In Business Growth, Manufacturing

Manufacturing and Technology are keystone industries to Washington’s thriving economy. Through a symbiotic relationship, the two industries bolster Washington’s economy contributing to job creation, high wages, and increased foreign and domestic exports.

According to the Association of Washington Business (AWB) Manufacturing and Technology study, the manufacturing workforce during 2019 included 6,600 non-aerospace jobs in Cowlitz County and 14,100 in Clark County.

Given that manufacturing accounts for nine percent of the state’s nonfarm jobs, ensuring the industry has access to a skilled workforce and resources to grow benefits us all.

The state of Washington offers numerous competitive programs that allow manufacturing and technology industries to thrive. The following programs are highlighted in the AWB study as key incentives:

  • Job Skills Program, run through the state community and technical college system, offers 50:50 cost-sharing between state and employer
  • Reduced Business and Occupation (B&O) tax rates, B&O tax credits and tax exemptions for select industry-related activities within the manufacturing sector
  • Tax credits and exemptions to invest in rural communities

These programs are key to creating an environment where competitive industries can continue to succeed.

Workforce Southwest Washington (WSW) supports various initiatives to provide financial and other support to grow a highly-skilled workforce for our local companies.

For the next few months, WSW is offering grants to companies with jobs in high demand, like manufacturing and technology, to support the onboarding and training of new employees and for companies providing internships. Learn more about these grant opportunities here.

To help companies and job seekers connect during the pandemic, WSW partnered with WorkSource to develop and host a series of virtual hiring events for Cowlitz, Wahkiakum, and Clark counties. The most recent in May was a virtual manufacturing hiring event. Forty-three companies representing a diverse array of industries within the manufacturing sector, from The Neil Jones Food Company to Benchmade Knife Co., participated to fill their open jobs.

The event gave 121 individuals the ability to meet with companies and learn about current and upcoming career opportunities. During the event, 248 conversations were held between companies and job seekers. Follow-up interviews have been scheduled and several individuals have already been hired.

On July 14, WSW and WorkSource will host another virtual hiring event. This one is centered on hiring opportunities for veterans. Numerous companies in the manufacturing industry are participating. Learn more about the veteran-focused hiring event here.

During July, WSW and its partners in the Columbia-Willamette Workforce Collaborative (CWWC), Clackamas Workforce Partnership and Worksystems, are set to host a Regional Manufacturing Industry Panel. During the panel, CWWC will engage in a dialogue with manufacturing partners to understand industry needs to support regional economic growth and guide workforce investments. The panel will focus on current projects and initiatives, resource development, talent acquisition, and sustainability practices in the manufacturing sector. During the upcoming year, CWWC will craft a dynamic and sustainable three-year manufacturing industry workforce plan to meet the needs of businesses and workers in the Portland-Southwest Washington Metropolitan Area.

Manufacturers interested in learning more about resources and support to help attract and retain talent should contact Alyssa Joyner at 503.410.0408 or

Jobseeker assistance

Numerous jobs are available for job seekers interested in manufacturing positions in Clark, Cowlitz or Wahkiakum counties. As of June 11, 2021, there were 657 open manufacturing positions across 255 companies in Southwest Washington. Many of our business partners are willing to train new employees so individuals with little or no manufacturing experience should apply. To get help finding a job or learning about training options, job seekers should reach out to the local WorkSource center.

Help for young adults

Young adults ages 16 to 24 looking for career and employment services or wanting to obtain a GED can get assistance at WSW’s Next youth training and employment center. For assistance visit the website

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