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Gregoire names PNNL’s Schwenk to state economic development commission

August 11, 2011 Share This!

  • PNNL's Mike Schwenk was appointed to the Washington Economic Development Commission by Governor Christine Gregoire.

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Olympia, Wash. – Washington Governor Christine Gregoire has named Pacific Northwest National Laboratory's Mike Schwenk to a newly-strengthened Washington Economic Development Commission that, for the first time, includes members from the private sector.  Schwenk, PNNL's director of technology deployment and outreach as well as a vice president for Battelle, joins 14 other private sector members appointed to the committee.

The Washington Economic Development Commission was established in 2003 to assist the governor and legislature by providing leadership, direction and guidance on a "long‐term and systematic approach" to economic development that is designed to result in global competitiveness, prosperity and economic opportunity for the state and its citizens.  

Until now, commission membership has been limited to state legislators and agency members, but legislation passed earlier this year expands the commission's membership to include leaders from the private sector.  The new commission members come from business, labor, education, association, trade, ports and local economic development organizations. 

In making the appointments, Gregoire noted the purpose for retooling the commission was to create a more strategic approach to fostering an innovation economy in the state.  "Washington has historically been home to some of the greatest innovators who went on to develop successful companies like Starbucks, Microsoft and Boeing," Gregoire said. "That innovative spirit - along with a strong business environment and an efficient regulatory process - is critical to our state's economic success.  This enhanced commission will ensure that our state continues to support our innovation industries, while encouraging new ideas, growth and opportunities."

Schwenk has been at PNNL since 1998 and has more than 30 years of technical and business management experience in government, non-profit, entrepreneurial and corporate settings.   For most of that time, he has championed efforts to move research out of the laboratory and into the hands of business.

While at PNNL, Schwenk has been a national leader in commercialization and technology transfer, overseeing those functions at PNNL as well as chairing two corporate councils comprised of individuals from six national laboratories dedicated to improving the innovation process.

Schwenk chairs the Washington State University Research Foundation, which is WSU's technology transfer arm.  He also chairs the Three Rivers Community Roundtable, a regional umbrella economic development organization, as well as the Mid-Columbia Energy Initiative.  In 2008, he was named Tri-Citian of the Year, an annual recognition awarded to an individual in the Tri-Cities who has demonstrated outstanding leadership for positive development, economic growth and quality of life.

Nationally, Mike chairs the Industrial Research Institute's Science and Technology Policy Committee, and he serves on the board of the International Economic Development Council.

Tags: Awards and Honors, Technology Transfer and Commercialization, Economic Development

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