Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Wanted: University Place City Council Applicants

Ready to go from University Place involved citizen/stakeholder/business owner to local public official? Now's your chance!

For those interested, the City of University Place is currently seeking an applicant to fill the City Council vacancy of Position #7. Just make sure and toss your hat into the ring before noon, Friday, January 8, 2010, the application due date.

Application materials and more information can be found at the City of University Place website.

New Legislative Session

The Washington State Legislature will begin its session on January 11, 2010. This session will be short (60-days) and will focus on trying to overhaul the biennium budget, which currently has a $2.6 billion hole.

At this point, legislators are attempting to find solutions to filling the gap through cuts or new taxes, or a combination of both. While no immediate solutions have garnered support, it can be safe to assume that all are hoping for a recovered economy to help improve the proceedings in Olympia next year and especially when the legislature meets in 2011 to determine its next 2-year budget.

Until then, the legislators will be pondering how to devise a budget that makes steep cuts in health care, human services and education without impacting the users of those services. The alternative to those sharp cuts would be raising revenue through taxes, an action no elected official wants to take during an election year. It is most likely that a combination of those two approaches will be taken.

The Chamber will be working in Olympia to monitor and fend off tax increases that would harm or hinder businesses and job creation. The Chamber will also be conducting its annual “lunch with legislators” sometime in February. If you wish to attend, please go on-line later in January to register at www.tacomachamber.org.

Friday, December 18, 2009

US Rep. Dicks Cleared of False Allegations

The Office of Congressional Ethics has dropped its investigation into U.S. Representative Norm Dicks and other congressional members concerning alleged misconduct with the defunct lobbying firm PMA Group.

The OCE determined the allegations -- that the lobbying firm had influenced members of Congress to earmark specific defense contracts in exchange for campaign contributions or other items of value -- should be dismissed.

More details on this story are available at the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call.


Thursday, December 17, 2009

Decision 2010: Tacoma School Levies

Supporters of the levies for the Tacoma School District met with the Chamber's Public Affairs Council to discuss the need for replacing the school district's expiring levy and an additional levy for school facility improvements and upgrades.

The levies will appear on the February 9, 2010 ballot where they will each need one vote over 50 percent of the total vote to pass.

Mayor-elect Marilyn Strickland led off the discussion at the Chamber group's monthly meeting by providing an overview of the package and making the case that "education is a priority in this city." She was followed by representatives from the school district who provided details about the levies and the financial impacts upon homeowners in the district.

The Replacement Levy (Proposition 1) accounts for 22 percent of the district's overall budget for day-to-day operations and education programs, while the School Facilities Improvement Levy will "renovate or replace three schools and make district-wide school facility improvements. More information on the levies can be found at www.tacomaschools.org or by contacting Dan Voelpel, who recently joined the school district's Public Information Office, at (253) 571-1015.

The Chamber's Public Affairs Council is considering a position on both of the levies. More information about the Chamber's position on these levies can be found soon at this blog.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Tacoma Voids Tax Clawback

The current economic challenges have forced many local businesses into layoffs that they'd rather avoid.

This is especially true of local businesses that were beneficiaries of the B&O tax offset incentive for hiring of new, family-wage jobs. Some of these businesses were surprised with a cautionary letter from the Tacoma Tax & License office that they would owe the City of Tacoma refunds of these tax offset incentives if the enumerated employees were let go.

The Chamber and EDB brought this hardship on local businesses to the attention of the Tacoma City Council. Councilmembers agreed and developed a repeal of the "clawback" provisions. The effective city legislation, Ordinance 27862, was adopted last night: 8 for yes to 0 (1 vacant) opposed.

Our thanks to the Tacoma City Council for having the vision to incentivize employment growth and to recognize necessary action to support business retention during this challenging economy.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

WA Unemployment Comp Rises

Employment Security says unemployment insurance tax rates will rise in 2010 for many employers.

Last week, the Employment Security Department began mailing 2010 tax-rate notices to more than 150,000 Washington businesses. The average tax rate in 2010 will be 2.38 percent, up from 1.55 percent in 2009. The 2010 tax rates will range from 0.95 percent to 6 percent.

WashACE reported late last year on all the labor costs in Washington State.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

PCEI Broadcast Times and Channels


TV Tacoma is carried on both the Click! Cable TV and Comcast Cable systems.

On Click! TV Tacoma can be seen on Channel 12 in the Tacoma City Limits And in Pierce County, with the exception of University Place, where it is found on Channel 21.

On Comcast, TV Tacoma can be seen on Channel 12 in the Tacoma City limits and on Channel 21 in Pierce County. It is NOT carried on the Comcast system in University Place.

TV Tacoma is also streamed on the Internet at http://www.tvtacoma.com/.

Optimists or Fatalists

The attendees at the 23rd Horizons economic forecast breakfast, in addition to learning the updates on expected moves in the economy, had the opportunity to share their personal expectations on the economy.

Three questions were asked on a survey offered to everyone. And, about 60 (not everyone answered every question) returned their surveys. In general terms, respondents tended to be optimistic about the future, expecting either better ahead or at least more of the same. Those expecting worse were in the definite minority.

The results:

1. Do you feel that your company's economic fortunes will be better in 2010? For "better", 44.8%, for "same", 41.4% and for "worse", 13.8%.

2. Do you believe your company will have more or less employees in 2010? For "better", 20%, for "same", 56.7% and for "worse", 23.3%.

3. Do you believe your personal economic situation will be better in 2010? For "better", 40.7%, for "same", 40.7% and for "worse", 18.6%.

PCEI Report: Is Your Glass Half-full or Half-empty?

The 2009-2010 Pierce County Economic Index (PCEI) was presented today by Drs. Doug Goodman and Bruce Mann, University of Puget Sound, at the Horizons 2010 economic forecast event of the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber.

PCEI EXECUTIVE SUMMARY:

The Pierce County economy did withstand some of the negative effects from the national recession for much of 2008. But growth did slow. Pierce County’s slower growth was significantly better than the national experience principally due to Pierce County’s military and health care sectors.

The slowing Pierce County economy in late 2008 indicated more problems on the horizon. The Pierce County slowdown became a recession in 2009. Economic activity in Pierce County will continue downward, but more moderately as this year comes to a close.

The recession in Pierce County will continue through the first half of 2010. It will come to an end during the third quarter of the year. The current recession then, will be the deepest, longest and most severe in the past forty years.

A recovering U.S. economy combined with expansionary fiscal and monetary programs will help the local economy. Most of Pierce County’s trading partners will be growing again, helping the trade sector. But a stronger dollar will offset some of those gains. Single-family housing activity will improve during the year, as mortgage markets recover and credit becomes available. However, commercial and industrial real estate activity will be depressed for most of 2010. The local health care and military sectors will continue to fuel economic activity, but at a slower rate.

The benefits of the national recovery, increased trade flows, some new military construction spending and a recovering housing market will be enough to offset the negative effects of Russell Investments moving out of the area.

The recovery will strengthen in the fourth quarter of 2010, with the PCEI increasing at an annualized rate of 2.6% providing a solid foundation for the Pierce County economy as 2010 comes to a close.

