On the Road With Rich

Thursday, August 29

New Connections

By Rich Hadley, coordinator, AWB Grassroots Alliance 

RICHLAND – If you’ve ever paid taxes, driven on the Interstate or tried to sell a wheat crop overseas, chances are the U.S. government has made a big impact on your life and your business.

And if you’re like me, there was probably a time or two when you wanted to tell our elected officials how their actions impacted the business leaders, manufacturers and family farms that make Washington work.

Nearly half of our congressional delegation came to AWB’s Federal Affairs Summit in the Tri-Cities earlier this month, to speak with dozens of employers from all over the state.

And just as importantly, I saw these representatives and a senator chat with our members, pose for pictures and have good conversations throughout the day. Pacific Northwest National Laboratory was a great location, with outstanding facilities that served as a good reminder of the importance of federal investments in our state. Lab Director Steven Ashby was a welcoming host.

The event kicked off the evening before with a really nice reception at the Ste. Michelle Wine Estates WSU Wine Science Center.

U.S. Reps. Dan Newhouse and Kim Schrier stopped by to say hello, and mingle. They both spoke the next day at the main event.

On Tuesday, U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell acknowledged the good work of AWB, and emphasized a lot of the same priorities for our Grassroots Alliance – housing, international trade, and better skills for a changing workforce.

We also heard from U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer, who talked about bipartisanship with Newhouse, and U.S. Rep. Suzan DelBene, who advocates for Washington through her work on the House Ways and Means Committee.

All of this is a genuine show of respect for Washington employers. Our delegation came to speak, but also to listen and take questions from the audience, which is kind of a rare thing these days. And it’s clear that AWB is trusted as a good information source.

The format of the event worked too. Since AWB scheduled this over the August recess, this gave everybody involved a lot more time to relax and have a genuine conversation.

It was the first Federal Affairs Summit for Colin Hastings, executive director of the Pasco Chamber of Commerce.

“I thought it was excellent, having the opportunity to have discussions with our congressional leaders, especially those that are from different parts of the state,” Hastings said. “I think it created value for sharing ideas as well as promoting what we have to offer from our little corner of the state.”

I also enjoyed talking about the summit with Todd Mielke and Cara Coon from Greater Spokane Inc. on the ride home.

That’s what makes AWB’s Federal Affairs Summit so useful. It’s within driving distance for just about everybody in the state, and the schedule is so much easier for everyone involved. It’s a great opportunity for any chamber of commerce to connect.

I’ve been to a lot of jam-packed visits to Washington, D.C. in my career, and most of the time you’re lucky if you get 15 minutes with an elected official. The whole format is different.

I still think it’s useful for Washington employers to visit the nation’s capital and connect with our delegation there, too.

But remember, this is a long game. It’s crucial for Washington’s employer community to stay involved and show support for the issues that matter to us, over an extended period of time. So, let’s keep showing up, and speaking up, here at home and in the nation’s capital.

Congratulations, Dru Garson

I also want to thank Dru Garson for everything he’s done to support the Grays Harbor community and Washington employers over the years. Dru is the CEO of the Greater Grays Harbor Chamber of Commerce, and AWB President Kris Johnson went to Aberdeen recently to give him the Advocate of the Year Award.

Dru’s been a regular at legislative hearings in Olympia, and other AWB events, speaking up for the people he represents. He takes his work seriously and I just wanted to say how grateful I am to count him in the Grassroots Alliance.

New Map

We’ve also put together a new map that shows all of the Grassroots Alliance partners throughout Washington. It really shows how broad our network is. Be sure and check it out. If you have questions, just contact Andrew Lenderman at AndyL@awb.org.

In closing, I look forward to seeing many of you at the Washington Chamber of Commerce Executives leadership conference in Anacortes next month. You can check out the agenda and register here.

Feel free to reach out anytime by email at richhadley@comcast.net.

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