Small businesses drive job growth on Main Streets all across America. In Washington state, more than 500,000 small businesses employ 1.3 million workers. Maria has worked to expand access to capital for small businesses and entrepreneurs. Washington state is one of the most-trade dependent states in the nation, and Maria consistently pushes for new trade opportunities for the state’s companies.

Washington is also home to the second highest concentration of aerospace engineers in the country and nearly 375,000 technology jobs. Maria fights for investments in the job-training programs that give workers the skills they need to seize these 21st century jobs. As more veterans enter the civilian workforce Maria focuses on helping them excel in the private sector. Maria supports Washington state’s place as a hub for technology by pushing for the next generation of innovators and industries like clean energy.

Small Business Growth 

Small businesses are a key economic engine for Washington state’s economy. More than 500,000 small businesses in Washington employ 1.3 million workers, accounting for more than half of the entire state workforce.

As a member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship, Maria supports small business growth in Washington state and around the country. In 2010 Maria was a leader in passing the landmark Small Business Jobs Act, which expanded access to capital for small businesses.

President Barack Obama, who signed the legislation into law in 2010, praised Maria’s efforts to pass the Small Business Jobs Act, calling her a “champion of small businesses.”

“Nobody pushed us harder to understand the connection between small banks and small business more than Maria Cantwell.Treasury Department Counselor Gene Sperling, on Maria’s efforts to pass the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010.    

  • Helping Washington Small Businesses Grow: After the economic collapse of 2008, many small businesses in Washington state struggled to stay afloat. Working with Washington state small businesses, Maria spearheaded efforts to get capital flowing to businesses on Main Street.

    Maria was a Senate leader in passing the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010. By decreasing small business loan fees and increasing small business loan guarantee limits, the Act enables small businesses to get access to loans and grow their companies. For example, Seattle-based company, Elysian Brewing Co., used expanded lending to build a new brewing facility in Georgetown and hire 35 new employees.
  • Getting Banks to Lend to Main Street: As part of the Small Business Jobs Act, Maria championed Senate efforts to quickly get capital flowing to community banks that provide loans to small businesses on Main Street. Maria led the development of the Small Business Lending Fund, which became law in 2010 with the Small Business Jobs Act. The Small Business Lending Fund worked to expand access to capital at healthy community banks – enabling small businesses to make long-postponed investments, expand their businesses and hire new employees.

    The Small Business Lending Fund has enabled Washington community banks such as Peoples Bank and Puget Sound Bank to increase lending to small businesses looking to expand.
  • Helping Small Businesses Compete in the Global Economy: The Small Business Jobs Act championed by Maria also provided small businesses the tools to increase their exports and compete in foreign markets. The State Export Promotion Grant Program helps small businesses reach more customers around the world – a particularly important tool for businesses in Washington state, where many jobs depend on trade.

    As many as 100 Washington small businesses will benefit from STEP in 2012, according to Washington Department of Commerce estimates. The State Export Promotion Grant Program enables these businesses to sell more Washington goods overseas and support jobs in the state.

    “Without the assistance and programs from the Washington State Department of Commerce, we would have been unable to get access to the key decision makers at important global manufacturers in markets such as China. As a result, we accomplished swift decisions to move forward and received assistance to get up and running,” Richard Counihan, CEO of Enprecis.

    Click here to find out more about small business opportunities in your region.

  • Investing in Small Business Innovation: Maria has repeatedly advocated modernizing the Small Business Innovation Research program, which enables small businesses to use research and innovation to help create jobs and grow the economy. Washington’s small businesses play an integral role in the state’s economy, employing 54.6 percent of all private sector employees. The Small Business Innovation Research program – which was extended for six years in December 2011 with Maria’s support – promotes entrepreneurship in Washington by supporting critical startup and development stages for small businesses and enabling new companies to find innovative ways for their technology, products and services to reach the commercial market.

    In the last decade, 1,000 high-tech businesses in Washington have utilized the SBIR program for strong research and development programs. Small Business Innovation Research program-supported technologies include communication antennas for first responders in disaster zones, vehicles for firefighters combating wildfires, and sensors to detect brain injuries for high school athletes. In Washington, SBIR paved the way for Snoqualmie-based Optiva Corporation's creation of the SONICARE Power toothbrush, which helped the company grow into a $300 million business and create 500 jobs.