A feature unique to this recession has been the drop in non-labor market income for Pierce County residents. This significant source of county residents’ personal income will be stagnant in 2010.

The annual average 2009 unemployment rate in Pierce County will be 9.3%. This year-over-year increase will be the largest on record. A difference in this recession is that usually the county rate exceeds the state and national rates and moves up more rapidly. In the 2009-10 recession the Pierce County unemployment rate started below the national and state rates, and then moved up more slowly than they did. Employment conditions in Pierce County remained stronger for longer than they have been in the past

After nearly two years of declining jobs in Pierce County, the economy will begin to generate new employment opportunities in the second half of 2010. Job growth will begin in the third quarter; this growth rate will almost double to 1% in the fourth quarter.

The turnaround in the second half of the year, though, will not offset the job losses in the first half. The net job loss in 2010 will mark the third consecutive annual decline in Pierce County.

All three retail sales drivers (income, confidence and credit) became worse during the current recession. It is no surprise that retail spending growth in Pierce County turned negative, and that spending fell below last year’s forecast.

For 2009, retail spending in Pierce County will drop by 7.5%, a loss of $415 million dollars from 2008. When adjusted for inflation, real retail sales in 2009 will be down by about 7.5%. For 2010, dollar retail volume will exceed 2009 by 2%. A total of $5.2 billion will be spent in the county during 2010 – up by $100 million from 2009.

As the Pierce County recovery takes hold, total personal income will begin increasing in 2010. Total personal income in Pierce County will increase by 5.7% in 2010, a gain of $1.5 billion. However, much of the added purchasing power will be eroded by inflation. In 2010 income growth will exceed the population increase, so per capita income will rise. The average resident’s income will move up to $34,700, a gain of 3.7% from 2009.

The First Time Home Buyer tax credit, a recovering local economy, attractive financing options and bargain-priced units will continue to push up single-family housing activity in 2010. For this forecast horizon, the multi-family housing market will remain fairly flat.

The commercial real estate outlook for this forecast horizon is mixed. The most significant challenge will be competition from the north. Local owners will have to be willing to make concessions.

Both in absolute terms and relative to the region, the industrial real estate market in Pierce County was strong through 2009. However, new demand is likely to be soft at best, during this forecast horizon.

2010 will see a further decline in volume for the Port’s international container business, as the major carrier and service string adjustments made in 2009 will now be felt over an entire year. For 2010, container volume will decline an additional 15.4% from 2009 levels, due solely to international trade declines. Domestic volume will be flat. The Port’s breakbulk and auto lines of business are projected to have little or a very low 1% growth in 2010.


At both the beginning and the end of the program, emcee and sponsor Jonathan Hensley, Pres., Regence BlueShield, asked attendees to determine if their glass was half-full or half-empty, and how to make it that way.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Facts & Myths - Health Care Reform


MoveOn.org last week distributed to its membership across the nation, including Washington state, a broadcast encouraging them to contact local chambers including your Chamber.

Their misleading message was that your Chamber was helping to “kill health reform” through its membership in the U.S. Chamber. They have urged your Chamber to quit the U.S. Chamber.

The Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber maintains its membership in the U.S. Chamber because it is an effective voice on a wide range of issues critical to the success—even survival, of business and the free enterprise system. They have recently launched a $100 million campaign in support of the American Free Enterprise System.

In addition to business advocacy, the U.S. Chamber provides research on issues, staff expertise, training for local chamber staff in organizational management and an accreditation program for recognition of local chamber operational excellence.

Your Chamber, the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber, continually works to offer benefits and an advocacy program to our members.

Our advocacy consists of working with partners at the state level, like the Association of Washington Business’ coalition of business partners for quality health care. And, we work together within our own legislature for health care and other community issues. (TEACH agenda link)

Our advocacy also includes our efforts at the federal level as during the annual Washington to Washington, D.C. delegation. On the last trip, health care was among our select community issues.

Enter your comments below to share your concerns and positions on business advocacy for health care reform.

Monday, December 7, 2009

General Election Results

This campaign season saw the usual unopposed incumbents, a number of surprise victories against incumbents, and quite a few open seats up for grabs. The result of the 2009 elections will be a greater mix of newer elected officials with incumbents. But before we review those results, let's review the state and local initiatives on the November ballot.

Initiative 1033, which was introduced by Tim Eyman, went down to defeat, while Referendum 71 passed by a narrow margin. Referendum 71 grants state registered domestic partners in Washington state with all rights, responsibilities, and obligations granted by or imposed by state law on married couples as passed by the state legislature.

At the county level, both Propositions 1 and 2 were rejected, while Proposition 3 was approved. The Chamber had recommended to its members the exact result of the election i.e. reject Props 1 and 2 and pass Prop 3.

At the Port, Connie Bacon and Dick Marzano easily won re-election, while Foss Waterway and Chamber member Don Meyer won his race for the open seat on the commission.

In the Tacoma elections, Tacoma City Council Member Marilyn Strickland will be the next mayor. In the race to replace Mike Lonergan, Victoria Woodards from the Metro Parks Board won against Keven Rojecki. In the race to replace Connie Ladenburg, who represents the south end of Tacoma, Joe Lonergan went on to defeat Beckie Summers-Kirby.

In Fircrest, we see the first of a trend in our area. Many incumbents lost in their bids for re-election. Half of the Fircrest council was unopposed, so Mayor McVay and Chris Gruver will return. In the contested races, incumbent Matt Jolibois was re-elected while incumbent Hans Hechtman was not. Denny Waltier will be sworn-in and will begin serving in January.

The trend against incumbents continued in University Place. In position 1, one of the founding members for cityhood – Linda Bird – lost in her re-election bid to Javier Figueroa. The same event happened to incumbent Lorna Smith who lost to Eric Choiniere. However, Ken Grassi did not suffer the same fate. He remains on the council after obtaining 72% of the vote in his race for Position 4. However, Ken Grassi did not suffer the same fate. He remains on the council after obtaining 72% of the vote in his race for Position 4. University Place did have an open seat for Position 5, which was won by Denise McCluskey against her opponent Rose Ehart.

In the Lakewood elections, the trend changes since the majority seats available were open with no incumbent running for re-election.

Mary Moss was elected to the open seat on the Lakewood city council as well as Jason Whalen (67%) and Mike Brandstetter (58%). The only incumbent, Doug Richardson, running for re-election for the Lakewood council, easily won with no opposition.

Special note: Mary Moss works at Harborstone Credit Union and has been an active Chamber member for years.

A very special note: Ray Tennison was re-elected to the University Place School Board. Ray is the immediate past Chair of the Chamber and been extremely active in the Chamber for nearly two decades.

As a business organization the Chamber celebrates these recent victories and its involvement in the process. This year the Chamber enhanced its education program for its members and the business community at large. The Chamber held two debates and provided numerous updates to its members throughout the campaign season. In addition, many Chamber's members were involved in local races this year. In some cases, Chamber members ran for office (Moss, Campbell, Tennison, etc.)

In 2010, the Chamber will maintain strong working relationships with public officials and establish good relationships with newly elected officials. The Chamber's members should know that the Chamber will continue to be active in the legislative arena.

