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Monday, July 29

SeaTac Council votes to send $15 minimum wage proposal to the ballot

SeaTac Council votes to send $15 minimum wage proposal to the ballot

Washington already has the nation’s highest minimum wage at $9.19 per hour (and it rises with inflation), but voters in SeaTac could increase it to $15 for airport-related workers after the city council last week agreed to put a union-backed initiative on the November ballot. It’s a local measure with national significance, an effort by national unions to create “a beachhead.” This measure would hurt the workers it professes to help by limiting job openings and eliminating entry-level jobs for entry-level workers. AWB’s Gary Chandler, vice president of government affairs, has been working with the SeaTac Chamber, hospitality trade associations and businesses in the SeaTac area to defeat this proposal.

Brunell to join U.S. Chamber’s national panel discussion on Affordable Care Act

AWB President Don Brunell will be part of a U.S. Chamber of Commerce panel discussion on implementation of the Affordable Care Act. Brunell will join senior executives from other regional chambers for the discussion on Sept. 23 in Washington, D.C., as part of a twice-yearly meeting of the Chamber of Commerce Committee of 100, an elite advisory panel.

New AWB website offers fresh look and members-only content

Have you visited the new AWB website, designed by AWB member SiteCrafting? In addition to an improved appearance, the new site includes a number of member-only features, including discounts and members-only prices on AWB products, the ability to register for upcoming events such as the 24-annual Policy Summit, archives of previous Fast Facts emails and future exclusive news content. Last week, members should have received an email with instructions about how to log into the site. Check your junk mail or spam folders if you didn’t receive the email or go here to retrieve a temporary password. For further assistance, email J-Anne Nepomuceno or call her at 800.521.9325. We hope you like our new look!

Illegal migrant workers staging strike as berry farm owners plan to bring in legal guest workers

A weeks-long labor dispute at a Burlington berry farm provides another example of why America needs comprehensive immigration reform. A largely undocumented group of migrant laborers at Sakuma Bros. went on strike and refused to leave housing provided for workers after the company attempted to bring in federally approved fruit pickers on guest worker visas, The Seattle Times reports (tiered subscription). A bipartisan compromise immigration reform bill in Congress has passed the Senate but is awaiting action in the House, where Republican leaders want it broken into pieces. Will a grand bargain lead to the breakthrough America needs? Stay tuned.

Moses Lake company in the spotlight as BMW rolls out all-electric vehicle in New York

BMW unveiled its new plug-in, emission-free car this morning in New York. The i3 uses composite fiber manufactured near Moses Lake to produce the world’s first mass-produced automobile chassis and body made of carbon fiber reinforced plastic. SGL Automotive Carbon Fibers, an AWB member, uses green energy from hydroelectric dams on the Columbia River to generate the strong, light-weight material Gov. Jay Inslee will attend the New York unveiling of the i3, touting Washington as a green place to do business. And although SGL’s Moses Lake plant, which employs 80 people, is doubling in size to expand production, AWB President Don Brunell notes that the tax incentive which helped lure SGL to Washington has expired. That’s just one of many ways Washington regulations make it an uncertain and expensive place for businesses old and new.

Two thirds in state support export terminals

A new poll from the highly respected Elway Research firm finds that the state’s voters support proposed export terminals in the Northwest by a 2 to 1 margin. The Alliance for Northwest Jobs and Exports, which commissioned the poll, notes that previous polls also show widespread support for these projects. Expanding the ports will create 11,885 jobs, generate $25 million in annual tax revenue and generate $115 million in annual payroll. AWB is part of the Alliance, joining a wide array of more than 60 business, labor, civic and agricultural organizations.

Plans underway for statewide transportation package

Although a transportation package didn’t pass this year in Olympia, lawmakers say there are important needs that must be paid for. In a meeting with The Columbian’s editorial board, two Republicans said a new transportation revenue package will be a top priority in 2014. "What's interesting about transportation is the needs don't go away," said Rep. Paul Harris, R-Vancouver.

Washington state’s credit rating upgraded to ‘stable’ from ‘negative’

Last week both Moody’s and the Fitch Group upgraded their ratings of Washington’s credit from “negative” to stable.” The change will help as the state prepares to sell $860 million in bonds, state Treasurer Jim McIntire said. Although challenges remain in meeting future school spending obligations, the Spokesman-Review said the upgrade is “a collective fist bump … an affirmation that the Legislature’s hard-fought budget was worth the acrimony.”

Boeing looks to cut costs, increase production; Airbus could procure more from Northwest

With both sales and competitive pressures growing, Boeing is looking at lower-cost places to do business. Boeing, the state’s largest employer with 85,000 workers, “peaked out” employment last year and has been slowly cutting jobs in Washington as it looks for locales “where we see lower cost rates.” (Seattle Times/tiered subscription) In response, a long-shot bid to make Washington a right-to-work state is gaining steam, but AWB President Don Brunell said Washington has many steps it could take to be a better place to do business. Meanwhile, one small bright spot comes from Boeing’s chief competitor. Although Airbus has no plans to build planes in Washington, it could increase its purchase of supplies from Washington.

