforce and training, supplier networks, research and innovation, infrastructure and site development, trade and investment, and operational improvement and capital access.

WSU expertise in research, economic development

WSU’s role will be to leverage research in biofuels and partnerships in the Sustainable Aviation Biofuels Working Group and Greener Skies Over Seattle initiative.

WSU contributed to the application with information about its many aerospace-related education and research programs, as well as through the office of economic development and its knowledge gained through participation in the partnership’s Phase 1 planning grant.

That $135,000 grant, which has been under way since October 2013 in partnership with the Mid-Columbia Economic Development District, is exploring unmanned aerial systems, value-added food and the composite materials manufacturing clusters in the bi-state Columbia Gorge region.

Through this planning grant, WSU has been able to form research, education and internship partnerships with community and industry partners in southwest Washington. It hopes to do the same as the university engages with the Puget Sound council and its many partners on the next stage of the partnership program.

More resources

For a full announcement about the designation and more information on the partnership, visit

For more information about the strategy and partners involved in the award, visit

For more information on the Phase 1 planning grant, visit



Rick Olson, director of government relations and communications, Puget Sound Regional Council,, 206-971-3050

Alexis Holzer, assistant director, WSU Office of Economic Development,, 206-219-2404