    Find out more about research opportunities for small businesses.
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Maria believes that when seniors retire, America has a responsibility to provide for them and ensure that their retirements are secure.  Maria has worked to ensure that seniors get retirement benefits they have earned, and the dependable prescription drug and health care plans they deserve.

Maria has worked to preserve Social Security and Medicare for Washington seniors. She has fought back against attempts by both parties to cut Social Security and Medicare – and has worked to ensure that Washingtonians can count on full Social Security benefits for generations to come.

Preserving Social Security

More than one million Washingtonians received Social Security benefits in 2010, according to the U.S. Social Security Administration. Maria has worked to preserve and strengthen Social Security benefits for Washington’s seniors and retirees. 

  • Preserving Social Security: Maria has repeatedly worked to make sure that Social Security benefits keep pace with inflation, reflect the rising costs of living and the real costs of essentials like groceries, health care and utility bills (Vote 198).

    Announcing new 2012 cost-of-living adjustments (COLA) that will affect an estimated 1,089,887 Washingtonians, Maria said,  “This long-overdue boost means $500 more in the pockets of Washingtonians. Social Security needs to keep pace with increases in essential items, so that Washington seniors don’t have to choose between paying their bills and buying needed medications.

    Maria has worked to ensure that Social Security remains solvent, effective and a source of certainty for today’s seniors and tomorrow’s retirees. She has worked to protect Social Security from privatization schemes that would have resulted in deep cuts to the program. She helped block attempts that would have chipped away at Social Security to pay for new spending or tax cuts at the expense of seniors, retirees, and disabled workers, and in 2006 she voted to block President George W. Bush’s efforts to convert Social Security to risky private accounts.

    “Privatizing Social Security won’t fix our nation’s safety net,” Maria said in reaction to President Bush’s 2006 plan. “It will stretch thin and tear it apart, at a time when hard-working families and seniors are counting on it most.”

    Learn more about Social Security in your county.

College Affordability

  • Expanding Access to College: As Maria says, “No one should be forced to mortgage their future to pay for their education.”  With the help of Pell Grants, Maria became the first member of her family to graduate from college. She has continually championed efforts to make college affordable for future generations by expanding Perkins Loans and Pell Grants. She recently urged President Obama to maintain robust support for Pell Grant awards, and she fought to block Bush Administration cuts to Pell Grants that could have made college education unattainable for millions of students. 

    To ensure that Washington families could afford to keep up with soaring tuition costs, Maria helped pass the College Cost Reduction Act into law in 2007 (H.R.2669). The law improved the Pell Grant program by increasing the maximum grant to $5,400 by 2012. The law also helped Pell Grant recipients going into public service careers to pay back loans.

    In 2010, 134,000 Washington students received Pell Grants; nationwide, Pell Grants help to make higher education possible for more than eight million students each year.
  • Keeping College Affordable: In 2009 Maria voted to create the American Opportunity Tax Credit, providing up to $2,500 per year to help families afford college. The credit is available for a full four years of postsecondary education, helping students with expenses for textbooks and improving college savings accounts to include purchases of computer technology equipment. In 2011, an estimated 171,000 Washingtonians claimed the American Opportunity Tax Credit, with an average tax break of $2,000. In 2010 Maria helped extend this tax credit for two more years (P.L. 111-312).  
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  • Tax Fairness for Washington State:  For nearly two decades, Washington taxpayers were penalized because the federal tax code did not allow deduction of state and local sales taxes. That disparity ended in 2004 when Maria successfully restored the deduction. For the first time since 1986, taxpayers in Washington and other states that have no state income tax were able to deduct sales taxes from their federal income tax. But the extension was never made permanent, requiring repeated approval by Congress.

    Maria has led the effort each year to extend the state sales tax deduction for future years. The deduction provides tax fairness to residents of eight states without income taxes. In February 2012 Maria, along with Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) and 11 other Senators from both parties, urged leaders on the Senate Finance Committee to make extending the state and local sales tax deduction a top priority. Nearly 850,000 Washingtonians took advantage of the deduction and reduced their taxable income by over $1.8 billion for 2009, according to the most recent data published by the IRS. Maria secured an extension of the sales tax deduction in December 2010 – which expired at the end of 2011 – and has consistently introduced legislation to make the extension permanent to avoid the economic uncertainty of temporary extensions.
  • Cutting Small Business Taxes:  In 2010 Maria helped lead the passage of eight new small business tax cuts as part of the Small Business Jobs Act. The bill cut taxes for small businesses’ capital investments, new equipment and start-up expenses.

