Skip to main content Skip to navigation
Washington State University
Carson College of Business 2018 – Business in the Northwest

Business in the Northwest 2018

Insights from the Carson College of Business

What is the perceived business climate in the Northwest? And what do business leaders in the region think the future of our economy looks like?

In a new report, Business in the Northwest 2018, Washington State University’s Carson College of Business sheds light on how regional business leaders feel about the business climate today, how they are preparing for the future, and what they need to succeed. The inaugural study found that, overall, Northwest business leaders feel the region is poised to take advantage of positive factors fueling economic prosperity, such as income stability and job growth. However, some are also apprehensive about the future growth potential of business in the region.


Despite overall positivity, business leaders are worried about the future

The business climate in the Northwest is perceived to be changing in a good way, with 9 in 10 regional business leaders reporting the climate has been steady or strengthening in the last three years. Despite the overall positivity, some business leaders are also uncertain about the future, with nearly half reporting they are worried about the growth potential of business in the region.


feel the business climate has been changing in a good way


are worried about the overall growth potential of business in the region


Government support needed to solve community issues & drive business success

While most business leaders feel their company contributes to the economic growth, overall quality of life, and job growth, many also feel job loss to automation, traffic congestion, and housing affordability are hurting the community. While business leaders recognize they play a role in this, they are looking to government to provide solutions to problems that have arisen as a result of economic growth. In addition to solving community problems, the government also plays a role in driving business success — and business leaders want federal government support on issues such as corporate taxes, transportation improvements, and public higher education aid.


Businesses are ready to create more jobs, and they feel enough qualified candidates are out there, but they’re having trouble finding and retaining talent

Echoing the overall positive outlook for business in the Northwest, business leaders see an opportunity to create new jobs in the region but need help finding the right talent. In fact, 60 percent reported they are struggling to find qualified undergraduates from area universities when hiring.


say their company is in a position to create more jobs


1 in 4

business leaders feel their company should partner more with area universities to identify potential employees


Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is a growing movement in the Northwest, with medium-sized businesses leading the way

Across the Northwest, awareness and appreciation for corporate social responsibility (CSR) are
growing, with 57 percent of business leaders reporting their company currently has CSR
programs. Aside from altruism, business leaders see clear benefits to implementing such programs, including higher employee engagement and improved ability to navigate reputational issues.

Companies that report having CSR programs, by size:


Small (1 – 249 employees)


Medium (250 – 999 employees)


Large (1,000+ employees)


On a regional level, business leaders view the Northwest as a leader in innovation — but they don’t necessarily see it as the “next big thing” the region will be known for

In line with the rapid growth the Northwest has seen due to advances in technology, aerospace, e-commerce, and more, it is no surprise that 81 percent of business leaders view the region as more innovative than the rest of the country. But they don’t think technology-based innovation is the “next big thing” the Northwest will be known for.


What is the “next big thing” the Northwest will be known for?


say marijuana products and merchandise


say being a good place to raise a family

To learn more about the Business in the Northwest 2018 report,
please contact Sarah Druffel at