If you ask most people to name a few things about the state of Washington, the word technology is likely to wind up somewhere in the mix. However, the birthplace of Microsoft and Amazon.com is also a biotech heavyweight. Washington contains one of the world’s largest life sciences clusters and is home to dozens of research institutes and some of the nation’s leading public research universities.
The biotech industry in Washington employs tens of thousands of people with high-wage, high-education jobs and stimulates more than $10.5 billion in state economic activity. On average, wages for the science employees is more than $80,000 per year, accounting for $1.6 billion in state wages.
Washington State Rep. John McCoy (D-Tulalip) has long been a strong voice for his state’s leadership in this industry. As the Chair of the House Technology, Energy, and Communications Committee, he has shown a special interest in expanding clean energy initiatives. A significant component of his work has concerned biofuels policy as a means of establishing Washington as a hub for this rapidly evolving field.
Furthermore, as an elder within the Tulalip Tribe, McCoy has led a number of successful initiatives that have established his tribe as a model for Native American economic development to sustain tribal community and culture. At this year’s NCSL Legislative Summit, I had the opportunity to sit down with Representative McCoy to discuss biotech economic development successes and challenges that face his state and its many reservations: