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Association of Washington Business – Updated Weekly


2023 09 18 PS

The Policy Summit starts Tuesday evening: See you in Spokane!

It's here: The 2023 AWB Policy Summit kicks off Tuesday evening at the Davenport Grand Hotel in Spokane. On Wednesday, attendees will learn about a wide variety of policy issues facing Washington businesses: artificial intelligence, child care, energy, housing, taxation, the 2024 elections and more. See the full agenda.

Women's leadership discussion: The Women's Leadership Roundtable is at 5 p.m. Tuesday. Michelle Hege of DH, Leslie Druffel of The McGregor Co., and Maren Calvert of Schwabe will lead the discussion on women's leadership lessons and challenges. RSVP here.

Dinner keynote tickets available: Online ticket sales have closed, but you can still buy tickets at the door. You can also purchase dinner-only tickets for the Wednesday keynote dinner speech by former U.S. Secretary of Defense Dr. Robert M. Gates.

2023 09 18 Childcare

Seattle Times op-ed: We must meet the challenge of saving child care

First five years: Science shows that 90% of brain growth occurs in a child's first five years, and that rich learning environments help young brains grow. Washington's child care providers must be able to provide high-quality care that prepares children for school and life, attracts and retains skilled teachers, and is economically viable, as detailed in a new joint op-ed in The Seattle Times.

  • The authors include Alex Galeana, executive director of Children's Campaign Fund Action; Ruth Kagi, a former state representative for the 32nd District; and Amy Anderson, AWB government affairs director.

Statewide problem: The AWB Institute and the Children’s Campaign Fund Action took a bus tour around the state this summer to learn about the challenges faced by child care providers and families.

  • "The overwhelming message that we heard in all four corners of the state is that child care is in crisis," the authors wrote. "Child care providers cannot afford to pay enough to attract and retain teachers, parents cannot afford to pay more than the already high cost of child care, and businesses cannot hire and retain employees who are unable to find or keep child care."

Solutions: The state is working on an implementation plan to expand access to Washington's child care system by June 2025, the op-ed notes. The system provides a rich mix of choices for parents, including family child care homes, child care centers operated by private and public providers, public and private preschools, and family, friend and neighbor care.

09 11 2023 WLR Final

Washington's Job Skills Program turns 40

Worker training: This week, the state's Job Skills Program, which provides dollar-for-dollar matching grants to train employees, celebrates 40 years. More than 1,000 employers and 75,000 employees have taken advantage of the program, which helps workers stay up-to-speed on skills and boosts profitability.

How it works: Employers work with a local community or technical college, public and nonprofit universities, and licensed private career schools to train new employees and retrain or upgrade current employees. Training takes place at work or in a classroom.

  • "The program is an invaluable tool for employees, employers and Washington state, supporting people and businesses in new and emerging industries, upgrading employee skills and in communities struggling with high unemployment,” said Paul Francis, executive director of the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges, which oversees the program.

Manufacturers benefit: Between July 2021 and September 2022, most of the grants -- 64% -- went to the manufacturing industry, including companies in aerospace, wood and paper products, electronics and high-tech, composites and marine. Small businesses with 100 or fewer employees received 60% of grants.

Learn more: Visit to learn how employers can participate in Washington's Job Skills Program.

2023 09 18 Gig Harbor Chamber

Gig Harbor Chamber of Commerce honored for advocacy

Grassroots advocacy: The Gig Harbor Chamber of Commerce has been named AWB Grassroots Alliance Advocate of the Year. The chamber, led by Miriam Battson, has demonstrated commitment to advocating for employers and keeping members informed of policies in Olympia.

  • “The Gig Harbor Chamber of Commerce is a champion for the economy and for its local community,” said Dru Garson, AWB director of strategic engagement, who presented the award at a chamber meeting earlier this month.

Busy chamber: The chamber participated in AWB's Legislative Day and Hill Climb in February, bringing members to Olympia to meet with lawmakers, and also organized its own Olympia Day. The chamber has also been active in workforce development and child care, and joined other chambers this legislative session to call on lawmakers to act on issues such as public safety and long-term care taxes.

First of two awards: AWB will present a second chamber advocate award later this year. Both chambers will be recognized during AWB’s Evening of Excellence awards program Nov. 16 in Seattle.

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Childcare Stabilization Act would continue Covid-era funding for childcare

Last week, U.S. Sens. Patty Murray, D-Wash, and Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, jointly introduced legislation to extend pandemic-era federal funds for child care providers. The American Rescue Plan included $24 billion to help 220,000 child care providers stay afloat during the pandemic, but the funding will run out on Sept. 30.

The senators proposed $16 billion each year for the next five years to continue the Child Care Stabilization Grant program. "This is an urgent economic priority at every level: child care is what allows parents to go to work, businesses to hire workers, and it’s an investment in our kids’ futures," Murray said.

When the funding expires, child care providers say they will likely have to serve fewer children, raise tuition for families, reduce wages for workers, or close their programs for good, according to a May report from the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions. More than 6,800 child care programs in Washington received stabilization grants.

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More Democrats lining up to be Washington’s next public lands commissioner

At least two more Democrats have jumped into the race to become the state's next commissioner of public lands. State. Sen. Rebecca Saldana of Seattle and Patrick DePoe, a member of the Makah Tribe and director of tribal relations for the Department of Natural Resources, both announced campaigns earlier this month. The Washington State Standard has a full report.

The job of managing Washington's public lands and forests has already drawn three other contenders: State Sen. Kevin Van De Wege of Port Angeles, former Sen. Mona Das of Kent, and Sue Kuehl Pederson, the only Republican candidate so far. King County Council Member Dave Upthegrove, a Democrat, is also considering a run.

The candidates are vying to replace current lands commissioner Hilary Franz, who is running for governor in 2024.

Data shows drop in multifamily home construction in Washington

Building permits for apartments and other multifamily housing in Washington dipped in the second quarter of the year, while single-family home permits increased.

There was a 7,000 drop in multifamily permits from 27,700 to 20,700 between April and June, the state Economic and Revenue Forecast Council said last week. Lawmakers passed nine bills this year to increase the supply of housing, such as allowing more duplexes and triplexes to be built and streamlining permitting.

“We haven’t seen a shift yet,” Josie Cummings, legislative director at the Building Industry Association of Washington, told the Washington State Standard. “It’s definitely not an overnight effect.”

Pasco WA irrigation canals may test producing hydropower

A demonstration project in Pasco is looking at whether irrigation water for crops could also be used to produce electricity. The Tri-City Herald has the full story

Emrgy of Atlanta, Georgia received a $1.6 million award from the Department of Energy to develop a turbine to generate hydropower at small dams where the water drop is less than 30 feet or in irrigation canals, the Herald reported. The company is working with the South Columbia Basin Irrigation District in Pasco to test and demonstrate the turbine.

Washington Board of Education approves new graduation pathway for workforce experience

Washington high school students will soon have more options to meet graduation requirements. Earlier this month, the state Board of Education approved new rules to allow students to graduate through completing a “performance-based learning experience,” such as professional skill-building, internships or community service.

The Legislature created the new graduation pathway this spring with House Bill 1308. The board also approved additional courses to meet graduation requirements, including AP European History, AP African American History, AP precalculus, and any IB course in computer science. Rules are expected to take effect in January 2024.

FedEx celebrates 50 years and 50th Boeing 777F aircraft

FedEx received its 50th 777F airplane from Boeing and commemorated the delivery with a ribbon-cutting ceremony in late August and a special fuselage sticker. The delivery coincided with FedEx celebrating 50 years of operation this year.

“It’s just a fantastic airplane for us,” said EVP & CEO of FedEx Express Scot Struminger during the ceremony. “It’s our international workhorse. We can get from Hong Kong to Memphis non-stop; we can get from Memphis to Dubai non-stop. It really helps our customers.”

Washington state awards $14.5M to aid all residents in getting internet access

The Washington State Department of Commerce has awarded $14.5 million to help more Washingtonians get online. The funds will go to three organizations to operate hotlines for appointments with digital navigators, provide internet-capable devices, and offer digital skills training.

This is the third year the Commerce Digital Navigator Program has issued grants to boost online access, GeekWire reported.

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2023 09 18 EOE

Join us for a night on the red carpet at the 2023 Evening of Excellence

Celebrating employers: Be the first to recognize the accomplishments of Washington's employers at the 2023 Evening of Excellence. The event is moving back to Seattle this year and will be on Nov. 16 at the Fairmont Olympic Hotel. We've announced the finalists for the 2023 Washington Excellence Awards and Manufacturing Excellence Awards and will announce the winners at the gala.