    Find out more about tax cuts from the Small Business Jobs Act.
  • Expanding Research & Development: As a member of the Senate Finance Committee and Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship, Maria has advocated for tax incentives to help small businesses create more jobs through innovative research and development programs. Maria has repeatedly worked to extend the Research and Development Tax Credit, and in late 2011 she cosponsored legislation that would increase the credit rate and make the credit permanent (S.1577).

    “Every great economic increase in our nation’s history has been built on research and development. The R&D tax credit works,” Maria said in 2003. “It creates jobs and strengthens the economy. And more R&D is a key long-term answer to today’s economic problems.”

    Read more on Maria’s recent efforts to make the R & D credit permanent.
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Washington is home to dynamic and innovative industries, including the second highest concentration of aerospace engineers in the country, nearly 375,000 technology-based jobs and a fast-growing healthcare workforce.

Maria fought against unfair foreign subsidies to help Boeing win the competition for the next-generation tanker, which could support 11,000 Washington jobs. She has worked to bolster Washington’s aerospace industry and ensure that the Pacific Northwest remains a worldwide aviation leader with a skilled aerospace workforce.

Maria has fought to expand the Workforce Investment Act, working hand-in-hand with local leaders in Washington to ensure that students and workers have access to the education and training they need to seize job opportunities in growing industries. Maria has worked to pass key tax credits that spur investment in research and development projects and enable businesses to expand and create jobs. Her efforts are helping preserve and create thousands of jobs among Washington’s innovative businesses and workers who manufacture leading aerospace technology, create breakthrough biomedical advances and harness economic opportunities in clean energy. 

Bringing Tanker Jobs to Washington State

“Winning the tanker contest will be a significant economic boon for our state… With so much at stake, we must ensure the long overdue tanker competition is fair and transparent.” – Senator Maria Cantwell, 4/9/09

  • Keeping Tanker Jobs in Washington State:  Maria was instrumental throughout the fight to ensure a fair competition to build a new generation of tankers for the Air Force.  With Washington jobs, taxpayer dollars and national security on the line, Maria fought to make sure that workers at Boeing had a fair chance at winning the competition to build a new generation of tankers for the Air Force. Boeing’s victory will support 11,000 jobs in Washington state.

    Ultimately, American workers’ ingenuity and sweat equity overcame the illegal foreign subsidies that propped up Airbus’ bid. When the Air Force selected Boeing as the “clear winner” in February 2011, it was also a resounding victory for Washington’s aerospace supply chain. The Boeing win is expected to bring in $693 million in annual economic activity for the region and will advance Washington’s leading role in defense innovation. Bringing home the tanker will support jobs at 68 Boeing suppliers in Washington – 65 percent of which are small businesses.

    “This was a real victory of our congressional delegation… This is, I think, our greatest victory in the history of the state.” – U.S. Representative Norman Dicks, 2/24/11

    Read more about Maria's efforts to keep tanker jobs in Washington state.

Improving Job-Training for Washington Workers

“Getting companies and educational communities engaged is an effort led by U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell… Cantwell rightly challenges the aerospace industry and education and workforce-training institutions to start preparing for the future.”Seattle Times Editorial, 10/31/11

  • Investing in 21st Century Job Skills: Maria is leading efforts to expand investment in job training programs that match workers with the skills to fill 21st century jobs. Currently, Washington state faces a shortage of skilled workers. In late 2009 and early 2010, one in four Washington companies seeking to hire new workers had trouble finding skilled applicants to fill jobs, according to a study conducted by America’s Edge.

    To close this gap in job skills and to put Washingtonians back to work, Maria has fought to extend the Workforce Investment Act (WIA), which provides critical job training and support to prepare youth, current workers and displaced workers with the skills for high-demand occupations. Maria has fought against proposed cuts to WIA and has been a consistent advocate for workforce development training in industries including clean energy technology, health care information-technology and aerospace training.  

    Nationwide, more than eight million youth and adults received critical training and related services from workforce investment programs in 2009 and WIA-supported programs helped 4.3 million Americans find jobs.

