The West Coast is known for many things, including Hollywood movies, juicy oranges, sandy beaches, snow-capped mountains, redwood forests, a rugged coastline, crashing surf and thousands of wineries. West Coast manufacturing probably isn’t anywhere near as well known, but it should be!
One of the United States’ fastest-growing manufacturing regions, the West Coast is a hotbed of opportunity for companies with new products and leading-edge ideas, and a center of concentrated manufacturing intelligence. Industry data bears it out: California alone has close to 36,000 manufacturing firms employing 1.3 million people, and exported $154 billion worth of manufactured goods in 2018. Not only that, the state’s total output from manufacturing is more than $300 billion. Keeping that in mind, is it any wonder California is the nation’s leading industrial state and ranks first for almost every general manufacturing category?  By any measure, the golden state is leading the wave of West Coast manufacturing.
From California, jump on Highway 101 and take it up the coast to Oregon, where more than 5,000 manufacturing firms employ close to 200,000 people, almost $20 billion worth of manufactured goods was exported in 2018, and total manufacturing output is more than $47 billion. Combine Oregon and California, and the aforementioned wave of West Coast manufacturing becomes a tidal wave.
Next up the coast is Washington, where close to 7,000 manufacturing firms employ an average of 288,000 people, $63 billion worth of manufactured goods was exported in 2018, and total manufacturing output is more than $58 billion. Add Washington’s figures to those of Oregon and California, and the tidal wave of West Coast manufacturing is now a tsunami.
It’s clear that a lot of manufacturing takes place on the West Coast, but what kind of manufacturing is it?
California is among the nation’s leading producers of chemicals; food, beverage and tobacco products; machinery; fabricated metals; petroleum and coal products; motor vehicles and parts; and plastic and rubber products. It is also home to numerous technology products, most of them high-tech computer goods. In fact, computer and electronic products top the list of California’s manufacturing sectors, accounting for almost $1 billion. The state is also home to a significant portion of the aerospace industry, which represents a very large chunk of the California economy (aerospace and other transportation equipment account for almost $18 million). Research shows that the California aerospace industry is larger than both agriculture and Hollywood combined, and that California is responsible for 9 percent of the global market share for aerospace.
Aerospace is also a key industry in Washington, as are food manufacturing, clean technology, information and communication technology, forest products, life science and global health, maritime, and the military and defense sectors. The No. 1 manufacturing sector in Washington is aerospace and other transportation equipment, accounting for almost $35 million.
Meanwhile, in Oregon, computer and electronic products are the main manufacturing sector, adding up to nearly $15 million. Other top manufacturing sectors in Oregon are food, beverage and tobacco products; wood products; machinery; fabricated metal products; primary metals; paper; chemicals; and aerospace and other transportation equipment. 
Ready to find out for yourself what West Coast manufacturing has to offer? Visit WESTEC, the premier West Coast manufacturing event, Sept. 24-26 at the Long Beach Convention Center.