Live band: Musical entertainment will be provided by Good Co, which combines the era of flappers and speakeasies with the beats and the electric sounds of today's dance music. Check out a recent performance.

Stay in style: AWB has secured a room block at the Fairmont Olympic Hotel for the Evening of Excellence for the first time. It's the most convenient lodging option for those traveling from out of town for the event. The room block closes on Oct. 12.

Register now for the 2023 Evening of Excellence gala.  

2023 08 14 MFG Week

2023 Manufacturing Week Bus Tour kicks off in less than three weeks

Cities announced: AWB will be back on the road in October for our seventh-annual Manufacturing Week Bus Tour. We will visit manufacturers across the state as we work to raise awareness about the important role manufacturers play in our state's economy. While we're still finalizing our stops, we have announced our route:

  • Day 1 – Oct. 4: Olympia, Sumner and Ellensburg
  • Day 2 – Oct. 5: Spokane
  • Day 3 – Oct. 6: Tri-Cities and Yakima
  • Day 4 – Oct. 9: Bellingham and Anacortes
  • Day 5 – Oct. 10: Everett, Mukilteo, Bothell and Seattle
  • Day 6 – Oct. 11: Seattle, Bellevue, Tukwila and Tacoma

** Schedule is subject to change.

2023 08 28 MFG in classroom

New manufacturing resources available for teachers and students

Education on manufacturing: To help teachers connect students with the quality jobs available in advanced manufacturing, the AWB Institute has just published an array of resources on our new webpage, Manufacturing in the Classroom, which are aimed at supporting career pathways in manufacturing and better connecting classrooms to employers.

Relevant information: These resources include:

  • A teacher toolkit, complete with a list of how to get students excited about pursuing a career in manufacturing;
  • A video highlighting the high-tech nature of today’s modern manufacturing operations;
  • A Manufacturing Week one-page quick guide to help businesses understand how to incorporate education partners in local events and tours; and
  • A directory of past Manufacturing Week Spotlight videos which showcase employers across the state and can be utilized in the classroom to deepen understanding of the possible career opportunities in manufacturing.

With Manufacturing Week and national Manufacturing Day less than a month away, this will be a timely resource for teachers as the school year kicks off. Contact the AWB Institute’s Samantha Kinnard to learn more.

2023 09 18 Compwise

CompWise helps members improve safety, save money

CompWise member profile: DeWaard & Bode, an appliance store in Bellingham, is a member of AWB's CompWise Workers’ Comp Retro Program. “We want to take care of our employees," Kent McClelland, chief financial officer at DeWaard & Bode, said in video. "Having CompWise to be able to partner with us, to be able to teach us better policies and procedures, so we can save money for our company is a huge benefit for the employees and employer."

Cost savings: In 2022 alone, members enrolled in CompWise received workers' comp premium refunds totaling more than $10 million. Additionally, CompWise recouped another $1.5 million for employers through the Department of Labor & Industries’ Stay-at-Work program, which rewards employers for bringing injured employees back to work quickly and safely. Individual members have received refunds of 50% on their premiums and lower experience factors which means lower L&I rates.

How it works: Participating in CompWise helps you lower upfront premiums paid to L&I and provides an opportunity for you to qualify for refunds. There are four separate industry groups: manufacturing, service/retail/wholesale, hospitality/entertainment, and facilities/property management. The program offers safety services to help you prevent workplace injuries and effective claims management in the event claims do occur. CompWise can also act as your advocate for L&I issues and assist in many other areas.

Deadline for next quarter’s enrollment: If you are not already enrolled, the deadline for new employers is Sept. 30, for a start date of Oct. 1. To find out if you qualify, and for a no-obligation proposal, please contact Sarah Craig at or visit

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Post of the week 20230918

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"I think some states will see harder landings than others over the next six months… Recessions are never uniform across industry sectors, demographic groups, or geographic areas." ~ Hart Hodges, co-director at Western Washington University’s Center for Economic and Business Research, about Washington's state softening job market. Employers added just 2,900 jobs in August, about a fifth of the hiring 12 months ago.
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