Gov. Jay Inslee touts state programs during visit to Union Gap's Liberty Bottleworks


UNION GAP, Wash. — As Gov. Jay Inslee browsed the colorful display of aluminum bottles, he picked out a few for his family, including his three grandchildren.

“Do you have a Minions one?” he asked employees at Liberty Bottleworks, referring to characters in the popular children’s movie of the same name.

They didn’t, but Inslee still came away with several purchases and was impressed with the company, where everything, right down to the machines that mold the aluminum into bottles, is made in the U.S.

“I’m very proud of companies that are creating new technologies, new products,” he said during a brief speech to employees during his visit Tuesday. “We are seeing the best of Washington right here.”

Inslee’s stop at Liberty Bottleworks is part of a multicity tour evaluating the success of different state programs offered to businesses across the state.

In 2013, Liberty Bottleworks, which has been in business for more than five years, received $2,500 in funding through the State Trade Expansion Program, which helps companies enter or expand access to foreign markets.

That money allowed the company to market its product in several countries, including Japan, South Korea and Singapore.

General manager Aaron Collier said the marketing funds resulted in about $50,000 in international sales.

Inslee said such programs has been essential in bringing new jobs to the state and again noted a claim he’s made often during his campaign — the creation of 250,000 jobs during his first term.

He said he especially likes to see the programs’ impact on small and startup businesses such as Liberty Bottleworks.

“This isn’t the Boeings and the Microsofts,” he said.

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