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Northwest business community maintains positive outlook

Seattle skyline at night.
The second annual Business in the Northwest report shows growing optimism among the business community in the Northwest.

The second annual Business in the Northwest 2019 report, published by the Washington State University Carson College of Business, shows growing optimism among the business community in the Northwest.

In its second year, the report took a deeper look at the business climate in the Northwest by adding employees’ perspectives. While employees and business leaders disagree on some business and workforce issues, both groups want the Northwest to be a great place for families and they want to drive growth and help local communities.

“I’ve never been more excited for the Northwest’s growth potential and the opportunity we have to bring prosperity to people across our region,” said Chip Hunter, Carson College dean. “Data from this year’s report can help drive impactful conversations with the Northwest business community to address some of our region’s most pressing issues.”

The survey also found business leaders in the region feel even more confident than last year about the business climate in the Northwest. While many business leaders and employees attribute the strengthening business climate to advances in technology, they also see growing opportunity in the marijuana industry and wine production.

Key findings from the 2019 report include:

  • Growing optimism: This year, 61% of business leaders feel the business climate is steadily strengthening – an 11-point increase from 2018.
  • Industry beyond tech: Business leaders and employees both feel the “next big things” the Northwest will be known for are:
  • Marijuana products and merchandise (business leaders – 32%; employees – 49%)
  • Wine production (business leaders – 23%; employees – 28%)
  • Brand reputation matters: Business leaders (41%) and employees (45%) agree that a good brand reputation will be key in helping their company withstand changes in the next few years.
  • Money on the mind: Across the board, employees prioritize salary over benefits like paid or unpaid vacation time, a higher ranked title, a flexible work schedule and a more manageable workload. Business leaders, however, think their employees value a flexible work schedule (60%) or a manageable workload (50%) over a higher salary.
  • A stronger workforce is needed: Although 85% of business leaders agree graduates in the area are typically qualified, more than half have difficulty finding qualified undergraduates from area universities or colleges to fill their company needs.
  • Collaboration is key: To find more talent, an increasing amount of business leaders (79%) want to collaborate with community leaders, organizations or higher education institutions to find qualified applicants.

The report surveyed a total of 1,000 members of the Northwest workforce, including 500 business leaders age 18 or older living in the region, who hold an upper management level position, have decision making or hiring responsibilities at their company, and at least three years of management experience, along with 500 employees age 18 or older with at least one year of experience.

To access the full complimentary report, visit the Business in the Northwest 2019 website.





  • Sarah Druffel, director of strategic marketing and communications, Carson College of Business, 509-335-4345,
  • Sue McMurray, assistant director of communications, Carson College of Business, 509-335-7578,

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