Manufacturers say B&O tax relief would boost R&D
Finding qualified workers is a major challenge for Washington employers, panelists said Tuesday during a manufacturing panel discussion hosted by AWB.
The panel, part of AWB's 2018 Legislative Day and Hill Climb event, included employers from around the state who have travelled to Olympia to share their views with lawmakers on how to keep Washington's economy competitive and strong.
Tracy Wilson of DeWils Industries in Vancouver said the average factory wage at his company is $50,000 to $60,000 a year. Yet, a lack of qualified workers has hindered growth.
"So, these are good paying factory jobs, under good working conditions, and we still cannot get enough people," Wilson said.
David Rankin, of Rankin Equipment Co. in Yakima, agreed.
"Probably our biggest challenge is workforce," Rankin said.
Michael Senske of Pearson Packaging Systems in Spokane said there is not a very steady stream of employees with advanced manufacturing skills, so the company identifies talent and trains them internally.
"It’s extra expense and time," Senske said.
The manufacturing panel built on another AWB panel earlier in the day that focused, in part, on improving the public school system to better connect students with real world skills that match the jobs that companies have open right now.
Education panelists discussed that not all students are matched with getting a four-year college degree, and could succeed with better vocational training.
The manufacturing panel also discussed the business and occupation tax relief that was approved last year but vetoed by the governor. The B & O tax relief remains a major legislative goal of AWB this year.
Gary Chandler, AWB’s vice president for government affairs and the panel moderator, asked the group what their companies would do with the savings from B & O tax relief.
Rankin mentioned training as one area his company would invest in.
"The success of our company depends on our people," Rankin said. "Leadership skills are vital, and we need to continually invest in our employees."
Senske said the vast majority of any potential savings would go into research and development and workforce development.
The panel concluded with a viewing of a new video that AWB debuted today calling on lawmakers to reinstate the B&O tax relief this year.
“I think one of the things that has been answered here today is where that money is going to go, is investing back in the business, investing back in the employees,” said Chandler.