Raising the bar on I-5: project will increase clearance on Skagit River bridge

A $4.5 million retrofit this fall will replace decorative curved beams over the remaining segments of the Skagit River I-5 bridge with straight crossbeams that are a full 18 feet above the roadway, The Seattle Times (tiered subscription) reports. The current arches are as low as 15 feet 6 inches at the right fog line, which is why an oversize load driving in the slow lane destroyed a section of bridge on May 23. A $7 million permanent replacement for that demolished segment will also be put in place this fall. Meanwhile, a sarcastic citizen initiative has been filed to immortalize anti-tax activist Tim Eyman by naming the failed bridge after him.

Growing numbers of Americans say economic recovery is a long way off

The recession has officially been over for four years, but that recovery hasn’t materialized for most Americans. In a new Pew Research poll, 44 percent say it will be a long time before the nation’s economy recovers, and another 26 percent say the economy isn’t there yet, but will recover soon. American optimism about the economy is eroding; last October, shortly before the election, only 36 percent said the recovery was a long way off.

Former state auditor Brian Sonntag joins Freedom Foundation to promote government accountability

Brian Sonntag, who retired this year after two decades as state auditor, has joined the Freedom Foundation as its senior fellow for government accountability. Sonntag, a Pierce County Democrat, will work on open government issues and to “increase accountability and citizen involvement within government.” Sonntag recently was inducted into the State Open Government Hall of Fame and in May received the C. David Gordon Award from AWB. This “real part-time” job at the Freedom Foundation comes on top of another new position as interim executive director of the Rescue Mission in Tacoma, The Olympian reports.

Seattle named hardest working city in the U.S.
Thanks to Seattle’s low unemployment rate, high cost of living, long commutes and a host of other factors, it has earned the title of hardest working city in America, according to a national ranking of the 50 biggest metro areas. Seattleites have another claim to fame: they toil in the shadow of the gorgeous but potentially deadly Mount Rainier, listed last week as the most dangerous volcano in North America.

Alaska Airlines will take to the skies on Hawaiian biofuel

Alaska Airlines has inked a deal to buy biofuel from Hawai’i BioEnergy starting as early as the fall of 2018. The green jet fuel will be made from woody biomass generated from feedstock by a consortium of three big landowners. The move is practical as well as ecological: this purchase will improve fuel supply integrity in Hawaii and allow Seattle-based Alaska Airlines to expand its offerings in the islands.

AWB Institute’s Mike Hudson appointed to Disability Employment Task Force

Gov. Jay Inslee has appointed Mike Hudson, the project manager for the AWB Institute, to serve on the state’s new Disability Employment Task Force. Hudson will serve a three-year term, helping the newly created panel to attract and retain workers with disabilities in all sectors of the economy. The AWB Institute created to help the state meet its goal of doubling the number of jobs attained by people with disabilities by 2015.


There’s still time! Nominations extended for 2013 Manufacturing Excellence Awards
There is still time to shine the limelight on the state’s most noteworthy manufacturers by submitting nominations for the AWB and AWB Institute’s 2013 Manufacturing Excellence Awards sponsored by UPS. Manufacturers are responsible for more than 70 percent of all private sector R&D, which ultimately benefits other manufacturing and non-manufacturing activities. Two-thirds of our nation’s total exports of goods and services are related to the manufacturing sector. The awards, sponsored by UPS, will be presented Oct. 25 at the 2013 Manufacturing Summit: Manufacturing Matters Now! Recipients will be featured in a video highlighting their accomplishments. Download the nomination form here. Applications are due by Friday, Aug. 9.

Add your voice to the discussion at AWB’s upcoming regional meetings
Tell us what’s on your mind during AWB’s 2013 Regional Meetings, which are coming to a city near you this September. These meetings are a great place to network with AWB members in your area. The meetings are open to both AWB members and non-member businesses to learn about the association’s proposed updated to the 2013-2014 legislative priorities. Our government affairs staff will be on hand to answer questions and legislators from local districts will be invited. We want to hear your ideas about how to get our state’s economy back on track. The meeting schedule:

  • Southwest WA (Vancouver) – Sept. 4, 8:30-10:30 a.m.
  • Central WA (Kennewick) – Sept. 5, 8:30-10:30 a.m.
  • Eastern WA (Spokane) – Sept. 6, 8:30-10:30 a.m.
  • South Puget Sound (Federal Way) – Sept. 10, 8:30-10:30 a.m.
  • North Puget Sound (Everett) – Sept. 11, 8:30-10:30 a.m.
  • Central Puget Sound (Bellevue) – Sept. 12, 8:30-10:30 a.m.

Please RSVP by Aug. 30 to Bonnie Millikan at 800.521.9325.

