International Trade and Investment
Snohomish County’s economy thrives through its global connections. More than 60 percent of jobs in Snohomish County are related to trade, according to analysis by Economic Alliance Snohomish County and the University of Washington Bothell. That's one of the highest levels in the United States. The Port of Everett—the fifth-largest port on the U.S. west coast in export value—supports 34,000 jobs in Snohomish County and the north Puget Sound region. Foreign investors from around the world, across a broad range of industries, have made Snohomish County a leading base of operations, supporting high-skill, high-wage jobs and community growth.
Our county’s future prosperity depends on expanding these international relationships—supporting local businesses of all sizes enter into new markets and expand their exports, encouraging international partners to invest in Snohomish County workers and communities, and welcoming international visitors and students who support our economy and enrich our communities.
Are you a Snohomish County business owner thinking about exporting your products and services to overseas markets? The following resources may help you get started:
- Export Basics (export.gov): The U.S. Department of Commerce Foreign Commercial Service has a comprehensive set of frequently asked questions and information for businesses considering exporting for the first time.
- Build Your Export Plan: Export Washington features a list of key questions and factors for first-time exporters to consider.
- SBA Export Business Planner for Your Small Business: A resource from SBA for small businesses developing their export plan.
- Sno-Isle Libraries Business & Finance Research: Use your library card from Sno-Isle Libraries to access Business Monitor International Industry Reports and Economist Intelligence Unit reports on countries and global commodities in the ABI/INFORM Trade and Industry database. Use the Business Source Premier and Small Business Reference Center databases to locate articles on international business news.
Exporters should be mindful of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and other U.S. laws, regulations and other initiatives focused on anti-corruption efforts. Some information about these is available on the Export-Import Bank website. Exporters should seek legal counsel regarding export and import laws and regulations that may affect specific transactions.
Information on export financing opportunities for Snohomish County businesses, including grants and loans, is available through the Export Washington website.
State-level Export Financing Resources
- Export Finance Assistance Center of Washington: The Export Finance Assistance Center of Washington (EFACW) provides free export finance advice and counseling assistance to Snohomish County and other Washington State-based SME exporters. EFACW services include information on export finance, consultation services, and seminars and training for new and experienced exporters.
- State Trade and Export Promotion (STEP) Grant: The STEP grant, funded by the U.S. Small Business Administration, supports state programs that help small businesses access global markets and increase sales of world-class, American-made goods and services. These include the Export Voucher Program, which offers qualified companies new to exporting or expanding into new export markets up to $5,000 for export-related expenses (a minimum 25 percent cash match is required).
- Washington Small Business Credit Initiative: The Washington State Department of Commerce provides funding through three small business credit initiative programs.
Federal Government Financing Opportunities
- Trade Finance Guide: A Quick Reference for U.S. Exporters: This guide from the U.S. Department of Commerce International Trade Administration offers an easy-to-read overview of export finance products.
- Export-Import Bank: The Ex-Im Bank (“Ex-Im”) is the official U.S. export credit agency, assisting U.S. businesses of all sizes to finance the export of U.S. goods and services to overseas markets. Ex-Im has several products and services for U.S. small businesses looking to export for the first time or to expand their exports. Ex-Im has an office in Seattle.
- U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA): SBA offers loans and grants to small businesses.
- Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC): OPIC is the U.S. government’s development finance institution, supporting U.S. businesses in entering emerging markets. OPIC provides investors financing, guarantees, political risk insurance, and support forprivate equity investment funds. OPIC’s website includes information on resources and support available for U.S. small businesses seeking OPIC funding, and an SME business guide to help businesses navigate OPIC and other financing opportunities.
- United States Trade and Development Agency (USTDA): USTDA supports U.S. businesses export goods and services for development projects in emerging economies. USTDA provides grant funding to overseas project sponsors for the planning of projects that support the development of modern infrastructure and an open trading structure, through partnerships between U.S. companies and overseas project sponsors. Almost all USTDA contracts are reserved for small businesses, with many contracting opportunities for technical experts qualified in energy, transportation, project finance, health, manufacturing, information technology and telecommunications, water and the environment, and natural resources.
- USDA Export Credit and Incentive Programs: USDA administers export credit guarantee programs for commercial financing of U.S. agricultural exports.
In Snohomish County, the Port of Everettis a designated Foreign Trade Zone (FTZ). FTZs are considered to be outside of U.S. Customs territory, which means that businesses with operations in an FTZ can ship and receive components and merchandise there exempt from duty payments. For more information on FTZs, contact the Port of Everett and the Washington State Department of Commerce.
Snohomish County welcomes domestic and foreign investors considering doing business or locating facilities here. The county’s Office of Economic Development is ready to assist potential investors, and Snohomish County communities and businesses interested in learning more about and connecting with foreign investors and related resources.
Below are resources for investors considering locating their business in or expanding to Snohomish County, and for Snohomish County communities looking to attract investment:
- Attracting Foreign Direct Investment to Your Community: The Puget Sound Regional Council-Prosperity Partnership has developed this guide for communities seeking to attract foreign investment.
- EB-5: The Immigrant Investor Program, also known as “EB-5,” supports U.S. economic growth and job creation through capital investment by foreign investors. EB-5 is a federal program is administered by U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services that provides detailed information about program requirements and opportunities. USCIS has authorized 13 regional EB-5 centers in Washington state, with more information available through the Choose Washington portal.
- Washington State Overseas Offices: Washington State’s representative offices overseas can support foreign investors exploring business and investment opportunities, and Snohomish County communities looking to connect with foreign investors. The Washington State Department of Commerce has representatives in the European Union, China, Japan, India, Mexico, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam.
- FDI Resources: SelectUSA, part of the U.S. Department of Commerce, helps facilitate, accelerate and retain business investment in the United States. Its services support international and U.S. firms, as well as U.S. state, local or regional governments or economic development organizations.