Public Officials Thanked

The Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber saw its largest turnout for its annual Public Officials Holiday Reception, which was held on December 3 at the Washington State History Museum. Over 150 attendees joined the Chamber in thanking public officials for their service on behalf of the community.

The event was sponsored by TrueBlue, Brown & Brown, the Boeing Company and the Port of Tacoma with MultiCare and Rushforth Construction as the Presenting Sponsors of the night.

Chamber President/CEO David Graybill acted as the master of ceremonies and began with a moment of silence to honor the four Lakewood police officers, Puyallup Council Member George Dill and University Place Council Member Jean Brooks.

He asked the main sponsors to say a few words. Rushforth President Kim Nakamura and MultiCare's CEO and President Diane Cecchettini both spoke about the importance of civic involvement by the business community. Their remarks were followed by recognition for the public officials in the room and a brief speech by Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy.

Due to the popularity of this event, the Chamber has already announced it is planning for next year's reception. The tentative itinerary for the 2010 Public Officials Reception is Thursday, December 9, 2010 at the Pacific Grill Events Center from 5:00 pm to 7:30 pm. If you or your company would like to be a sponsor, please contact Mike Weinman at (253) 627-2175 soon since sponsorships are beginning to fill up already.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Forecasting the Recovery

Forbes.com released its own forecast for how fast the top 100 larger metropolitan areas would recover from the present recovery.

Our region continues to be viewed positively by those outside the region, with the Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue Metro Area ranked #15.

In just a little over a week, the Chamber will present its 23rd annual Horizons forecast of the well-being of the Tacoma-Pierce County area. You may register online for the event here.
Professors Bruce Mann and Doug Goodman, originators of the Pierce County Economic Index will again present their forecast for our community. They will be joined by well-known and respected Dr. John Mitchell, M&H Economic Consultants, for his regional and national forecast.

But, what do you think of our speed toward recovery? Give us your insight on the local recovery by participating in the instant poll survey in the left-hand column of this blog.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Getting Small Businesses Past Disasters

You are all aware of the rough weather we have had lately. In reviewing weather data from November 14th through November 23rd, there is a potential for requesting an Small Business Administration (SBA) Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Program for those businesses who have been hit hard by the storms.

From past conversations with the SBA we know the following.

The State of WA only needs to submit a minimum of five EIDL worksheets for the state demonstrating substantial economic injury to meet SBA’s EIDL declaration criteria. We will need at least one worksheet for each county that the State requests to be declared. In addition to the primary counties that SBA may declare, the contiguous counties would also be eligible.

Two documents to help you during this process. 1) The SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) FAQ sheet; 2) Estimated Disaster Economic Injury Worksheet for Businesses.

Now what do you need to do? Did you have roads closed that stopped people from getting to your business? How about the ferry that had to stop operation during the Gale force weather and you lost customers during that period? Or did the power outage stop you from even opening your door? This is economic injury! Fill out the form!

NOTE: Do not send the forms to the Washington Emergency Management Department. Doing so removes you from the information process and you may become unaware of what is happening.

Do send the forms to:
Rob Allen,
Pierce County Economic Development Department

The stronger we make our case to the SBA, the better it is for everyone. Remember, at least five businesses must complete the worksheet in order to request the program. Please note, the worksheets simply help establish that an economic injury has occurred. In no way does this mean that the business completing the form is applying for or is obligated in the future to apply for an SBA loan.

Here is some language from the federal rules regarding this program:

SBA makes an economic injury declaration in reliance on a state certification that at least 5 small business concerns in a disaster area have suffered substantial economic injury as a result of the disaster and are in need of financial assistance not otherwise available on reasonable terms. The state certification must be signed by the Governor, must specify the county or counties or other political subdivisions in which the disaster occurred, and must be delivered (with supporting documentation) to the servicing SBA Disaster Area Office within 120 days of the disaster occurrence. The SBA Administrator may, in a case of undue hardship, accept such a request after 120 days have expired.

Monday, November 16, 2009

"Unleashing Your Business Potential"

Small businesses and minority-owned businesses in the South Sound can benefit from the University of Puget Sound expo - "Unleashing your business potential." Lenders, business consultants, government agencies and non-profit organizations will offer information and advice to help you start and grow your business. This is a FREE event.

Saturday, November 21, 9:00 am to Noon
University of Puget Sound's Rasmussen Rotunda in the Wheelock Student Center. Click here for map.

For more information click here.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Tacoma Metro Rates a B++

The Milken Institute & Greetstreet Real Estate Partners has just published their 2009 Best Performing Cities annual report of the largest 200 metros. Their criteria focuses most on job creation and sustainability.

Texas lead states with the largest number of best performing cities, with four of the top five spots. Much of their showing was because they missed the housing boom/bust and weren't tied to trade.

Washington did fairly well, with two cities in the top 20. Olympia ranked as #7, because of its role as state capital (government employment) and Seattle ranked as #17, because of the strength of the tech sector. Even among the top rankings, it was often a case of who lost least.

Tacoma fell 13 positions (and was nowhere near the biggest losers or lowest ranked) to rank #21 nationally, primarily because of the fall-off in international trade, a trait shared around the nation among port cities. Tacoma was lauded for its wages & salaries growth momentum, Boeing and Intel and as an economical alternative to Seattle. The military was cited as providing stability to the region.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Small Businesses on the Web - Or Should Be?

Small businesses can thank Tacoman Scott Loughran for a better understanding of small businesses and their use of the web for marketing.

Loughran is in the Masters in Communications and Digital Media program at the University of Washington. His project, only available for a few days, is open to you.

Loughran is studying digital media and communications. You can learn more about the program here. The Flip the Media blog (work of the faculty and students here) is also a great resource for the Chamber and those businesses we serve.

Loughran's research is specifically investigating if micro (0-4 employees) & small businesses (5-25 employees) have websites, and if so, how they are using them to communicate and market their goods and services. His theory is that these businesses strongly rely on hiring out the construction of websites, and may not understand how popular tools like social media, blogging and pod casting could help customer retention and word-of-mouth advertising (the two most trustworthy forms of business growth to this sector.)

He hopes his research will accomplish two things:

First, consumers who want to shop local, some reports say 90% of them have started by searching for local businesses online. Other reports are saying that as little as 44% of micro/small businesses even have a website. With the health of our local economy largely being supported by the success of local business, we need to find a way to close this statistical gap.

Second, there are people in the community wanting to help local businesses. If we find there is enough of a need in the community, we can educate local businesses how this technology is beneficial to business. This could be through the Chamber for example, as a workshop, in service or part of a regular meeting.

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Big Business of Small Business Exporting

Mike Cave, president elect of Boeing Capital Corp. and a senior vice president of The Boeing Company, will talk to Washington state small businesses about expanding sales and creating U.S. jobs through exports at a half-day seminar Nov. 17 organized by six federal agencies at the Washington State & Convention Center in Seattle.

As America’s largest exporter, Boeing employs tens of thousands of skilled U.S. workers at its facilities and supports jobs indirectly at thousands of small- and mid-sized Boeing suppliers around the country, said Fred P. Hochberg, chairman and president of the Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im Bank), one of the six sponsoring agencies of the seminar. We are delighted to have Mike Cave share with seminar attendees his insights gained through a successful career exporting quality American-made technology to the world’s markets.

