|October 14, 2019|
AWB’s custom-wrapped tour bus covered all regions of the state over nearly 2,500 miles and seven days. The mission was to raise awareness of the state’s incredible manufacturing sector, which produces about 12 percent of the state’s total economic output and employs nearly 288,000 people.
The tour kicked off Oct. 2 in Vancouver, before heading north, taking a weekend break, and resuming in Ferndale on Monday, Oct. 7.
The week began with a visit to Alcoa’s Intalco Works, the only aluminum smelter on the West Coast. The company invented the aluminum smelting process in 1888, and employs more than 700 people creating some of the most important raw ingredients for the modern economy.
AWB leaders also connected with the Phillips 66 Ferndale Refinery, where much of the gasoline and diesel used in the Pacific Northwest is refined. Other stops that day included Broadcast Tools, which makes great products for broadcast radio customers, and Everett Community College’s Advanced Manufacturing Training & Education Center. Stops also included Fluid Motion, the largest boat builder on the West Coast, and Icicle Brewing in Leavenworth. A complete wrap-up of Day 4, including video shorts, is located here on AWB’s Olympia Business Watch Blog.
Day 5 kicked off at the Port of Chelan in Cashmere, where community leaders have established a thriving business center on the site of a former mill. AWB’s group connected with Hurst International, which produces on-demand labels for the fruit industry.
Later, U.S. Rep. Kim Schrier, D-Wash., joined the tour in Wenatchee. She and the AWB delegation visited Stemilt Growers’ cherry processing center. This stop showed a glimpse of Washington’s massive ag exports. The Stemilt facility can process 2,600 tons of cherries per week during the harvest season. These cherries, of course, are transported to happy customers throughout the U.S. and internationally.
The tour also stopped at Hewes Marine and Vaagen Timbers in Colville, two family businesses that make all-welded aluminum boats, and cross-laminated timber, respectively. Day 5 ended with a roundtable discussion with manufacturing CEOs in Spokane. Check out complete Day 5 coverage here.
Day 6 began with an early season snowstorm in the Spokane Valley. The power was still on at Wagstaff, Inc., where the family-owned company has made direct mold casts for industry for the past 70 years. Other stops included the Composite Materials and Engineering Center at Washington State University, where researchers are working to develop stronger and more energy efficient building materials for a wide variety of industries.
The bus headed south into The Palouse for a stop at Renaissance Marine Group in Clarkston, where 125 employees produce 60 models of heavy-gauge aluminum boats.
The day finished at Pomeroy Grain Growers in Central Ferry as the sun moved low along the gorgeous Snake River. Pomeroy Grain is a farmer-owned cooperative, and AWB got a look at this year’s wheat crop: 4.4 million bushels of wheat at this location alone. This wheat will be moved by barge along the Snake River, to Portland and international customers in Japan and around the world. Check out the complete Day 6 coverage here.
On Thursday, Day 7 began with a visit to Cascade Natural Gas in Kennewick to highlight the importance of reliable natural gas for the state economy. The tour continued to UniWest in Pasco, a leading sensing technology equipment producer. Other stops included Plastic Injection Molding in Richland, a family firm that makes quality parts for companies all over the U.S.
The two final tour stops were focused on agriculture: Barnard Griffin Winery in Richland, and Yakima Chief Hops in Sunnyside, a grower-owned network of family hops farms. The Day 7 video wrap-up is here, and the blog roundup is here.
“We’re grateful at AWB to represent so many amazing Washington employers,” AWB President Kris Johnson said. “This year’s tour was our best yet. It clearly showed that manufacturing is strong in Washington. And we really enjoyed connecting with so many of our members in person, and learning about their successes and challenges.”
Visit www.awb.org to learn more about manufacturing in Washington.
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