Entrepreneurship in the Emerald City

Washington’s history is intertwined with economic opportunity and entrepreneurship. But the business climate of today does not match the rich history of opportunity enjoyed by our frontier forefathers. Today, economic liberty is under attack in the Evergreen State.

Since the earliest settlers arrived, Washington has attracted people with an entrepreneurial spirit. The state’s location along the Pacific Rim makes it ideally situated for business, with companies such as Boeing, Microsoft, and Amazon.com calling Washington home. Following in the footsteps of these successful large corporations, thousands of ambitious entrepreneurs start new businesses in Washington every year. As a result, Washington boasts one of the highest business start-up rates in the nation.3 These new businesses typically fall into the category of small businesses. According to the Small Business Administration, the more than 195,000 small businesses in Washington make up 98 percent of all businesses in the state and employ 1.2 million employees; or more than 55 of the total workforce. 4

Many of these businesses are owned and run by immigrants. According to the most recent census, over 10 percent of Washingtonians were foreign born.5 Between 1991 and 2000, 9 million people entered the country at a rate of 3.4 percent per year – the highest number in history, and the highest rate in any decade since the 1930s. Immigration rates continue to rise despite the events of September 11th and the subsequent economic downturn.6 Unlike times past, immigration patterns no longer seem to track the health of the U.S. economy.

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