Cave, the designated successor to Boeing Capital President Walt Skowronski beginning on Jan. 1, 2010, is a keynote speaker at Exports Live! Real Deals, Real Profits, an eight-city seminar series. The seminars share strategies and resources used by local small and medium-size businesses that already have discovered how to increase profitability through exporting.

Feature presentations and Q&A sessions will involve successful small-business exporters that have benefited from government export services and solutions. Presenting regional companies include Response Associates, Global Remote Sensing, Seattle Safety, and E-3 Energy.

Representatives of the government organizations providing these export services also are on the program and available later in the day to offer one-on-one consultations. Leading the meeting will be the heads of Ex-Im Bank, the U.S. Department of Commerce, the Small Business Administration, the U.S. Trade and Development Agency, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative.

The Seattle seminar follows events in New York, Boston, Miami, Houston, Chicago and Los Angeles, and precedes a similar session in Detroit (Dec. 11). About 1,000 small businesses, lenders, brokers and trade specialists have attended the first five seminars.

Cave is a 26-year company veteran. Before assuming his current position as president elect of Boeing Capital Corp. in October, 2009, he was senior vice president of Business Development and Strategy for The Boeing Company. Boeing Capital is a wholly-owned subsidiary of The Boeing Company and is responsible for arranging, structuring and providing financing for Boeing’s products.

For more information and to register for the nearest seminar, click “Exports Live! or call toll-free 1-(888) 966-2009. Please note that space is limited.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

General Elections Are Finally Here!

The business community is waiting with great anticipation as ballots will be counted and the numbers will be released later tonight from the Pierce County Auditor’s office.

This year’s elections will impact business at the local level. Specifically, a majority of the Tacoma City Council is up for election and there is the potential for five brand new members depending on whether Strickland and/or Anderson are elected to other offices.

Propositions on the Pierce County ballot will determine whether incumbents on the Pierce County council will be allowed to seek an additional term of service. If not, five new positions will open up on the Pierce County council over the next three years which could produce uncertainty about the direction of the county and its legislative body.

This election will also determine whether the county’s controversial and expensive ranked choice voting system will remain in place. A majority of the Port of Tacoma Commissioners’ seats are up for consideration and election night will certainly lead to the selection of a brand new Port Commissioner (Ted Bottiger’s open seat will go to Don Meyer or Cathy Pearsall-Stipek).

Regardless of the scenario, Chamber members will be able to rely on the Chamber’s organization for enhancing relationships with these elected officials and at all levels of government.

The first election results will be available around 8:45 p.m. tonight at the Pierce County Auditor’s website.

Author: Mike Weinman

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Pierce County PALS/Public Works Taskforce Release Findings

Convening for the last few months at the request of Deputy Executive Kevin Phelps, the taskforce looked at function of Pierce County’s Planning and Land Services (PALS) and Public Works & Utilities (PWU) and suggested improvements. On the taskforce were: Dennis Hanberg of Apex Engineering; Rich Larson of Larson and Associates; Gareth Roe and Don Mellot of BCRA; Kathy Fewins of Investco; John Kanis of P.L.U.; Jim Hanson of the Bethel School District; Bob Damen of Sitts and Hill Engineering; Jan Smallenberg of TriPark Development; and Tiffany Speir of the Pierce County Master Builders Association.

The taskforce was concerned with streamlining the permitting and processing of land use and development entitlements. They investigated how improvements could speed up the permitting process and make it more reliable for users. Major issues identified and the taskforce’s recommendations regarding the organizational structure, systems and processes, code streamlining and the organizational/ leadership culture of both PALS and PWU are highlighted here.

Guest author: Arabie Jaloway-Hill

Friday, October 23, 2009

U.S. Chamber Under Attack Appears on Fox

You may watch FOX News Sunday with Chris Wallace this weekend, as U.S. Chamber Executive Vice President, Bruce Josten discusses the U.S. Chamber's position on recent legislation and targeted attacks against the organization.

The U.S. Chamber has been recently singled out for their efforts to protect American jobs, American employers and the economy. And people are taking notice.

Tune in on Sunday morning at 9:15 a.m. ET to hear Josten's remarks on the attacks and the Chamber's steadfast commitment to common sense policies - regardless of partisan politics.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Using Tech to Grow Your Own Success

Still need a website?

The City of Tacoma is presenting Stacy Karacostas, Success Stream Media for the next Economic Gardening Workshop: Build a Website on a Shoestring Budget. This engaging workshop will explain what it really takes to create a business website that works.

This workshop is FREE to any business that is located in Tacoma. See this link for detailed information about the workshop.

Date/Time: Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Choose a morning or evening session
8:00am – 10:00am or 5:30pm – 7:30pm

Location: Bates Technical College – South Campus
2201 S. 78th Street, Tacoma, WA 98409, Building E – Auditorium
Refreshments and light snacks will be served

So sign up today!
Register online for the Morning Session (8:00-10:00am)

Register online for the Evening Session (5:30-7:30pm)

To Register by Phone or for questions, please contact Christine Clifford or 253.573.2435.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Shock of the Future

Keynote addresses reason for optimism about Pierce County’s future in the post-neoliberal economy.

Glen Hiemstra, a Kirkland resident with strong ties to the South Puget Sound region, addressed the audience gathered at the Chamber’s 125th Annual Meeting. Hiemstra said the challenge before us is creating our preferred future from an economic present which has been demonstrated to be radically different from the recently imagined economy of the future.

Before delving into the future, Hiemstra drew our attention to the similarly radical changes during the turn of the previous century which witnessed explosive changes in technology and communications. For instance in 1884, the year the Chamber of Commerce began operating, Tacoma moved by foot or horse-drawn carriage. Average life expectancy in the United States was 45 to 47 years old. After-dark productivity required candle or lamplight. Yet, by the late 1920s the automobile had begun its explosive alteration of both the physical landscape and day-to-day commerce and behaviors of American society. Leaps in sanitation and medical care were accompanied by a steadily increasing lifespan. And, by the 1930s, only the most rural populations were left in the dark by sundown. As Hiemstra pointed out, the rapidity with which society has been able to transform itself is a major reason for optimism.

Hiemstra then turned his attention to the present, acknowledging the elephant-in-the-room discomfort that arises when discussing the financial turmoil of 2008-2009. Key elements in his how-we-got-here analysis included the astounding asymmetry in wealth created by certain profit-funneling aspects of the economy. This funneling has led to the ownership of more wealth by America’s top 10% than its bottom 90%. Hiemstra postulated that any system so unbalanced will eventually topple. Seen from his perspective, the events of 2008-2009 were an inevitable move toward adjustment. The question now, Hiemstra said, is “How do we rebuild a balanced economy that retains the fundamentals of free enterprise?”

This question shapes the future that Hiemstra envisions. He argued that we are witnessing a much-needed “economic reset” and pointed to a threefold silver lining. First, new jobless claims peaked in April of 2009. Although unemployment figures are still troubling, he pointed out that the trend line is indubitably decreasing. Second, most manufacturing indices have been on the upswing since mid-summer 2009. Third, the tech sector seems poised for some major breakthroughs, as exampled by Apple’s just reported record profits.

