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Association of Washington Business – Updated Weekly




AWB honors Washington’s top employers

AWB presented its top awards to 13 employers Thursday at the annual Evening of Excellence during a gala ceremony at the Greater Tacoma Convention Center.

The event, sponsored by Banner Bank, celebrated Washington’s innovative employer community and the many ways private-sector employers contribute to the quality of life.

“It is our distinct privilege to honor employers who are helping make Washington an incredible place to work, live and raise a family,” said AWB President Kris Johnson, who emceed the event. “Through these awards, we are celebrating their successes and thanking them for their contributions to the economy and our communities.”

Nine Washington Excellence Awards and four Manufacturing Excellence Awards were presented. Approximately 250 companies were nominated for awards. A panel of judges chose the finalists and winners.

Find a complete list of the winners and finalists at AWB News, or take a social media tour of the event.



Op-ed: Remove the barriers to building more affordable housing in WA

While Washington’s population has grown by 60% over the last three decades, the number of housing units has only increased by 33%. The market has gotten so tight that the median housing price has nearly tripled in the past decade.

Writing in The Seattle Times, Building Industry Association of Washington Executive Vice President Greg Lane called for removing the barriers to building more affordable housing in the state.

“Builders in Washington, including those building low-income and subsidized housing, have, since the state introduced the Growth Management Act in the 1990s, been forced to navigate a labyrinth of regulations, artificially driving up costs and creating processes specifically designed to limit housing construction, not ‘manage’ it,” Lane wrote. “The consequences of these shortsighted public policies? A severe shortage of housing with no end in sight.”

Restrictive and inflexible zoning accounts for an average of $71,000 of the cost of a newly constructed home statewide — and it’s much higher in central Puget Sound, he notes.

Lt. Gov. Denny Heck spoke about the housing situation at AWB’s Workforce Summit this year. This month he covered some of the same points in an interview with The Urbanist.

He called for permitting reform, noting a recent study that finds the greater Seattle area is the fourth-most regulated when it comes to permitting.

“We need zoning reform, we need permitting reform, we need to make sure we have available land on which to build, we need to be paying attention to the available supply of labor,” Heck said.

Contact Government Affairs Director Mike Ennis to learn more and get involved.



State tax revenue on track to climb by $1.4 billion over expectations

Even taking into account a potential recession, Washington state tax collections will likely come in $1.4 billion higher over the next three years than previously forecast. That was the news last week from the Washington Economic and Revenue Forecast Council, which lays out the numbers upon which the Legislature writes its annual budget.

Tax revenues for the current two-year budget cycle (2021-23) are projected to come in $762 million above previous expectations. The state is also forecast to collect about $681 million more than anticipated for the next budget cycle (2023-2025), for which the Legislature will craft a budget starting in January.

Rep. Timm Ormsby, D-Spokane, the lead budget-writer in the House and a member of the forecast council, responded to the revenue forecast with a list of spending priorities.

“Statewide we need to invest in and support our workforce so that we can provide healthcare, behavioral health, long-term and disability care to ensure families aren’t left without critical services,” Ormsby said. “We must ensure financial support to address significant housing and homelessness needs. There is a lot of work to be done.”

Meanwhile, Rep. Ed Orcutt, R-Kalama, who is also a member of the forecast council, pointed to rising inflation and rising property taxes as a reason to give back some tax dollars to taxpayers.

“Somewhere in here we have got to figure out some sort of tax relief,” Orcutt said, “because we’ve got a lot of people suffering out there.”

Contact Government Affairs Director Tommy Gantz to learn more about tax and fiscal policy.



Help certify and train the workers of tomorrow by filling out employer survey

We know that workforce development is a major concern for virtually every employer in the state. There simply are not enough skilled, trained and educated workers to fill every job opening. That’s why it’s so important that we help train the next generation of the workforce.

For many jobs, this will require some kind of industry-specific certification rather than a two-year or four-year degree.

You can help address the workforce shortage by letting us know what it takes to get hired in your industry. Please take a few minutes to answer this survey about the non-degree credentials that are helpful — or required — in your workplace.

The AWB Institute is working in partnership with the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction to compile the information into a resource that will guide program development, evaluation for equity and improved outcomes for students.

Feel free to share this survey with others who can help provide insight into this important issue:

Contact the AWB Institute’s Thomas Gill with any questions.




National railroad strike appears more likely as major union rejects deal brokered by White House

This morning the nation's largest rail union voted against a labor deal, raising the prospect of a strike going into the Christmas season.

The SMART Transportation Division, the union that represents 28,000 rail conductors, narrowly voted down the agreement that had been brokered by the Biden White House. A strike could happen as early as Dec. 9 if the two sides don’t reach an agreement. A long-lasting strike could tip the country into a recession, according to the American Chemistry Council, one of many industry groups sounding the alarm about the possibility. Axios has more on this developing story.