    In 2010 WIA-funded programs served more than 350,000 Washingtonians. Nearly 12,000 Washingtonians looking for work received critical skills training from WIA programs. During the same time period Washington’s 12 Workforce Development Councils, which serve local communities across the state, helped 78 percent of jobseekers seeking help to find jobs.

    Read more about the Workforce Investment Act in Washington. 

    Maria recently urged President Obama to restore strong support for WIA programs. In June 2011 Maria joined a small group of her colleagues in calling on key Senate appropriators to fully fund and support Workforce Investment programs. Maria also met in 2011 with local advocates at South Seattle Community College to address the importance of job training in Washington state.
  • Developing a Skilled Aviation Workforce: : Over the next decade, Washington state faces 21,000 aerospace job openings. This is due to a “perfect storm” of increased demand, impending retirements and new technology. Filling this skills gap is crucial to maintaining American aerospace competitiveness, and to Washington state’s economy. Washington is home to more than 650 aerospace companies, which employ more than 90,000 workers and 17 percent of all U.S. aerospace workers. 

    Washington is home to more than 650 aerospace companies, which employ more than 90,000 workers representing 17 percent of all U.S. aerospace workers. As Chair of the Senate Aviation Subcommittee, Maria has led efforts to ensure that Washington remains a 21st century hub for the commercial aviation industry.

    For example, GE Aviation in Yakima has grown substantially in recent years, with more than 40 new employees in 2011. But the company still faces challenges finding qualified workers to support that growth.

    “It is critical that we continue to invest in turning out 21st century skilled aerospace workers to meet our growing demand,” said Mark Seiber, plant manager for GE Aviation in Yakima, during Senator Cantwell’s visit there in 2011. “Having access to a well-trained, educated workforce is essential to our continued growth and I thank Senator Cantwell for her efforts in this area as Chair of the Aviation Subcommittee.”

    In 2003 Maria championed legislation that created the Federal Aviation Administration Center of Excellence for Advanced Materials in Transport Aircraft Structures (AMTAS), which partners academic institutions, local industry leaders and government agencies for research, education and workforce training programs. Maria played a key role in supporting the University of Washington’s efforts to lead the center.

    AMTAS supports the aerospace industry’s research in the use of advanced aviation materials, such as composites and aluminum alloys, for use in civilian transport aircraft. Innovative research conducted by AMTAS students and scientists helped address safety and certification issues for building aircraft with composite materials. These findings allowed the Federal Aviation Administration to quickly certify the new 787 Dreamliner.

    Read more about the Center of Excellence for Advanced Materials in Transport Aircraft Structures.

  • Educating the Next Generation of Washington Innovators: Washington state ranks first in the nation in the concentration of science, technology, energy, and mathematics (STEM) related jobs — and demand for these jobs is growing. Maria is working to strengthen STEM initiatives, and to prepare students to fill high-tech jobs and remain leaders in innovation. In 2007 Maria cosponsored and helped pass the America COMPETES Act, which invested in STEM education and bolstered research in science and technology. In 2010, Maria supported a bill that extended and strengthened the AMERICA COMPETES Act.

    Read more about Maria's long-standing leadership on boosting STEM.

  • Jobs and Training for Trade-Affected Workers: Maria has fought to extend the Trade Adjustment Assistance program, which helps trade-affected workers transition to new jobs. Maria recently helped to pass an extension of Trade Adjustment Assistance, which President Obama signed into law in October 2011.

    Trade Adjustment Assistance gives workers an opportunity to get the training and support they need to re-enter the workforce in fast-growing sectors of the economy. In 2010, these programs helped more than 5,000 Washingtonians find new jobs in dozens of industries.

    Click here to find out more about available Trade Adjustment Assistance training in Washington.

Investing in Healthcare and Biotech Jobs

Maria has worked to boost Washington’s growing biotech sector, which employs tens of thousands of Washingtonians who are producing cutting-edge research. In 2009, 381,546 people were employed in Washington’s technology-based industry, according to May 2010 study conducted by the University of Washington. Maria has also worked to expand training for skilled health care professionals to match the needs of the growing industry.