Hiemstra left us with three key words that describe tomorrow’s successful enterprise: smart, simple and sustainable. He gave several examples of the alive-and-well American entrepreneurial spirit, which is particularly well-represented here in the Puget Sound region.

Guest Blogger: Arabie Jaloway, TacomaACTS Coordinator

Monday, October 19, 2009

Option for Reviewing Health Care Options

With two Senate committees, the House of Representatives, White House and other interest groups each involved in creating a health care plan, it is difficult to determine how each would affect individuals and businesses.

The New York Times has an interactive chart for comparing the various plans from these different entities and how each might potentially affect various sectors of the economy.

Meet Vets as Job Candidates

An Opportunity Expo is scheduled to match job-seeking veterans, transitioning military personnel, members of the Guard and Reserve and military family members with hiring employers.

At this event, recruiters for employers, franchisers and educational institutions will meet face-to-face with these highly qualified and highly sought-after candidates. We invite you to join them!

Members of the Tacoma–Pierce County Chamber of Commerce who register to participate in this event are entitled to a 10% discount. To take advantage of this offer, contact RecruitMilitary’s Matt Murphy and mention your membership. Matt can be reached via email or 610-933-3331.

The Expo will be held on Thursday, November 19, 2009 from 11:00am – 3:00pm at the ShoWare Center. Additional details on this event can be found here.

At a RecruitMilitary Expo, you can begin the selection process with what is normally one of the final stages—a face-to-face meeting with the candidate. If you are looking to hire employees this year, or have a franchise/educational opportunity to offer, this is an event you won't want to miss!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Once Again Into the Breach at the Shoreline

Please join Chamber representatives and other businesses for a Shoreline Update Workshop.

When: Thursday, October 29th from 5-7 pm.
Where: Tacoma Municipal Building, Room 16
two entrances: 733 Market St. or 728 St. Helens Ave
Tacoma, WA 98402

The meeting will focus on use, restoration and public access opportunities in our shoreline districts. Please contribute your ideas to help shape the future of our shorelines.

For additional information please contact Chamber representatives or City of Tacoma staff, Stephen Atkinson, or at (253) 591-5531.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Poll: Reid in trouble; Murray next?

Republicans are fighting among themselves in Nevada. While it would appear a positive development for democrats in that state, it isn't. Prospective republican candidates are licking their chops at the opportunity of running against Senator Harry Reid, who is up for re-election next year.

Reid is the Senator Majority Leader for the democratically-held U.S. Senate and his race may be an indicator of the difficulties that lie ahead next year for democrats in general.

A recent poll from the Las Vegas Review-Journal shows Reid trailing potential challenger Rep. Dean Heller, who has indicated he will NOT run.

When poll respondents were asked about their views on Reid himself, 37 percent recognized Reid favorably and 50 percent were unfavorable.

However, Reid plans to raise nearly $25 million for his re-election campaign -- an election that takes place more than a year from now and he can expect help from national interests as well. In addition, democrats can expect support from President Obama, who maintains favorable ratings.

Democrats appear strong in other states including our own. According to polls conducted this year, long-time incumbent Senator Murray appears strong for next year's race. Her favorable numbers are over 50 percent and unfavorable only in the mid-30s. When she is pitted against specific republicans (Reichert, McKenna), her lead is in the double digits.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Evergreen Tacoma Initiative on Cusp





You can be part of the new Evergreen Tacoma Initiative by joining the City of Tacoma, the Tacoma-Pierce Co. Health Department and the University of Washington Tacoma (UWT) at a joint news conference announcing a proposed national model to environmental cleanup.
The Evergreen Tacoma Initiative takes a systematic approach to environmental cleanup by considering an entire area affected by soil and groundwater pollution, rather than by tackling the problem one parcel at a time. A team of representatives from state, county and local governments, private property owners, environmental consultants and other business professionals as well as non-profit organizations will work together to identify the system-wide sources of contamination and develop a cleanup and sustainable re-use plan to prevent re-contamination and enable reinvestment. This initiative will also help to protect Puget Sound.

Tacoma Mayor Bill Baarsma, City Manager Eric Anderson, Dr. Anthony Chen from the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department, Southwest Regional Office Director Sally Toteff from the Washington State Department of Ecology, Chancellor Pat Spakes and representatives from Senator Maria Cantwell’s and Congressman Norm Dicks’ offices are scheduled to speak about this new, next generation approach to environmental cleanup and redevelopment.

The event will be held on the UWT campus in the Tacoma Room at 10 a.m. on Tues., Oct. 13. For directions visit the UWT Web site.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Election Races Tighten

While campaign finances are not the deciding factor in a race, the amount of money a campaign raises and spends is critical. Recent data from the Public Disclosure Commission shows two races in Tacoma are even closer now and a third is beginning to heat up.

From a purely financial perspective, the race for mayor has been close throughout this campaign season.

The Merritt campaign started early and held a lead in contributions for several months until the last couple of weeks. Recent data now shows the Strickland campaign has pulled ahead ever so slightly.

In the race to replace Mike Lonergan, Keven Rojecki's campaign has had a major lead in the amount of money raised. However, Victoria Woodards' campaign has managed to pull somewhat closer.

In the race to replace Connie Ladenburg, who represents the south end of Tacoma, the numbers have been fairly stagnant until the last month. Both campaigns have raised significant amounts of money as the election approaches. Beckie Summers-Kirby has broken the $20,000 mark for contributions raised and Joe Lonergan's campaign can be expected to reach that mark before this election is over.

The key element in all of these campaigns will be how they spend the money over the last few weeks of this election season. The answer will likely detemine the outcome of these three races.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

University Place Debate Video

If you were unable to attend the Chamber's debate between city council candidates running in University Place, a video of the event is available on the City of University Place website or at the link below:

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

No "Claw Back" on Tacoma B&O Jobs Credit

The Tacoma City Council gets it with the business climate in Tacoma.

The Chamber and other economic development organizations advocated to councilmembers that today's economic climate forces some business, to act against their intentions and wishes, to reduce staff.

The City offers businesses a credit on their B&O tax for hiring and employing for five years jobs at family-wage compensation levels. Due to the current recessionary economic environment that has turned the once pervasive growth scenario on its head, businesses have found themselves unable to keep those desired employees.

Local businesses have recently received letters notifying them that they could be subject to paying back previous years tax incentives if they are not retaining employees for five full years.

The City Council meeting today as a Committee of the Whole, explored this issue as it affects the economic climate of the community. It was their expressed opinion and direction to their staff, to prepare city legislation that would cure what has become a punitive situation.

Businesses should expect correspondence from the City Tax & License department notifying them that any repayment ("claw back") of incentives claimed in prior years, should be held in abeyance until the City Council has the opportunity to act.

The City Council wishes to assist businesses in surviving in this stressful economy. However, Councilmembers expressed that companies deciding to relocate jobs outside Tacoma that were previously claimed for B&O credit, would not be exempt from enforcement "claw back" requirement.

For more information, contact Danielle Larson, Ops Manager, City Finance Department.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Election Guides Released

The Pierce County Auditor and The News Tribune have released their election guides for voters.

