Focusing on organic job growth in communities statewide.


It’s a hard lesson some communities must learn along the way. A big company leaves, and with it jobs. Hopes of a new employer coming to town are dashed by intense competition and deep pockets. In need of work, people move away, and when they do, the very soul of the community withers and wastes away. But there is a way to retain that intellectual wealth and economic vitality. By focusing on entrepreneurship and small business growth, communities can flourish organically, creating jobs, filling empty storefronts and keeping future generations engaged and in residence.

Spearheaded by the Washington State Department of Commerce, the state’s Startup Washington strategy is designed to strengthen communities by through the cultivation and retention of economic and intellectual wealth. It has not only gained the support of local economic developers, but is part of Governor Inslee’s long-term economic development efforts to create more quality jobs statewide.

Our goal with Startup Washington is to re-energize these communities and businesses with the entrepreneurial spirit, whether they are large or small. Technology allows people to live and work where they want to these days and it is Startup’s goal to  provide the tools, resources, education and training needed to start, grow and expand a business anywhere in the state. Entrepreneurship is not just about education; it’s about successful adulthood.


Startup Blog

Books to Read

An interview with…

My swan song.

After almost 26 years, five governors, eight directors, six department name changes and hundreds of workshops and presentations, the time has come to put away my three-legged stool theory of economic development. Yes, the rumors are true that at the end of this month, I am retiring.  I will feel like an alien from another planet, leaving the comforts of state government that has supported me for more than two decades and stepping off into the unknown that is retired life.

This blog shall serve as my swan song, which causes me concern, largely because I am neither swan-like nor can I sing.

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WWMD (What Would MacGyver Do?)

Take a roll of duct tape, some Post-It Notes, a couple toilet tubes and an empty soda cans and what have you got?

We’ll if you’re MacGyver, you have everything you need to do in the bad guys, rescue the requisite damsel in distress, save the world and whip up a soufflé for dinner. If you’re an entrepreneur, you’ll probably be able to cobble together a new business idea, create a bunch of jobs and help your community grow.

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Startup Wisdom: 27 Strategies for Raising Business Capital

So, consider: a handful of industries have driven the economy for more than 200 years. Ever since the industrial revolutions began rolling through the 18th and 19th centuries, petroleum, manufacturing, chemicals, natural resources and raw materials, banking, transportation, versions of communication technologies, weapons and real estate have been clustered at the top of the list, with business and political leaders looking out for each other.  With centuries-old competition like that, what is a contemporary under-capitalized start-up to do?  Find new access to capital, of course. Private investments have been stagnant for more than half a century and since 2008 banks, under intense scrutiny, are refusing to risk getting busted for making poor investments. Today’s innovative models are so new – most of them just a few years old – that they are still in quick-mode evolution. Fundraising ideas have never been so important or so available but they need to be better understood; millions of Google hits don’t really help.


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bio-stephen-dunk1Stephen Dunk

Stephen Dunk works for the Washington State Department of Commerce as the Community Outreach Program Manager.  The Outreach Program is charged with creating a presence and on-going relationship with rural, disadvantaged communities throughout Washington State.  Stephen has been working for the Department of Commerce since 2007.  Prior to Community Outreach, Stephen worked for the Public Works Board as a Regional Services Coordinator helping local governments build and retain local capacity and coordinating with state, federal and local funders to assist in financing critical infrastructure needs. From 2001 to 2007 Stephen worked for the Skokomish Indian Tribe as the Manager for Housing & Infrastructure Development.  He has a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from the University of Colorado.  Stephen was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Paraguay, South America and has a passion for travel, culture, rural communities and fly fishing!

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