March 5, 2018
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Passages: Former Starbucks CEO and philanthropist Orin C. Smith dies at 75

Iconic business leader Orin C. Smith, who was a key advisor to several Washington governors and a key leader of Starbucks, and was known for his philanthropy, died last Thursday at 75. He had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer last year.

Smith grew up in Chehalis in “humble beginnings,” the Centralia Chronicle wrote, and later worked his way to the corner office as CEO of Starbucks. His tenure at Starbucks from 2000 to his retirement in 2005 oversaw a major company expansion.

Smith was successful in both the public and private sector, having served as budget director for two Washington governors, and was an executive at transportation companies and a consulting practice.

But it’s his work as a philanthropist t7hat especially stands out, especially in southwestern Washington. Smith donated to Centralia College, the Chehalis Foundation, the local aquatic center and the Vernetta Smith Chehalis Timberland Library, named for his mother.

“What a great man he was,” Rep. Richard DeBolt, R-Chehalis, told the newspaper. “He gave so much for the community … Not very often in our lives do you have a philanthropist on that level.”

Smith later served as a regent at the University of Washington and on the board of The Walt Disney Company.

Starbucks Executive Chairman Howard Schultz said Smith taught him to “lead and to live with humanity,” the Seattle Times reported.

“He was the older brother I never had, always providing the wisdom and sage guidance to me and the company, while never seeking the stage nor the spotlight,” Schultz wrote in an email to Starbucks employees. “Always, shining the light and giving the credit to others. He made us all better, especially me. There would be no Starbucks of today, if not for Orin Smith.”

Gov. Jay Inslee called Smith "a Washington original" and wrote, "Orin was one of those people you go to when you needed a reasonable, forward-thinking perspective. He’s supported so many important efforts and helped many public leaders. He’ll be missed by many."

A memorial service for family will be held in Wyoming and another service will be held in Seattle at a yet-to-be-determined time, the Times reported. Donations can be made to the Jackson Community Foundation or the Chehalis Foundation.



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A Lifetime of Learning


Workforce development begins young, continues over lifetime

By AWB President Kris Johnson

We all want our kids to grow up in a state with good-paying job prospects and the training to match them.

Today, there is a laser focus by our association's membership and other groups about the need to fill the workforce pipeline with skilled, job-ready workers. There simply aren't enough workers to fill the high-tech, high-wage jobs available in our state and nation.

We're working to address that problem by advocating for robust career and technical programming in our middle and high schools, training and certificate programs for high-demand jobs at our state's community and technical colleges.

We'll be talking about those very issues at the second-annual AWB Workforce Summit on March 21 in Bellevue.

Read the full column in The Wenatchee Business World
Dealing with Debt

State needs to begin paying down its bond debt

By The Everett Herald Editorial Board

Duane Davidson, now in his second year of office, hasn't been one to pursue many policy issues with lawmakers, unlike his predecessor who outlined an ambitious tax reform proposal that earned little interest. But Davidson has taken a stand to defend against raids of the "rainy day" fund and asked lawmakers to consider using some of the additional revenue to pay down the state's bond debt, add to its "rainy day" reserves or pay more toward its unfunded pension obligations. Their choice.

"I think that money would be better spent paying down any debt, pick your debt," Davidson said.

And there's significant debt to pay down.

The state's Debt Affordability Study for 2018, released by Davidson's office, reports that the state's debt portfolio has over the course of the last 20 years grown from $6.8 billion to more than $19 billion and totals $21 billion when financing contracts are included....

Read the full editorial in The Herald
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