February 4, 2019
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Rural jobs bill would bring new investment to small towns

House Bill 1324
, prime-sponsored by Rep. Mike Chapman, D-Port Angeles, would create a new program to develop rural areas and opportunity zones, which are economically distressed communities.

Access to capital was identified as a significant challenge for rural communities at AWB’s Rural Jobs summits. HB 1324 is important legislation to implement one of the goals of AWB’s Rural Jobs Task Force.

The measure received a hearing Wednesday in the House Rural Development, Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee.

“I think this bill is a significant piece of legislation that will definitely help the rural economy throughout rural Washington, and it’s going to bring capital for investment,” Chapman told the committee members.

Here’s how it works: Investors would help finance Rural Development and Opportunity Zone Funds, whose management teams have been vetted and approved by the U.S. Small Business Administration or Department of Agriculture. Fund managers would be required to submit detailed business plans and follow other requirements.

Investors in the Rural Development and Opportunity Zone Fund would be eligible for tax credits to offset B&O taxes and insurance premium taxes.

The bill also provides several taxpayer protections, ties the incentives to results through performance measures, and requires the investment firms to carry the risk. The funds must stay invested in Washington state for at least six years, and the investments must generate more tax revenue than the program provides in credits.

The program would be overseen by the state Department of Commerce.

AWB News has a video report on the Rural Development and Opportunity Zone Act.

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Bridging the divide between Washington state and D.C.

By AWB President Kris Johnson

On a map, the distance from our Washington to the "other" Washington looks so far away. But, policies being made and debated there hit us here in Washington state.

Take trade policies, for example.

As one of the most trade-driven states in the nation, what happens with trade agreements has a direct impact on Washington state's economy.

A recent report found that Washington farmers and other export-dependent producers saw their foreign sales drop by as much as 28 percent during the six months after the United States began imposing tariffs on trading partners.

That's one reason why the Association of Washington Business and its members have become more engaged than ever on the national front. In fact, AWB staff and 25 business owners and leaders recently returned from the association's fifth D.C. Fly-in...

Read the full guest column in The Tri-Cities Area Journal of Business
Hydropower Is Crucial

The Snake River dams fill a power gap. Lawmakers need to know that

By The Tri-City Herald Editorial Board

Saying we don't need the four lower Snake River dams because they generate just a small percentage of the region's electricity is a bit like saying the Seattle Mariners don't need relief pitchers who are in the game for only an inning or two.

The dams, like a closing pitcher, are needed for their reliability and to fill in during critical times.

As lawmakers consider Gov. Jay Inslee's proposal to make Washington 100 percent carbon free, we hope they grasp the role hydropower plays in providing clean, renewable, low-cost power to the region

We also hope they come to understand the essential role the Snake River dams play in the power-generating system...

Read the full editorial in The Tri-City Herald
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