December 21, 2015
2015 Year in Review

From AWB President Kris Johnson: A Look Back at a Year of New Endeavors, Success and a Difficult Loss

This year was full of first-evers for AWB. We launched the first-ever AWB Institute Leadership Washington class, Local Chamber Grassroots Alliance, a collaboration between AWB and 52 chambers of commerce around the state to advocate for shared goals in the Legislature... and we saw a great result in the first-in-a-decade transportation reform and funding package. We were also dealt a difficult blow with the tragic loss of our incoming Board chair, Tom Fritz. Through it all, we have remained optimistic, resilient and determined, thanks to you, our great members and our staff.
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First-in-a-decade Transportation Reform and Revenue Package Approved

Three years of bipartisan work culminated in July with the passage of Washington's first transportation investment package in 10 years. The $16 billion transportation revenue and reform plan will invest in the roads and highways needed by both employers and commuters in every corner of the state. The cost-saving and accountability reforms included in the package went a long way to achieving strong bipartisan support.
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K-12, Higher Education and Early Learning have Record Year in State Budget

Once again, K-12 education funding was a primary conversation throughout the 2015 session, culminating with a budget that included the largest new K-12 investment in Washington state legislative history. The first-in-the-nation college tuition reduction and early learning investments were also part of the final budget agreement.
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Preparation on Climate Policy Pays Dividends, but More Work Ahead on Carbon Regulations, Water Quality

Preparation often pays dividends and this was certainly the case throughout the 2015 session with regard to environmental issues. AWB's efforts focused on a series of main themes around climate/energy policy, land use, water resources, toxics and water quality and realized record member participation in legislative hearings and engagement on the many environmental issues.
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Saying Goodbye to Tom Fritz, a Visionary Leader, Community Steward and Friend

Spokane and Washington lost a visionary leader this year with the unexpected passing of Tom Fritz. He had served as president and CEO of Inland Northwest Health Services and was set to be the AWB Board chair for 2016. His record of community service and mentorship was legendary in Eastern Washington.
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Opportunity Washington Launched to Highlight What it Takes to Create Statewide Shared Prosperity

Our work must start today if we hope to secure a promising future our children, Alaska Air CEO Brad Tilden told a full room during the launch of Opportunity Washington: Priorities for Shared Prosperity at the AWB Legislative Summit in January. Board Chair Mike Schwenk helped Tilden kick off this key effort. Opportunity Washington is a collaboration with WashACE to highlight key economic drivers: Achieve (education and workforce training), Connect (transportation) and Employ (policies that encourage job creation and retention).
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Statewide AWB - Local Chamber Grassroots Alliance Created, Takes Root with 52 Members

Thirty-eight chambers of commerce kicked off the AWB-Local Chamber Grassroots Alliance at the Legislative Summit in January. The group has grown to 52 chambers, all of which are working alongside AWB to bring authentic voices on key issues to the Legislature. The success of this new collaboration can be seen in the passage of the transportation revenue and reform package this year. Read more »

Successful Inaugural AWBI Leadership Washington Class Graduates, Second Begins

With a focus on preparing the next generation of business, state and community leaders, the AWB Institute kicked off and completed the first-ever Leadership Washington class with nine participants in 2015. Read more »

Ex-Im Bank Reauthorization a Key Victory in AWB's New, Focused Federal Efforts

With more than 200 Washington employers using the services of the federal Export-Import Bank, the agreement in Congress to reauthorize the bank's expired charter is a critical component to our state's economy. AWB and nearly two dozen member companies played a vital role in educating the state's congressional delegation on the importance of the bank to our trade-dependent state and urged them to support the reauthorizaion effort. Read more »

AWB's New Strategic Plan Set for Review, Approval by Board in January

The AWB Executive Committee met over the past several months to revamp AWB's Mission and Vision statements -- and the strategies for achieving them. It's not just a spruce-up-the-edges-a-little exercise, but a wholesale rewriting that will catapult the association onto the road to 2020.
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Record-setting Policy Summit Hosts Sold-out Crowd, Former Top Boeing and Ford Executive Alan Mulally

The space at Suncadia Resort in Cle Elum was barely enough room to host the sold-out Policy Summit this year. With new parallel track policy panels and speakers like renowned pollster John Zogby and former Boeing and Ford CEO Alan Mulally, it will be hard to top this year's line-up. Read more »

AWB Again Honored as One of Nation's Top Chambers of Commerce

For the second year in a row, AWB took home second place honors at the annual Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives (ACCE) Chamber of the Year awards ceremony in Montreal, Canada, Aug. 12. Read more »

Washington State, AWB Host NAM 'State of Manufacturing' Tour

In the only West Coast stop in the National Association of Manufacturers CEO Jay Timmons' State of Manufacturing tour, AWB President Kris Johnson led testimony before the Legislature and tours of Wagstaff, Inc., Spokane Community College and Spokane Valley Tech. Board Co-chair Michael Senske (pictured left) also testified before the Legislature. The message they sent to lawmakers and leaders: The state of manufacturing is resilient and robust.
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Looking to 2016: Legislative Day & Hill Climb, Spring Meeting with Gubernatorial Debate, and Policy Summit

We had a record year of attendance at our annual events -- Legislative Day, Spring Meeting, Policy Summit and Manufacturing Summit -- this year. And, next year will be even better. Legislative Day & Hill Climb is Jan. 19, our June Spring Meeting in Spokane will feature the gubernatorial debate, Policy Summit is sure to be interesting with the elections shortly afterward and the Manufacturing Summit will again show off why we need to keep the high-tech manufacturing firms in the state and provide them the next generation of skilled workforce. Read more »

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2015 in Videos

Legislative Summit

Opportunity Washington

State of Manufacturing tour

Leadership Washington Class of 2015

Spring Meeting

Regional Meetings

Remembering Tom Fritz

Policy Summit

Opportunity Score

Manufacturing Summit

Lighting of the Holiday Kids' Tree