Lend your voice to the UTC natural gas decarbonization survey

The Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC) is conducting a study to examine the cost and reliability impacts of removing natural gas as an energy source for consumers and businesses. Natural gas is a vital part of the energy supply chain and directly powers many businesses. Please take the time to complete the survey.

This study is part of a larger report to the Legislature on the grid impact on various decarbonization pathways for the state. With the recent decision by the State Building Code Council to ban natural gas in new commercial and residential buildings, this discussion has taken on a new importance. It is critical that the UTC hear from businesses about their concerns regarding cost and reliability.

Some thoughts for consideration as you take the survey:

  • Washington needs an affordable and reliable source of energy. Natural gas remains much more cost-effective than electricity and works even in inclement weather.
  • There is no one-size-fits-all energy policy for our state. Different regions have different weather conditions and climates. Local businesses and consumers are best suited to make the decision about what energy source best meets their needs.
  • The more diverse our grid is, the more resilient it remains. As we adjust to a changing climate, it is important that we keep all options on the table to ensure that Washington consumers and businesses have the flexibility to adapt. Prematurely removing an entire energy source limits the ability of the state to adapt.

Contact AWB’s Peter Godlewski with any questions.


House Republicans select leadership team, re-select J.T. Wilcox as caucus leader

State Rep. J.T. Wilcox, R-Yelm, will again serve as House minority leader after a vote last week in Spokane by the House Republican caucus. They also chose these legislators to fill out the House GOP leadership team:

  • Deputy Leader: Rep. Joel Kretz, R-Wauconda
  • Caucus Chair: Rep. Paul Harris, R-Vancouver
  • Whip: Rep. Dan Griffey, R-Allyn
  • Floor Leader: Rep. Jacquelin Maycumber, R-Republic
  • Assistant Floor Leader: Rep. Chris Corry, R-Yakima
  • Assistant Floor Leader: Rep. Peter Abbarno, R-Centralia.


Washington Business magazine highlight: Workforce training synergy in the Tri-Cities

Tyson Foods is working with Walla Walla Community College for job skills training, thanks to a grant from the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges.

Students get a state-recognized certificate from an accredited community college and the company gets trained workers. Read the full story in the latest edition of Washington Business magazine.





Holiday Kids’ Tree Project seeks donations for families in need

As inflation takes a toll on family budgets, AWB’s Holiday Kids’ Tree project is ready to make the holiday season better for rural families in need.

In recent years record-breaking donations from members like you helped rural fire districts in more than a dozen counties provide hundreds of families with food, toys and household necessities. Similar aid is needed this year.

Grays Harbor Fire District No. 1 in Oakville reports, “We on the front line get to see how special this is to our community, both to the children and their parents that struggle and lose sleep worrying about how to provide Christmas for their children. Thank you AWB and all those who donated. You all ran the Grinch out of our community!”

As you set your budget for this next year, consider setting up monthly installments or donating now toward this hope-filled effort. Tax-deductible sponsorships are appreciated at any level and participation is highlighted proudly year-round on our contributors’ webpage.

For more information, please contact Bonnie Millikan at 360.943.1600. DONATE TODAY.



Save the date: 2023 Legislative Day and Hill Climb

Registration is now open for AWB’s Legislative Day and Hill Climb, coming up Feb. 1.

The event includes both in-person and virtual options. AWB will coordinate 15-minute Zoom meetings with legislators as availability allows. You may also register for in-person lunch discussions and the evening legislative networking reception. Register now!



HSB Total Cyber™ - Comprehensive coverage for six cyber pervasive threats

Is your company protected against cyber attacks? ProPoint, AWB’s employer services arm, is helping offer comprehensive, affordable solutions for your business.

Cyber criminals target businesses of all types – from freelancers and gig workers to small and mid-size firms. Just one cyber attack can wreak havoc on a company’s people, customers, reputation and bottom line. Going without cyber coverage is a real risk.

AWB is working with HSB to offer Total Cyber - Comprehensive coverage for six cyber pervasive threats

  • Data Breach - When sensitive information is exposed or stolen, businesses must respond.
  • Fraud - Cyber criminals target businesses of all sizes to deceive and profit.
  • Computer Attack - Hackers target business systems to exploit any weaknesses.
  • Cyber Liability - The threat of legal action against a business due to a cyber event is real.
  • Identity Theft - Identity theft victims can spend months and thousands of dollars to regain control of their identity records.
  • System Failure - Software updates and other system changes don’t always go as planned, resulting in loss of income.

HSB Total Cyber insurance provides comprehensive cyber coverage, risk management expertise and 24/7 cyber response services needed to help prevent – or recover from - today’s cyber threats.

For more information contact Helen Siggins at







“Somewhere in here we have got to figure out some sort of tax relief. Because we’ve got a lot of people suffering out there.” ~ Rep. Ed Orcutt, R-Kalama, responding to a forecast showing the state projected to receive more tax revenue than expected. He pointed to rising inflation and rising property taxes as a reason to give some of that windfall back to taxpayers.
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