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Rural Jobs

2018 Legislative Objectives


Historically, Washington State’s rural areas have struggled to keep pace in many key economic measures like unemployment, job growth, labor force trends, median wages, and home prices, when compared with urban centers around the Puget Sound, Vancouver, and Spokane regions. Our state relies heavily upon its vital natural resources. Farms, forests and fisheries—together, the largest employers in Washington—and the rural communities that adjoin them have struggled in the past several years as urban economies have flourished.

In 2017, AWB hosted two summits on rural jobs and heard from employers, state legislators and agency officials, local governments including city, county, and port officials, chambers of commerce and economic development organizations. Members spoke out in favor of improving the economic prosperity in the rural areas.

AWB recognizes the value of rural areas, and that the rural economy is an important and significant component of the state’s overall strength. AWB recognizes the policy issues found in the rural areas are diverse and represent broad perspectives, requiring a wide net, collaboration with employers, rural communities, and stakeholders. These areas include economically sustainable agriculture and forests, regulatory reform, recreational opportunities, infrastructure and public facilities, workforce/housing, water availability, environmental stewardship, tourism, and natural resource management.

AWB members will work toward the following legislative objectives for the upcoming legislative session.


  • Improve job creation, retention, and workforce development in the rural areas. Support development of policies with flexibility to customize policies to fit the needs of different communities.

  • Help rural businesses prosper and expand by lowering the B&O rate for manufacturing as adopted by the legislature but vetoed by the Governor in 2017.

  • Support rural development and adopt a permanent legislative fix to the Supreme Court’s Hirst water decision.

  • Support infrastructure improvements throughout the state. Protect, preserve, and promote access to essential public facilities for rural development including all local infrastructure, water availability, and access to ports that support Washington’s trade-based and rural economies. Provide greater certainty in permitting and environmental reviews. Improve access to financial capital in the rural areas. Protect commitments from the 2015 Connecting Washington revenue package; keep projects funded and on schedule.

  • Support expanding and improving internet connectivity (broadband) in rural, unserved areas.

For More Information

For questions, please contact AWB’s Mike Ennis at 1.800.521.9325 or

PDF Version of this Legislative Objective