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Inside Olympia

Whether it’s Washington’s clean energy future, reducing homelessness, or building out broadband and electric vehicle infrastructure, all roads these days seem to point to the Washington State Department of Commerce. While the agency’s bread and butter is economic development, business recruitment and international trade, Commerce houses more than a hundred programs along with several state boards and commissions. Since 2019 the department has doubled in size, in terms of employees, mission and budget.

So what are the top priorities for this agency? Host Austin Jenkins sits down for the full hour with Commerce Director Mike Fong, who says his experience at various levels of government – federal, state and local – give him a broad and unique perspective to manage the growing agency.

According to Fong, what are the three biggest growth areas for Commerce? One, housing and homelessness. The state government “workhorse” for funding affordable housing, the Housing Finance Commission, is housed in Commerce. Two, the green economic transformation and clean energy revolution. And the third area is pursuing the myriad federal funding opportunities currently available for various infrastructure and programs.

Just this week, Fong took part in two press conferences with Governor Inslee and others, one announcing federal “Solar For All” funding being released to Washington state, the other announcing a $45-million EV rebate program to enable low-income Washingtonians to buy or lease electric vehicles.

Fong talks affordable housing, clean energy, broadband expansion and equity, and much more, this week on Inside Olympia.