The Pierce County Auditor has released the county's voter guide. There are two editions of the guide based upon the voter's zip code. Please use the following information to select your appropriate guide:

Edition 1 98303, 98327, 98329, 98332, 98333, 98335, 98349, 98351, 98388, 98394, 98395, 98401, 98402, 98403, 98404, 98405, 98406, 98407, 98408, 98409, 98411, 98412, 98415, 98416, 98417, 98418, 98419, 98421, 98422, 98430, 98431, 98433, 98438, 98439, 98444, 98445, 98448, 98464, 98465, 98466, 98467, 98490, 98492, 98496, 98497, 98498, 98499

Edition 2 98022, 98047, 98092, 98304, 98321, 98323, 98328, 98330, 98338, 98344, 98348, 98354, 98360, 98371, 98372, 98373, 98374, 98375, 98385, 98387, 98390, 98391, 98396, 98397, 98398, 98424, 98443, 98446, 98447, 98558, 98580


The News Tribune released their annual election guide to the candidates running for office this year. Enjoy the guide by going to the following link: TNT's Guide

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Sen. Cantwell's Health Care Amendment passes

The Wall Street Journal reports today that Senator Cantwell was successful in obtaining approval of an amendment that allows states to use federal funds for public health insurance plans instead of providing direct subsidies to low and middle income people.

Senator Cantwell sees the amendment as a public plan that would be negotiated with the private sector.

More from the Wall Street Journal:

By Patrick Yoest of DOW JONES NEWSWIRES
WASHINGTON --The Senate Finance Committee approved an amendment to health-care legislation Thursday that would allow states to use federal funds to set up public health insurance plans for lower-income and middle-income people.

The amendment, offered by Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., would allow states to steer funds from the government from the health-care measure to set up plans for those whose income puts them between 133% and 200% of the poverty line. The state plans would then contract with private insurers to provide the coverage.

Cantwell referred to it as "a public plan, but negotiated with the private sector." The amendment was approved by a 12-11 vote, with all Republicans and Sen. Blanche Lincoln, D.-Ark., voting against it.

States wouldn't be required to set up the plans. If they did, the amendment encourages them to offer "care coordination" - or greater collaboration among health care providers - as part of an effort to lower costs. Cantwell suggested that the states would have significant bargaining power with their own plans, pointing to an example in her home state, known as the Basic Health Plan.

"This is a way to help the whole nation move towards those kinds of efficiencies," Cantwell said.

Those that would eligible for coverage in a state plan - which Cantwell estimated would be up to 75% of the adult population currently lacking insurance - don't qualify for Medicaid in most states.

Under Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus' health-care bill, they would receive subsidies to purchase health coverage in an insurance "exchange." The Cantwell amendment would allow states to use the value of the subsidies to finance a state health plan, however.

Roughly $200 billion in what would have been spent on subsidies would instead be steered to the states under the amendment, according to Cantwell. She said that "about a dozen states" would be immediately ready to set up the plans. The state plans would attract managed care organizations to areas that don't currently have them, she said.

America's Health Insurance Plans, a trade group that represents health insurers, raised questions about the Cantwell amendment in a statement.

AHIP spokesman Robert Zirkelbach said the Basic Health Plan in Washington state "has had significant unintended consequences, including budget shortfalls, skyrocketing premiums, waiting lists, and reductions in enrollment."

Zirkelbach said the group doesn't have "a lot of specifics" on the Cantwell amendment right now, but that "a new government-run plan in any form is not necessary."

Leading insurers in AHIP include Aetna Inc. (AET), Humana Inc. (HUM), Cigna Corp.(CI) and UnitedHealth Group Inc (UNH).

Cantwell acknowledged the budget shortfall in her state, but said that the state plan was still functioning effectively and that a number of insurers still participated in the Washington state health plan.

"It's been tough economic times, but that's all the more reason that we don't want to see poor people fall through," Cantwell said. "If you don't put a negotiator in the room to negotiate with insurance companies, you are not going to get the rates down."

State minimum wage to remain unchanged

Washington's minimum wage will remain at $8.55 an hour next year.

Initiative 688, which Washington voters approved in 1998, requires the minimum wage to increase to account for inflation. Labor and Industries (L&I) announced that because the Consumer Price Index (CPI) decreased about 2 percent during the past year, the minimum wage will not be increasing for the first time since Initiative 688 passed.

Washington still has the highest minimum wage in the nation.

So if the CPI decreased, why didn’t the state minimum wage? L&I spokeswoman Elaine Fischer, was quoted in yesterday’s Puget Sound Business Journal, the law “doesn’t specify anything about decreasing the minimum wage.”

Big Debate Night in University Place


The University Place-Fircrest Division of the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber held its debate last night at the Curtis High School Auditorium with Division President Deanna Cleaveland acting as moderator -- her final action as division president since her term expired today.

All eight of the candidates running for the University Place City Council discussed issues ranging from attracting new businesses and retaining current ones to the Town Center project and the "one quality they will be looking for in a new city manager" (current manager Bob Jean has announced his retirement).

An audience of over 80 people watched the candidates debate and spoke with them afterward at the reception. Photos of the event will be posted here shortly.

The City of University Place will be posting the video of this entire event soon at this link.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Survival of Your Small Biz

Learn tips on how to protect your business and be ready for economic recovery at this free workshop event sponsored by the public-private advisory board that hosts the Governor's Industrial Safety & Health Conference.

Survival Strategies for Small Business Owners Workshop
When: Wednesday, October 7th , 2:00 - 4:00 pm
Where: Greater Tacoma Convention & Trade Center, 1500 Broadway, Tacoma, 98402

Agenda items:
  • Keys to success in any economic times - Eric Hahn, Vice President, General Plastics Manufacturing Co.
  • Keep your "A-Team" together/Prepare to staff up fast for the recovery - Bonnie Jackson, Chief Executive Officer, CJC HR & Business Liaisons, LLC
  • Workplace Safety and profitability are partners - Herb Maxey, CSP, ALCM, Senior Loss Control Consultant, Farmers Insurance Group

Extra benefits:

  • Business owners/managers attending the workshop are invited to tour the safety and health trade show that accompanies the conference--at no charge
  • The conference features drop-in assistance at the Small Business Resource Center, where business owners can get connected to a local business advisor and get answers about workplace safety, workers' compensation, professional licensing, unemployment insurance and business taxes

Register for the Free Workshop

Governor's Safety and Health Conference website

Debate in University Place Today


The University Place-Fircrest Division of the Chamber is hosting a forum between the city council candidates in University Place on September 30, 2009 from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm at the Curtis High School Auditorium.

The forum will feature a debate from 6:30 pm to approximately 8:00 pm followed by a reception to allow one-on-one interaction between the candidates and attendees.

We had requested potential questions of our blog readers and wish to thank those that responded. See you tonight!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Chamber Finds End of the Road

The Tacoma Delegation (shown preparing room setup) at the annual Alaska State Chamber of Commerce (ASCC) Conference and Trade Show.

50 is a special number this year for Alaskans who celebrate their 50th year of statehood. Also celebrating were ASCC members at their 50th annual meeting and trade show.

Tacoma, which has sponsored a Tacoma Breakfast and has a 24-year continuous run of commemorative mugs featuring cities in Alaska, chose the conference site, Homer AK, for the 2009 design.