‘Morning Joe’ duo, Time magazine’s economy editor to headline Fall Policy Summit

The line-up for AWB’s 24th annual Policy Summit, sponsored by AT&T, will feature a powerful slate of speakers addressing national politics and economic issues. MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” team of Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski will keynote the dinner. Other featured speakers include:

  • Rana Foroohar, Time Magazine columnist and economy editor.
  • A CEO panel featuring Scott Morris, chairman of the board, president and CEO, Avista Corporation, Spokane, and Colin Moseley, chairman, Green Diamond Resource Company, and Ezra Eckhardt,President and Chief Operating Officer, Sterling Bank.
  • Health Care at a Crossroad … What’s Next? featuring Don Conant, an active AWB member and a member of the Washington Health Benefit Exchange Board; Jeff Rowe, executive vice president, Premera Blue Cross of Washington; Dr. Lee A. Antles, MD, West Olympia Internal Medicine; and Hadley Heath, a senior policy analyst at the Independent Women's Forum and an expert on the Affordable Care Act
  • Skills Gap Threatens Washington’s Economy: What’s the Solution? Panel of educators and business leaders moderated by Doug Bayne, Walla Walla Community College Foundation. Panelists include Lee Huntsman, University of Washington President Emeritus; Gerald Pumphrey, South Puget Sound Community College President, Retired (invited); and Brian Benzel, Vice President for Finance and Administration, Whitworth University.
  • Gov. Jay Inslee will address attendees at lunch on Wednesday, Sept. 18.

Policy Summit will be held Sept. 17-19 at Suncadia Resort in Cle Elum. Register online and go here for Suncadia room reservations. Follow Policy Summit on Twitter at @AWBSummit or by searching the hashtag #awbsummit13.

Policy Summit debuts new mobile app

Sponsorships are available now for AWB’s new Policy Summit mobile app. Later next month, attendees can download the new app onto smartphones, providing digital access to all of the summit materials, including event updates, social media integration, and the power to connect directly with speakers and guests. Email Anne Haller, AWB’s director of member relations and events, or contact her by phone at 360.943.1600 for complete sponsor details.

Annual golf tournament set for Rope Rider Golf Course Sept. 17

The AWB Institute is excited to host this year’s fundraising golf tournament, sponsored by Altria, for Washington Business Week — an educational program that offers students a chance to experience simulated career challenges in a general business setting or in the career-focused pathways of health care, energy, manufacturing and agriculture. The shotgun start at Rope Rider Golf Course is 10:30 a.m. sharp on Tuesday, Sept. 17, during AWB’s Policy Summit. Golfers will enjoy playing on this Jacobsen Hardy Design course, one of the nation's most respected course architecture firms. Registration is $140. Golf sponsorships are available here.

Conducting Effective Pre-Hire Interviews That Bring Results, Sept. 10

From the top executive to front-line employees, having the right people on your team is the key to executing any business strategy. The company with the most talented team wins — period. The pre-employment interview is crucial to understanding a candidate’s history and potential. Learn how you can effectively choose and ask clear and probing questions that lead to the right hire. Jenifer Lambert, vice president of TERRA Staffing Group, will lead a webinar with “tricks of the trade” to help you significantly improve your odds of selecting top performers that will provide your company a real competitive advantage. This session is geared toward any manager that has responsibility for hiring and will cover:

  • Avoiding potential legal landmines during the pre-hire process
  • Classic hiring mistakes that all managers make and how to avoid them
  • An “ESP” process that will help you get beyond “interview answers” to the truth
  • Strategies for gathering references that lead to more effective hires
  • The three questions you must be have clear answers to before hiring anyone

Lambert’s lessons comes from more than 20 years in the recruiting and staffing industry helping clients across diverse industries hire more effectively. This Sept. 10 webinar runs from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. The cost for AWB members is $49 and for non-members is $69. Contact Jennifer Davis at 800.521.9325 for more information.

Save the date for 2013 Manufacturing Summit — Oct. 25

Mark your calendars for the 2013 AWB Manufacturing Summit! This annual event includes our second-annual Manufacturing Excellence Awards, sponsored by UPS. Featured speakers include:

  • “Developing Local Relationships That Build Your Workforce,” moderated by Gary Chandler, AWB vice president, government affairs.
  • “Manufacturing Challenges and Opportunities in Washington,” moderated Jay Timmons, president and CEO of the National Manufacturers Association
  • The results of the McGladrey 2013 Monitor, presented by Wendy Sancewich

Contact Anne Haller at 800.521.9325 for more information or to learn about remaining sponsorship opportunities.

AWB offers simple 401(k) plan for members

Members can take advantage of an exciting retirement program – MyFuture 401(k) – an easier, more cost-effective plan for your company. Each adopting employer retains control of the vesting, eligibility requirements, matching contributions, profit sharing, and general plan design while decreasing the administrative burden and fiduciary liability. On-site education and enrollment services are provided to your employees by Integrity Financial, a local investment advisor, along with institutional grade investment options and professionally managed risk-based portfolios. For more information, please contact AWB at 1.800.521.9325 or visit


“Yes, we live in as close to summertime meteorological nirvana as is available on this planet, a fact the Seattle Chamber of Commerce should use to our great advantage in the tourist trade.” ~ U.W. Meteorologist Cliff Mass, explaining a recent rating that listed Seattle as the number one city in the U.S. for pleasant summer weather.

This Week's President's Perspective: Weighing Washington's High Cost of Doing Business

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