  • Creating Biotech Jobs: Washington’s growing biotech industry supports thousands of jobs and produces groundbreaking research that helps doctors better diagnose, treat and prevent diseases. To support the growth of biotech jobs, in 2010 Maria worked to pass the Qualifying Therapeutic Discovery Project Credit Program, which provides grant opportunities for biotech companies to expand their innovative research efforts. Maria stated, “These competitive grants provide innovative small biotech firms with the capital necessary to sustain their promising research in a tough economic climate… Medical innovation is a key way to lower health care costs, which also helps protect and create high-paying jobs and bring critical new drugs to market.”  Find out more about the Qualifying Therapeutic Discovery Project Program.
  • Improved Job Training for Nurses:  The registered nurse workforce is projected to grow faster than the average of all occupations through 2020, according to a January 2012 report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The number of registered nurses will increase by 26 percent, adding more than 700,000 new nurse jobs to the workforce. 

    Maria championed a provision, which passed in 2010, to grow the nurse workforce and ensure that Washingtonians can obtain the job training and education needed to get high-demand jobs as nurses. Maria’s provision provides financial incentives for hospitals to bolster workforce training for nurses and nursing faculty, to enhance diversity in the nursing workforce, and to make nursing education more affordable.

    Read more about the job outlook for nurses.

  • Supporting Health Information Technology Jobs: To ensure that Washingtonians have the skills needed to fill jobs in the emerging health care information technology (IT) sector, Maria has led efforts to boost investment in workforce training programs. She has repeatedly fought to extend the Workforce Investment Act (WIA), which helps the Washington workforce gain key skills for new jobs in health care IT. For example, WIA-supported workforce development programs in health IT are helping to train more than 10,000 new health IT professionals in 82 community colleges across all 50 states.
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Washington state is one of the most trade-dependent states in the country. Maria has consistently been a leader on trade agreements that expand the market for Washington products. Maria has also worked to strengthen programs that create new export opportunities for Washington goods and help Washington exporters navigate foreign markets. 

Find out more about export opportunities for small businesses.

Supporting Washington Products and Jobs

  • Opening Markets to Washington Goods: Maria has repeatedly led efforts to support Washington jobs and products by opening foreign markets and reducing tariffs that hold back Washington goods.
  • Increasing Exports to South Korea, Columbia and Panama: In 2011 Maria worked to pass bipartisan trade agreements to boost trade with South Korea, Columbia and Panama. The free trade agreements lifted tariffs on many key Washington crops such as cherries, potatoes, apples, and pears. The agreements are expected to increase exports by up to $52.8 million per year. The agreements will increase U.S. exports by $13 billion, according to the International Trade Commission. Maria helped shepherd the trade agreements through the Senate Committee on Finance, and helped to pass them into law in October 2011.
  • Boosting Exports to Mexico: Maria has consistently supported increased access for Washington goods to vital markets in Mexico. In April 2012, Maria urged the United States Trade Representative to work more aggressively to fully open Mexico to fresh potatoes from the United States. The potato industry supports 23,500 jobs in Washington and adds more than $4.6 billion to the state’s economy. In 2003 Maria visited Mexico to urge the government to remove trade barriers on fresh potato imports, which had prevented Washington farmers from accessing the large Mexican market. One month later, an agreement was reached to allow imports of fresh potatoes from Washington state. Maria worked to end harmful tariffs on agricultural exports — such as apples, grapes, pears, cherries — that inhibited trade between Mexico and Washington for nearly a decade. The tariffs were finally lifted in October 2011, after years of work by Maria and others in the Washington delegation.

    Read more about Maria's efforts to boost the trade economy in Washington.

  • Improving Trade and Travel with Asia: In November 2011, Maria championed the passage of legislation to boost Washington’s trade economy by improving accessibility for trade and travel to the Asia-Pacific region. Maria’s legislation expedites travel from the Asia-Pacific region — encouraging visitors from 21 countries to do business in Washington. 
    “As a growing manufacturing business, SeaCast depends on international travel to conduct business and grow exports,” said Ty Ueland, director of SeaCast, Inc., a manufacturing business with facilities in Marysville and Seattle. “The APEC Business Travel Card facilitates our efforts to reach key markets as we look to expand our business in the Asia Pacific.”

    Exports to Asia-Pacific region countries are integral to the continued success of the export economy in Washington state. Washington state exports to the Asia-Pacific region were valued at $37 billion, or 69 percent of the total value of all Washington state products exported in 2010, according to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative.

    Click here to read about Maria’s efforts to launch a comprehensive freight initiative that improves the movement of Washington goods.  
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