Gov. Jay Inslee signed legislation into law today to support rural economic development.

SB 5229, sponsored by Sen. Noel Frame (D-Seattle), expands the range of economic development projects that can be funded by the state’s Community Economic Revitalization Board (CERB), and ensures that CERB reports to the Legislature on the share of projects that use businesses owned by people of color, women and veterans.

“We need to make sure that people in every corner of Washington can build the infrastructure it takes for their economy to grow, businesses to succeed, and family-wage jobs to flourish,” said Frame. “This early site readiness work is one of the first and most important steps in attracting businesses to locate and expand in communities across Washington state, and this good little bill stands to make a big difference for communities seeking that investment.”

The Community Economic Revitalization Board grants and loans money to local governments and federally recognized tribes across Washington state for economic infrastructure which supports private business growth and expansion, including telecommunications, port facilities, and basic infrastructure like water, sewer, and energy.

The bill will expand CERB’s authority to include granting or loaning money for projects to do site readiness, one of the first steps in the construction process, which is an essential element in ensuring predictability for the rest of the construction work to come.

It will also increase the amount that CERB is allowed to grant from $50,000 to $200,000, beginning in 2029. From 2023 through 2029, the cap will be lifted altogether to ensure the board has the flexibility to manage funds that may come from the federal government.

The bill will also require CERB to report biennially to the Legislature on the percentage of projects that use businesses certified by the Office of Minority and Women’s Business Enterprise and the Department of Veterans Affairs, as well of those self-identifying as a qualifying business, but not yet certified.

The bill goes into effect 90 days after the end of the legislative session, on July 23, 2023.