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Shaping the Future of Washington’s Economy Together

Predicting the future is impossible, but planning for it is imperative

By Kris Johnson, President, Association of Washington Business and Steve Mullin, President, Washington Roundtable

Shaping Washington's Economy. Washington Business

What will Washington’s economy look like in 10 or 15 years? Will the state’s younger residents be able to connect with rewarding careers? Will employers struggle to find qualified workers? How will people get to work? Will they be able to afford houses in the communities they want to call home? Will parents have access to affordable child care?

If the last few years have taught us anything, it’s that nothing is certain. To ensure the economy’s ongoing strength and strategic growth, Washingtonians must come together to plan a compelling vision for its future.

The Association of Washington Business and the Washington Roundtable have joined with local partners throughout the state to launch an ambitious initiative to lead the way. The two organizations are engaging Washingtonians in building a long-term economic vision to guide the state for years to come.

The plan, called Washington in the Making 2040, will include thoughts and ideas from thousands of Washingtonians gathered through a series of town hall meetings and extensive surveying.

During nearly two dozen town hall meetings held across the state earlier this year [2023], attendees discussed the challenges and issues facing their communities. In city after city, from Stevenson to Spokane and Mount Vernon to Kennewick, common themes emerged, including the high cost of housing, lack of affordable child care, and difficulty finding qualified employees.

A large-scale online survey sought insights from residents in every corner of the state. The survey asked a variety of questions: What are the three biggest issues facing your community or organization today? How would you rate your community’s K–12 system in preparing students for their next step? What’s your top infrastructure concern in your community? What trends do you think will affect you and the state of Washington over the next 15 years? How would you like your community to look in 2040? The two organizations also surveyed chambers of commerce members and interviewed CEOs from around Washington.

Throughout the fall, the data from all these efforts will be compiled and analyzed to identify key pillars, or areas of focus, and create a state economic analysis report that can be shared with legislators and policymakers. The final plan will include projects and strategies that will chart a path to lasting prosperity for every region and community in the state.

Ultimately, Washington in the Making 2040 will result in a shared vision that builds a better tomorrow. It will be a vision for Washington, built by Washingtonians. A vision that we can work toward with purpose and determination rather than simply reacting to external events and forces of change. And it will be a vision that inspires people and communities by giving them hope and opportunity. For updates on the plan’s progress, visit awbinstitute.org.

This story first appeared in the 2023 GSI Connect Magazine, which can found on our About Us page.

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