Washington Commerce Department Brings Jobs to State

Washington state businesses understand the power of tapping overseas markets.

Kim Madlom
On Tuesday, November 20, 2012 - 11:03

If you’ve ever played a game on your computer, and who hasn’t, then you likely have enjoyed the creativity of Seattle-based PopCap Games Inc. The firm's creations are so popular, it 's estimated that more than 1 billion people have played a PopCap game.

That number speaks of a global reach. Asia is one of PopCap’s fastest-growing markets, thanks, in part, to the assistance of the Washington State Department of Commerce.

“We were earlier entering the important Chinese game market than many of our competitors,” says James Gwertzman, vice president for the Asia Pacific Region.

He says the commerce department's role as a centralized point of contact and resource for funding were critical to the firm’s success in this area.

As a participant in the department's 2005 trade mission to China, PopCap early on adopted an international business strategy focused on this emerging digital market, and has since worked closely with the department to develop its potential. In the process, the company has expanded its revenue by some $20 million and opened an office in China in 2008.

Extending Global Reach

Washington state businesses understand the power of tapping overseas markets, and the commerce department works closely with businesses who are exporting now or want to export in the future.

Enprecis is another Seattle-based company that has opened an office in Shanghai with assistance from the Washington State commerce department’s China Accelerator program. The company provides an online survey and reporting platform to the automotive industry. Its customer base now includes 12 automobile brands and eight global markets, including China and Russia – a market outreach made possible in part by support and resources from the state.

IIn 2011, Enprecis participated in a state-sponsored trade mission to Europe and made valuable contacts through meetings with major German and French automotive manufacturers, facilitated by the Department of Commerce’s Europe representative. These relationships led to new sales. Enprecis expects those contacts will result in a series of multimillion dollar contracts over the next several years.

“Without the state’s assistance and programs, we would have been unable to get access to the key decision makers at these large global manufacturers resulting in swift decisions to move forward,” says Enprecis CEO Richard Counihan. In 2012, Enprecis will participate in the state's mission to India and Korea and continue expanding its presence in Asia.

Partnering for Jobs

Helping Washington businesses expand their markets is a key goal of the commerce department, but so is attracting new investment into the state. A recent success is a joint venture between The SGL Group, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of carbon-based products, and The BMW Group, one of the world’s most iconic brands.

A $100 million investment from the two companies built a state-of-art carbon fiber manufacturing plant in Moses Lake that will create a total of 240 new jobs when all manufacturing lines are launched.

The commerce department provided a much-needed centralized point of contact for SGL and BMW to navigate the various stakeholders, opportunities and options for resources and services, especially at the local level, and in the development of a competitive proposal in this international site search.

“Members of the Department of Commerce of Washington State with whom we worked were as dedicated to the development and completion of this project as we were,” says Scott Carlton, president SGL Carbon North America.

“Washington’s business climate provides a powerful blend of advantages that has launched some of the most successful companies in the world. From aerospace and advanced manufacturing to mobile tech, software and medicine, the common thread is innovation,” says Rogers Weed, director of the Washington State Department of Commerce.

“As a state, we focus on cultivating the ideal fertile ground for business leaders and entrepreneurs to bring their products and services to market. We invest in the education, workforce training, energy and technology infrastructure demanded by dynamic industry sectors," he says. "The Department of Commerce understands the challenges of competing in a global marketplace. We can dig in and work closely with companies to match Washington’s diverse benefits and opportunities with their specific business needs.”