November 6, 2017
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Newly formed AWB Rural Jobs Task Force created; Alex McGregor to serve as chair

Hundreds of people came to Moses Lake last month to discuss the many challenges and opportunities of rural Washington. The energy at AWB's second Rural Jobs Summit was high and interest was strong in working together to ensure that prosperity and opportunity are available in even the most rural parts of our state.

To help foster those solutions and move the issue forward as the next legislative session approaches, AWB is creating a Rural Jobs Task Force. In an email today, AWB Government Affairs Director Mike Ennis said that Alex McGregor has agreed to serve as chair of the new group.

McGregor, the president of The McGregor Co., kicked off last month's Rural Jobs Summit with a stirring talk on the idea that we can and must do better to ensure that rural Washington can thrive.

The task force will consist of AWB members who have taken part in either of this year's two summits, or anyone with an interest in rural issues.

"With an eye toward the upcoming Legislative Session, the group will review the issues and solutions raised and identify those that will be important to the business community in 2018," Ennis said. Topics such as the manufacturing tax credit and a legislative fix for the Hirst decision are likely to lead the list, based on discussions with attendees so far.

The first conference call to help set up the new Rural Jobs Task Force will be Monday, Nov. 13, at 1:30 p.m. Contact Connie Carlson for a call-in number.

The first meeting will be Nov. 20 in Moses Lake (with a time to be determined). The second meeting will be Dec. 12 at 10:30 a.m. in Olympia.

Contact Ennis to learn more.

And in related news, Opportunity Washington is looking for input and insights on ways to help bridge the urban-rural divide. Lend your voice to the conversation in this new Rural Jobs Survey.

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Manufacturing Week Tour

Manufacturing is huge in Washington. Let's celebrate -- and invest in it

By Kate Lampson and Kris Johnson

Manufacturing has a long history in Washington and it has a great story to tell: In Benton County, careers in manufacturing pay an average annual wage of $55,701, $50,575 in Walla Walla County and almost $41,000 in Franklin County. Not bad for jobs that often require no more than a trade certificate or a two-year degree. It also has a multiplier of three -- for every one job created in manufacturing, another three jobs are created elsewhere.

That's a good return on investment, but the sector faces some headwinds.

As manufacturing comes on a national resurgence, Washington's sector has lost about 48,000 jobs since 2000 -- the vast majority of which are non-aerospace jobs.

Clearly, more can be done to support good-paying manufacturing jobs here and across the state.

Read the full column in The Tri-City Herald
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