Thursday, December 13,
Olympia, WA – Brian Bonlender today announced his planned departure as director of the Washington Department of Commerce. He has been in the position since Feb. 1, 2013, and his last day with Commerce will be Jan. 15, 2019.
Bonlender, 48, said that while the Commerce job has been the most rewarding he has ever had, after six years it is time for a more sustainable schedule with his wife and two young children.
“This has been an incredible opportunity to serve Washington communities, and a true honor to serve Governor Inslee in this capacity,” Bonlender said. “I am so proud of the work Commerce does every day to strengthen communities. Since the depths of the Great Recession, I know they will continue this impressive work well beyond my tenure.”
Bonlender assumed the helm of Commerce during the depths of the Great Recession. During his leadership, Commerce increased company recruitments by 250 percent, led the country in small business export assistance, and created industry sector economic development strategy. Since January 2013, Washington has had the #1 growing GDP in the country, the #1 state in wage growth, and the economy created 500,000 jobs.
More recently, Bonlender and Commerce have focused on the housing affordability and homelessness challenges facing the state. Over the past several years, Commerce moved new and existing resources into interventions that increased efficiencies by 40 percent. Commerce also is pursuing innovative strategies to encourage more new home construction to address housing supply crisis.
“Washington has the best economy in the country and has also been named the best place to work. Brian and his team at the Department of Commerce have played a big role in that,” Gov. Jay Inslee said. “I thank him for all his work on behalf of Washingtonians, and I wish him the very best in future endeavors.”