More importantly to our Chamber members is the work during the bulk of the ASCC conference as these Tacoma delegates demonstrated our community's commitment to the Alaska market, gained new knowledge about the issues and challenges in Alaska and reinforced among Alaskans our commitment to the economic partnership we enjoy.

Fircrest Candidates Debate/Forum 2009

The University Place-Fircrest Division of the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber held a candidate forum for Fircrest City Council candidates on September 23 at the Fircrest Recreation Center. This forum was a 1-hour candidates’ debate followed by a 1-hour reception.

The forum aimed to educate and inform the community about the candidates and their positions on the important issues concerning our economy, our infrastructure and our ability to build a “climate” that keeps and creates businesses with good paying jobs.

Many topics were covered including the benefits of not having a B&O tax. This is an advantage Fircrest has when recruiting businesses to the area. Another topic covered was the deterioration of the sewer infrastructure, where the candidates disagreed on the methods of fund-raising to replace it. Suggestions included raising taxes, dipping into the city’s rainy day funds and applying for federal grants.

Hearing the candidate’s perspectives on these issues was of primary importance. It allowed audience members to understand the specific approaches each of them would take if elected to the Fircrest City Council.

View photos from the event here.

Do you have a question for the candidates?

You have an opportunity to have a question asked of the candidates running for office in University Place.

The University Place-Fircrest Division of the Chamber is hosting a forum between the city council candidates in University Place on September 30, 2009 from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm at the Curtis High School Auditorium.

The forum will feature a debate from 6:30 pm to approximately 8:00 pm followed by a reception to allow one-on-one interaction between the candidates and attendees.

If you would like to have a question asked of the candidates, please submit it to Chelsea Levy at chelseal@tacomachamber.org. Because this is a forum focused on business, we would prefer questions related to the local economy, business climate and economic development. We do not guarantee the question will be asked, but if it is good and we have enough time, we will ask it.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Chamber Positions on Ballot Issues

The Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber Board of Directors voted today to take the following positions on upcoming ballot measures and urges all chamber members and business people to vote:

- No on I-1033
- No on Prop 1
- No on Prop 2
- Yes on Prop 3

More details below:

No on I-1033: This initiative, if passed, would “limit growth of certain state, county and city revenue to annual inflation and population growth, not including voter-approved revenue increases. Revenue collected above the limit would reduce property tax levies."

While this may appear favorable, the Chamber is opposing the measure for several reasons. The formula it is based upon is rudimentary and non-responsive to real time issues. It does not allow government to respond to upturns in the economy -- which means when business needs more infrastructure, the government will be held back by an arbitary formula. It also limits the ability of our elected officials to govern. More information at http://no1033.com/

No on Prop 1 & 2: These measures would move current county elections to odd-years, costing the county more since election expenses would not be shared with the federal and state governments, which have ballot issues on even-years.

Yes on Prop 3: This ballot measure would eliminate the unpopular voting system known as Ranked Choice Voting. The system also requires the county to spend more money on the printing of specialized ballots each time this system is used.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Shoreline Update Restarts Again

Circumstances have repeatedly delayed the update of the City of Tacoma’s Shoreline regulations. But a meeting last Thursday night reviewed the progress to date, the schedule for draft review and adoption, outline and structure of the Shoreline Management Plan (SMP), as well as proposed Environment Designations for shoreline areas and proposed Shoreline District boundary revisions.

Draft documents have been posted to the City’s website.

Staff, consultants and attending citizens and industry experts were stalwart in their determination to wade through the complex and comprehensive information. The PowerPoint is now posted.

In addition to determining what regulatory updates may impact you, if you own, live or work within 115 feet of high water, there are proposed changes all along the shoreline from Day’s Island to Dash Point. (Other jurisdictions have shoreline regs too.)

Of the numerous changes, new boundaries and other staff suggestions, the only suggested zone boundary change from the private sector (profit or non-profit), the Chamber’s suggestion to include all the Foss Industrial peninsula west of E. 11th Street, was NOT included.

The Chamber’s suggested boundary had the effect of including the defined area in with like development in the port-industrial area and removing artificial constraints to retention or expansion of industry.

Since this process has been so delayed, the Chamber will be contacting those businesses impacted by this suggested shoreline regulatory zone to determine if local desires still support this proposed amendment to what is still called an Interim Regulation.

UPDATE: 09-09-25 "Elitist Vision"

Yesterday, The News Tribune columnist Peter Callaghan wrote about the "elitist vision" of those who see "no room for 'dirty, polluting' industry" in our community. He was referencing a panel discussion sponsored by Conversations RE: Tacoma.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Primary Update

Turnout was low for this year’s August primary. The total returned ballots for the primary were only 19% of the total registered voters in our county. While the August primary (the primary used to be held in September) allows candidates more time to engage in communicating with voters, the new primary months appears to have cut down on the number of voters participating, which is likely due to the season (vacation, etc.).

Despite the low turnout, the fields for several positions throughout Pierce County were narrowed down as a result of the primary. In the Port of Tacoma Commissioner, Position 1 race with its field of three candidates, only two remain. Incumbent Connie Bacon handily won with over 56% of the vote followed by Bill Casper, who only garnered 29% of the vote.

In the council races, the contenders were cut down. Lakewood Council Position 2 was whittled down to Mike Brandstetter (46%) and Connie Coleman Lacadie (39%). The Milton Mayor’s race will down to Katrina Asay (42%) and Leonard Sanderson (34%).

Three of the Puyallup seats were narrowed down. In Puyallup Council District 1 Position 2 Tony Aho (45%) and incumbent George Dill (48%) will face off in November; Puyallup Council District 2 Position 2 will have Rick Hansen (49%) and Christopher Taylor (38%); and Puyallup Council District 3 Position 2 will have John Alexander (53%) and Kent Boyle (31%).

In the Tacoma Council Position #4, representing the Eastside of Tacoma, Marty Campbell won with 57% of the vote followed by Roxanne Murphy with 24%. In Tacoma Council Position #5, the seat representing the South End of Tacoma, Joe Lonergan (42%) and Beckie Summers Kirby (37%) will face off in the general election.

In other races, University Place narrowed one of its contests for University Place Council Position 1 to Javier Figueroa (44%) and Linda Bird (37%) and the Tacoma School District #10 Position 2 was cut down from six candidates to Jerry Thorpe (26.85%) and Catherine Ushka-Hall (26.48%) in a very close race.

The Chamber will once again be engaging its members with candidates for office through a series of candidate forums. The Fircrest candidates forum will be held on September 23 from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm at the Fircrest Recreation Center. The University Place candidates forum will be held the following week on September 30 from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm at the Curtis High School auditorium.



Blog Author: Mike Weinman

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

City Council Candidates Talk Business

Local advocacy is an important component of the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber’s mission. In fulfilling our commitment to assist in the election of business-minded public officials, the University Place-Fircrest Division of the Chamber will be hosting two forums for City Council candidates in University Place and Fircrest.

The events will consist of a moderated debate between the candidates on various business and community issues and a post-debate reception to allow audience members to engage in one-on-one dialog with the candidate. We encourage community members to submit their questions for the candidates prior to the debate. Email all questions to chelseal@tacomachamber.org.

