February 19, 2018
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AWB releases new Rural Jobs Outlook

Last year, AWB brought together hundreds of leaders and employers in two Rural Jobs Summits. The discussion was urgent, insightful and wide-ranging, covering ways to revitalize and support the parts of Washington that have not experienced the Seattle-area economic boom.

Now those discussions and recommendations have been crystalized into a concise report, the AWB Rural Jobs Outlook, available in print and online. The report highlights the areas that the Rural Jobs Summit participants identified as their top areas of concern and need:

  • Workforce: recruiting and training skilled employees
  • Tax fairness: a tax system that helps expand job growth
  • Regulatory reform: improving the sparse support for rural economic development
  • Infrastructure: fixing the crucial lack of investment to make it easier to hire and grow
  • Broadband: closing the big gap in reliable high-speed internet

"Rural communities are facing many challenges, but they are worth investing in," the report concludes.

AWB has crystalized its rural jobs push in this Legislative Objective, and is working on the issue with a new Rural Jobs Task Force, led by fifth-generation family ag businessman Alex McGregor.

Click to read the full Rural Jobs Outlook, or contact Mike Ennis, AWB government affairs director for rural issues, to learn more.

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B&O Tax Relief for Manufacturers
Support All Manufacturers

AWB tells House committee, 'It's time to let all manufacturers win'

By Jason Hagey, AWB

AWB President Kris Johnson called on lawmakers to lower the business and occupation (B&O) tax rate for all Washington manufacturers, not just those in some parts of the state, during a hearing Friday before the House Finance Committee.

In its current form, Substitute House Bill 2947 would lower the B&O rate for manufacturers in 30 counties. It would leave out nine counties, including many that consist largely of rural areas, such as Kitsap and Benton.

"It's time to let all manufacturers win," Johnson said, echoing language that Rep. Gael Tarleton, D-Ballard, used during a floor speech last week on a separate measure aimed at boosting Washington's boat manufacturers. "We're going to let our fishing fleet win," Tarleton declared before the House voted 97-1 in favor of her bill.
Read the full blog and watch the video at Olympia Business Watch
Preserving Local Commitment

Avista sale is good for customers, community

By Scott Morris, CEO, Avista Corp.

Six months ago, Avista and Hydro One announced plans to combine and form one of North America's largest regulated utilities. Since that time, as we've moved toward closing, our confidence has only grown in the benefits of this merger for all of our stakeholders, from our customers and employees to our shareholders and the communities we serve.

Given the central role that Avista plays in its service territories, both as an energy provider and a member of the community, we understand why customers and community members want assurances that they will continue to receive safe, reliable and high-quality energy at a fair price and that Avista will continue to be an active corporate citizen.

The short answer is that the proposed transaction is designed to help preserve -- and even enhance -- Avista's commitments to its customers and its communities. In a changing industry landscape, joining forces with Hydro One will help safeguard Avista's proud legacy and way of doing business...

Read the full op-ed in The Spokesman-Review
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