Wednesday, June 23, 2010

“Big Man on Small Business” Speaks

James Donaldson regaled Spotlight! On Business Award event attendees on June 22 with stories from his NBA playing years and his experiences as a small business entrepreneur. Donaldson, currently the Director of College Success Foundation and author of the newly published book, “Above the Crowd,” gave pointers on how to maintain a business in this tough economy.

Among other advice, he stressed how important it is to:

  • Have a vision and a passion for what you are doing.
  • Believe in your talent.
  • Set goals. Citing his own goal of “playing until he was 40,” when he was starting out in the NBA, Donaldson kept going until he surpassed his goal, playing until he was 42 years old.
  • Empower your employees, your “team.”
  • Engage in peer-to-peer networking.
  • Know who the “MVP is of your “team.”
  • Accept that change will happen, if you stand still, things like technology and your
    competition will “run you over.”
Interspersed with tidbits such as a stint playing on the Harlem Globetrotters, Donaldson’s message was upbeat and encouraging.
Visit the Chamber's website for those selected for the 2010 Spotlight! On Business Awards.

House Passes Small Business Capital Bill

Last week the U.S. House of Representatives passed the "Small Business Lending Fund (SBLF) Act," H.R. 5297, by a vote of 241 – 182. The act will help small businesses secure capital through new community bank incentives, gain support for state lending initiatives, and open venture capital markets to small businesses.

In addition to the new $30 billion lending fund for community banks that is intended to provide $300 billion in lending to entrepreneurs, Rep. Glenn Nye (D-VA) and Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-OR) have made amendments to the bill. Rep. Nye authored safeguards in the bill that will require banks to substantially boost their small business lending to qualify for funds, and Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-OR) will establish a new borrower assistance program that provides additional funds to small businesses who take out loans. Such funds can be used at the entrepreneur's discretion to reduce their interest rates, defer their loan, or cover monthly payments.

The Act also contains provisions aimed at reinvigorating investment in small startups through the establishment of a new "Small Business Early Stage Investment program" where funds from the SBA will be paired with private capital to invest in small startups.

"In a world where revolutionary new products are conceived in dorm rooms and companies are born in garages, we need new ways of meeting businesses' capital needs," said Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez, the Chairwoman of the House Committee on Small Business. "The Small Business Early Stage Investment program recognizes this fundamental shift, taking steps to meet the capital needs of new businesses and helping them create jobs."

WPC’s 8th Annual Environmental Policy Conference & Luncheon

On Thursday, July 29, 2010 the Chamber will co-present the Washington Policy Center’s Annual Health Environmental Conference. The event, Politics or Science: How Do We Make Environmental Policy? will be held at The Westin in Seattle from 8:00am-1:30pm. The keynote speaker will be Dr. Roger Pielke, Jr., a Professor at the University of Colorado’s Environmental Studies Program, Senior Fellow of the Breakthrough Institute and Fellow of the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences. Dr. Pielke will address the failures of the scientific process in climate science.

The conference will also feature panel discussions on:
GMA Costs vs. Benefits: Time for An Independent Audit
The future of energy
Effective environmental stewardship
A review of the 2010 Legislative Session and preview of 2011’s Legislative Session

Register online at the Washington Policy Center’s website

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Candidates File For Office

There were some surprises in this year's candidate filings, which officially begin the election season this year. Some of those surprises include:

Republican challengers in East Pierce County to the Roach family - 31st Legislative District (LD) /Pierce County Council (PCC) Seat 1

Last minute filings in the South Tacoma state legislative races - 29th LD

Large number of challengers for several seats - 8th Congressional District (CD) /PCC7

Reappearance of past incumbents - 2nd LD /PCC7

Click here for more information. Incumbents are bolded in this list.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Tacoma Joint Committees Go at Shoreline Again

Please find available for your information, a letter/report from Ryan Petty, Director, Community & Economic Development Dept. to Eric Anderson, City Manager, City of Tacoma, dated June 3, 2010. This letter/report addresses many of the issues raised in the Council's Committee of the Whole on May 18.

Of particular interest, given just a quick read, are these issues:
  1. Sufficiency of timeline to include other issues (Foss Transportation Plan, Foss Vision Plan)
  2. DOE issues
  3. Alteration of SMP District boundaries
  4. Appendix C: Proposed Environment Designations (NEW)
This report is from page 40 to page 83 in the City Manager's report to the Council. You may access just the letter (7 ppg.) and Appendixes A-D (15 ppg.) as well as Appendix E: Shoreline Master Program Submittal Checklist, (22 ppg.) can be downloaded from the City site.

FYI, in brief, the Council Joint Economic Development and Environment & Public Works Committee meeting of June 9, 2010, covered many of these same issues as detailed in this letter/report and appendixes. Of particular note was the Council's interest in a Foss visioning process/plan (and availability of time).

Fried Over Easy

Ben Stein has competition nipping at his coattails.  Neal Fried, head economist for the State of Alaska, Department of Labor, Research and Analysis Section, presented as entertaining a commentary  that went over as easily among listeners about Alaska's, Washington's and the national economy as any other economist/comedian.

Among Fried's comments at today's meeting of the Transportation Club of Tacoma:
  • 2009 is the first time Alaska's economy has shrunk in 21 years
  • There have been 21 consecutive years of uninterrupted growth in Alaska
  • Even then, job losses were -0.5% in 2009, compared with -4.6% for WA and 6.1% for US
  • Easy to understand since AK's economy is so different: 
    • 1/3 oil industry
    • 1/3 federal
    • 1/3 everything else
  • Employment forecast
    • 2010:  +0.4%
    • 2011:  +0.6%
  • Growth rate of 1.3% for 2000-2009
  • 2009 first time ever Alaska's unemployment rate was below US average unemployment rate
  • The Gulf of Mexico oil spill is of vital interest to AK
    • BP is state's biggest oil producer
    • Already impacting drilling permits offshore
    • May increase interest in gas line proposals
Presented by the Alaska Committee of the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber, this event was another in a series of continuing initiatives to share more about the economic partnership tieing Alaska and Washington States.

Sponsorship support was provided by Alaska Airlines.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Golden Shovels Turned at New LeMay/Pierce County Refuse Headquarters

Ceremonial shovel-turning marked the beginning of another project at Pierce County’s largest planned industrial site, Frederickson. This project will have a positive impact on continued growth in the Frederickson area.

Chamber President & CEO David Graybill was among company & public officials speaking at the event. Graybill noted the community involvement of the companies, the importance of the investment and the commitment to environmental excellence.

LeMay Inc. / Pierce County Refuse, a Waste Connections Company, broke ground for their new facility at 4109 192nd St. E. The new 63,000 sq ft office/shop, when completed will allow 135 employees to better serve the businesses and residences of Pierce County.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Small Business Health Care Tax Credit Overview

The health care reform law includes the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), which was signed into law by President Obama on March 23, 2010, and the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 (HCERA), which was signed into law on March 30, 2010. These two laws together make sweeping changes to the nation’s health care system, including many changes that affect employers.

One positive change for some small employers is a Federal income tax credit for health insurance premiums they pay for certain employees.

Read more here in an overview prepared by the Chamber’s health care partner, Brown and Brown of WA.