Fircrest Candidates Forum
Wednesday, September 23rd, 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. at the Fircrest Recreation Center
Place: Fircrest Recreation Center 555 Contra Costa Ave. Fircrest 98466
Price: Complimentary – Open to the public
Info: Chelsea Levy, chelseal@tacomachamber.org or 253.627.2175

AND

University Place Candidates Forum
Wednesday, September 30th, 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. at the Curtis High School Auditorium
Place: Curtis High School 8425 40th St. W University Place 98466
Price: Complimentary – Open to the public
Info: Chelsea Levy, Chelseal@tacomachamber.org or 253.627.2175

Please note: These forums are intended for the education of the public on candidates’ views regarding issues impacting business. The forums are not meant to endorse or support particular candidates. All City Council candidates with opposition were invited, though not all candidates will choose to attend.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Feds Tack on Regs/Water Swirls

The Chamber is serving the business community as a stakeholder on Tacoma Water's stakeholder group for the Water Treatment Decision. That issue was first presented to the stakeholders at their meeting Aug. 6.

Already, the community has been exposed to the issue through The News Tribune's feature article and their recent announcement of various community meetings.

Briefly, the issue is that the feds have added a federal regulation for public health about a "bug" commonly called "crypto." There are two options, as explained in the above links. One, UV treatment is - shall we say - less expensive that the other option, filtration. The UV option is estimated to cause water rate increases of 5-10% for several years. The filtration option is estimated to cause water rate increases of 15-20% for several years.

Complicating the choices are that another set of federal standards address issues like coliform contamination, turbidity, etc. If any one of these set of 12 standards is violated, the water utility will have to invest in the filtration treatment option.

The Chamber has asked Tacoma Water to determine if the costs of assuring the management of the set of 12 standards, with an acceptable level of risk, will be cheaper when combined with UV treatment to avoid the more expensive filtration option.

That cost information and risk assessment is due from Tacoma Water's consultant near the end of October. That information should help in adding some facts, instead of just cost estimates and professional treatment preferences, to the public policy decision on what's best for Tacoma's water customers.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Tacoma Fuzhou Trade Project

The Tacoma-Fuzhou Trade Project will represent Pierce County firms at a booth in the US Pavilion at the China International Fair for Investment & Trade to be held in Xiamen, China, September 8-11, 2009.

If your company is interested in having a flyer printed and displayed with a Chinese explanation at the booth, please contact Project Consultant Mike Fowler at mobile 206-795-6644. The estimated cost to be borne by participating companies is $150.00.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Biting the Bad Bug Back

Health officials are warning of widespread outbreak of the H1N1 virus known as swine flu this fall, with peak outbreak predicted to arrive before October.

Earlier this year, the Chamber posted guideline documents that business, individuals and families and other organizations could use in planning for businesses' operations if public health mandates kept employees or customers away.

As the business liaison to the state’s Emergency Management Division, the Association of Washington Business (AWB) is working to provide health officials and emergency responders with critical input from employers about how this influenza outbreak could affect business in our state. For example, do you have the information you need to keep your doors open? What information do you want or need on this issue?

Please take a moment to complete this brief online survey. Your comments and suggestions will be shared directly with officials working to prepare our state in advance of a major flu outbreak. Employer responses will go a long way to assist the Department of Health in understanding business needs at this point in the planning process.

The survey closes at noon, Thursday, Sept. 3.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Shop Talk with Congressman Dicks

A broad cross section of leading executives in the Tacoma-Pierce county area turned out for the Chamber’s 21st Century Partners’ Insider Briefing Monday morning. CEOs in the private sector to Executive Directors in the public sector were able to speak with Congressman Norm Dicks on federal issues.

Ray Tennison, Simpson Investment Company told a story of meeting with Cong. Dicks after work at the Congressman’s office to discuss an industry issue and suggest a specific language change in an upcoming bill. Cong. Dicks not only met on the issue, but took it before Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and got the necessary language change.

“Still getting used to the idea that we’re running this place,” Rep. Dicks joked.

Cong. Dicks spoke to the group about the stimulus plan. He would prefer more infrastructure, spending especially on stormwater and waste water treatment. He pointed out that it is unlikely that there will be a second stimulus package as there is a need to get the first package’s dollars “out and spent to help encourage the economy.”

A sector of the economy that Dicks says we should appreciate during this tough economic time is the military presence in the area. “We’re fortunate to have federal installation like the shipyard, Fort Lewis, and McChord AFB. It gives the area much needed stability,” Dicks said.

Dicks went on to speak about health care, a controversial issue. He said, “health care costs are killing us” and we need to do something about it. Town hall meetings are coming up next week and Dicks was hoping for civility—a key component of the democratic process.

His aides passed out a New Yorker article that Dicks found interesting about the health care controversy, especially about the waste from unnecessary tests mentioned in the article. He went on to mention Washington State is not being fully compensated by the federal government for its health spending and he is working on an improved reimbursement formula for states like ours. He, along with other members of the Washington State congressional state delegation, are pushing for the Institute of Medicine to determine the existing disparities between geographic areas and how to fix that issue.

Let’s at least reform Medicare. Thirty percent of expenses can be reformed without impacting quality of care,” urged Dicks.

Blog Author: Mike Weinman, Government Affairs Manager

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

An Alternative to Layoffs

Employment Security’s Shared-Work Program allows employers to temporarily reduce the work hours of their full-time employees by up to 50 percent, while the workers collect partial unemployment benefits to replace a portion of their lost wages.

Shared Work is great for employers because they get to keep their experienced and skilled workers.

The program is designed to be flexible to meet a variety of business needs – and it is working. A record 2,062 businesses and nearly 42,000 employees are currently participating in the program.

In a recent survey of participating employers, 56% said the Shared-Work Program has helped them survive the recession.

Information about the program is available online, search on “shared work,” or by phone at 800-752-2500.

Guest Author: Employment Security Commissioner Karen Lee

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Streets to Close Around Luzon Building

At this afternoon’s City Council Study Session City staff announced that starting tomorrow S. 13th Street and the southbound outside lane of Pacific Ave., adjacent to the Luzon Building will close for an undetermined amount of time.

The street closures are the City’s response to the “life safety” risks that the deterioration of the Luzon Building poses to pedestrians and passing traffic. Drivers accessing I-705 are encouraged to detour to ramps at S. 21st St. and S. 9th St.

Friday, August 7, 2009

To Be or Not To Be Effective

The State is seeking a new mission (and has a new name) for its principal agency charged with business assistance and economic development.

You may help shape their agenda by taking a survey designed to gain a broad sense of the state’s opportunities and challenges to grow and improve jobs in Washington. Just click on this link.

The survey should take less than 10 minutes to complete. The survey will close on August 28.

Feedback will help inform the proposals in a report for the Governor and Legislature by November 1. The report will include recommendations about the key functions that best fit the mission and vision of the Department of Commerce. This survey does not explicitly address how the agency will be structured because they seek first to clearly define the functions they should be doing and will then organize to be successful.

Thank you for your commitment to helping shape the new Washington State Department of Commerce. If you have additional comments or ideas beyond the survey questions, you can email them.