December 4, 2017
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Big winners announced at Evening of Excellence

Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories was named Washington's Employer of the Year at last week's Evening of Excellence. The other top winners were Alaffia (Connect), Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (Achieve), A&R Solar (Advance), Earth Friendly Products (Leading Environmental Practices), and Aslan Brewing (Entrepreneur of the Year). Sen. Judy Warnick was named Legislator of the Year. Marty Dickinson of Umpqua Bank was given AWB's Heavy Lifter Award.

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New Opportunity Washington Scorecard shows how state is faring against the rest of America

Washington state is now ranked 25th out of 50 states in a new analysis of its competitiveness and openness to opportunity. That's an improvement overall from the previous Opportunity Washington Scorecard, which pegged the state at 31st in the nation in the key measures of Achieve, Connect and Employ.

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'Chilling effect on business' after state panel recommends against Vancouver Energy project

The state's Energy Facility Site Evaluation Committee voted against permitting for the Vancouver Energy project last week after a one-year review process that stretched into four years. The final decision on the project is up to Gov. Jay Inslee. Business advocates said the ruling casts a shadow on the state's competitiveness for future investment.

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AWB kicks off fourth-annual D.C. Fly-in today in the nation's capital

More than 20 Washington employers are meeting with Washington's congressional delegation and other national leaders during the fourth-annual AWB D.C. Fly-in, which begins today.

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Tree-lighting, Santa visit signal start of holiday season in state Capitol

Secretary of State Kim Wyman joined AWB in the 29th annual lighting of Washington's tree in the state Capitol on Friday. AWB leads the Holiday Kids' Tree Project each year with the goal to help as many deserving families as possible during the Christmas and holiday season. Since 1989, the Holiday Kids' Tree Project has raised over $400,000 to purchase gifts for families in need.

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Improving Career Pathways

Rewarding, good-paying careers await hands-on workers

By AWB President Kris Johnson

As many as 740,000 good-paying jobs in the state's manufacturing sector are open. These are jobs that often require a trade certificate or a two-year degree.

Filling all those hands-on jobs means we must rethink not only how we close the skills gap, but also the "interest gap" for the next generation of builders, welders and makers.

Too often, these good-paying career pathways take a backseat to a four-year degree track. The good news is that both tracks -- the trades and a bachelor's degree -- can be equally successful.

I recently traveled to Switzerland with the governor and a group of business leaders and education experts from across the state to look at the country's successful and robust apprenticeship programs, which are geared toward engaging 16-19-year-olds in meaningful work.

In the Swiss system, young apprentices can easily shift career paths or seek higher education after earning their initial training diploma. It's focused on options and opportunities -- right after graduation and into the future. I heard from several young people who said they were "finished" with the classroom by ninth grade and eager to work with their hands...

Read the full column in The Wenatchee Valley Business World
Bigger Issues at Play

Blaming Amazon for the Seattle area's problems is lazy and wrong-headed

By Washington State Department of Commerce Director Brian Bonlender

Our thriving economy is bringing additional people who buy homes and use our transportation systems, and we have Amazon along with every other growing company to thank for that. But the problem isn't too many jobs, and the solution is definitely not to blame our job-creating engines. Over the course of many years, we've amassed a deficit of about 120,000 homes in the state.

Subtracting Amazon from the housing equation would leave us still experiencing growth and escalating housing prices, just like many other states, yet with tens of thousands fewer high-wage jobs.

Blaming our entire housing affordability crisis on Amazon ultimately leads to a defeatist attitude. It also does a massive disservice to people experiencing homelessness, families struggling to stay in their homes, and businesses trying to source a local workforce...

Read the full op-ed in The Puget Sound Business Journal
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