October 31, 2016
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Manufacturing Summit focused on trade, how it impacts economy and jobs today and in the future

The annual Manufacturing Summit, highlighting trade and how the state’s manufacturing sector is a key component to it, wrapped up last week. Sponsored by RSM and presented, in part, by media partner Puget Sound Business Journal, the event kicked off with RSM’s Wendy Sancewich presenting the Monitor Report results that outline the health and future of manufacturing. Of note from the report is that today there are 370,000 job openings in manufacturing in the U.S., the highest number since before we came out of the Great Recession.

That means a trained and well-prepared workforce is needed today and in the future. This is a point The Wall Street Journal hit on, explaining that while employees are filling growing service-sector jobs, manufacturing employees and productivity are declining. That was part of the the focus of the first panel that featured students and teachers discussing their work from building and racing eco-cars to building robots that compete internationally that is encouraging young adults to consider a job in the manufacturing sector.

One alumni of the all-female Granite Falls High School Eco-Car Program told attendees “not only did I want to go into manufacturing” after being part of the program, “but I want to teach career and technical education because I see what it has done for me and many other students.”

The “Manufacturing Through the Decades” panel featured two very different century-old businesses – Boeing and Rite in the Rain – and a heavy machine operation and a craft beer brewer. While their size may be different, their struggles are the same: Finding qualified and talented employees and tax and regulatory burdens placed on employers.

Jack Lamb, owner of Aslan Brewery in Bellingham, explained that while he has a small operation, his company is taxed $7 per barrel of beer, nearly the same as the large, international breweries. He said he believes his product should be taxed, but it should be taxed in a way that reflects the size, not the product.

Introduced by U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen, U.S. Export-Import (Ex-Im) Bank Chairman Fred Hochberg rounded out the day’s speakers with a keynote address on the importance of the Ex-Im Bank and its role in helping small and large manufacturers export goods around the world.

“Washington is third in the United States for exports. The two states ahead of you, California and Texas, are far larger that you,” Hochberg explained.

And, while the bank’s charter was finally extended last year, with help from AWB and Washington state’s congressional delegation, he noted that Congress has yet to appoint the last member of the bank’s board, leaving it without a quorum. This, he said, has caused the bank to forego assisting many small businesses that need it the most.

AWB received the Ex-Im Bank’s Chairman’s Award earlier this year for its multi-pronged, multi-media efforts at the state and federal level to renew the bank’s charter.

The day finished with media partner Puget Sound Business Journal Publisher Emory Thomas assisting with the presentation of five Manufacturing Excellence Awards.

Photos from Manufacturing Summit are online.

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Focus on Sustainability

Delivering the Future: How UPS Is Pursuing the Possibility of Sustainable E-Commerce

By Jim Bruce, senior vice president, UPS

At UPS, ours is anticipating the direction of e-commerce and staying ahead of it, because we believe that e-commerce will profoundly impact the development of our cities, lifestyles and business.

The question is whether e-commerce will improve or diminish global sustainability. We think it can go either way but are optimistic about the possibility of real improvement. Which way it goes depends on a number of factors: 1) Can we create a sustainable global delivery network? 2) Will people rely on that network enough to lessen reliance on personal vehicles and to increasingly live in decongested, pedestrian-friendly cities? And 3) Will cities begin to view e-commerce as essential to their sustainable future? Truly, a "yes" to these three questions would be transformative to our cities and global carbon-reduction efforts...

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They had a good laugh over it, the reports said. What a knee-slapper. Candidates for the United States Congress, at a recent climate change forum at a Ballard brewpub, indicated through their mistaken answers to a simple question that neither has any idea where electricity comes from. What a hoot...

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Of course, you don't get rid of such assets. You don't speak of it, even in jest.

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