Tuesday, August 31, 2010

US-Korea FTA Explores Adoption

The US-Korea FTA Forum tackled the contemporary question for adoption of the proposed free trade agreement between the U.S. and South Korea.  Korean Ambassador Han Duk-soo was the featured speaker addressing the issues.

Amb. Han noted that the U.S. already enjoys a trade surplus with Korea, and benefits from a net positive flow of foreign investment into the U.S. from Korean investors.   This FTA is expected to benefit the U.S. with $10-$11 billion increase in exports once adopted.  This FTA is the largest yet negotiated by Korea, but it remains unadopted.

(l to r) Consul General Lee and Ambassador Han confer during the Forum. More Photos.

For the U.S., Korea is now the world's fifth largest economy and the fourth largest in Asia.  This market of affluent consumers would become more accessible on US-Korea FTA adoption. For instance, Amb. Han referred to Roman Meal, an experienced and substantive exporter that is not in the Korean market because Korea currently charges an 800% tariff on whole wheat.  That tariff would disappear in 10 years with adoption of the FTA.

However, Pres. Obama has spoken of his preference for its adoption before a scheduled trip to Korea this November.  Already, a proposed Korea-E.U. FTA is nearing adoption, an agreement that wasn't even on the table when the U.S. Korea FTA was first submitted to Congress.  If the U.S. continues to stall, American companies and workers stand to lose big as Europeans gain eased market share.

A special thanks to collaborating organizations:  Tacoma-Pierce Co. Chamber, World Trade Center Tacoma, Korean Women's Assn., U.S. Chamber of Commerce, TradeRoots, U.S.-Korea Business Council and the Port of Tacoma (for additional hosting activities).

Chamber’s Metropolitan Development Manager appointed to State Board

Chelsea Levy, the Chamber’s Metropolitan Development Manager has been appointed by Governor Gregoire to the State’s Commute Trip Reduction Board (CTR Board) to serve a four-year term.

The CTR Board establishes program guidelines for the state's Commute Trip Reduction program, which strives to remove commute trips from the highway system, decreasing congestion and improving air quality. The board develops, reviews and approves local and regional and state plans, allocates funding, and provides general policy guidance for the CTR program.

Programs created by the CTR Board focus on removing trips from roadways by encouraging local jurisdictions and large employers to develop plans that motivate employees to commute in ways other than driving alone. The Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber’s Downtown: On the Go! program supports the work of the CTR Board.
Downtown: On the Go!, a partnership between the Chamber, City of Tacoma and Pierce Transit promotes and advocates for transportation choices and commuter resources in downtown Tacoma. Downtown: On the Go! staff can help connect businesses and commuters to bus passes, ridesharing opportunities, vanpools, flexible work arrangements and more. Similarly, the Downtown: On the Go Transportation Partnership is an active partnership between 23 downtown businesses that leverage their resources and relationships to advocate for more transportation options in downtown Tacoma.

For more information about Downtown: On the Go’s programs and resources contact Julia Petersen, (253) 627-2175, juliap@tacomachamber.org

Monday, August 30, 2010

AWB's Regional Candidates Meetings in Pierce County

AWB’s Regional Membership Meetings, candidate interviews start tomorrow.

It’s not too late to RSVP for AWB’s Regional Membership Meetings and candidate interviews. These important meetings begin this week with a gathering tomorrow in Tacoma, followed by meetings in Vancouver and Bellevue. The meetings, which continue through the middle of September, not only give you a chance to meet with legislators, but are also an important part of AWB’s candidate endorsement process. Meetings are scheduled for:

· Aug. 31 — Tacoma (regional meeting and candidate interviews)

· Sept. 9 —  Gig Harbor (candidate interviews only)

· Sept. 10 — Puyallup (candidate interviews only)

Detailed information, including times, specific locations and agendas, is available on AWB’s events calendar. RSVP to AWB’s Bonnie Millikan at 800.521.9325.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

TacomaACTS Updates Their Website and Moves Their Blog!

The TacomaACTS blog page has moved to the updated TacomaACTS website!

Visit the updated website and join the Alliance to receive a monthly update on the program and make connections with other businesses pursuing sustainable business practices.

Don't forget to mark your calendars for the September 29th workshop on cost saving practices and incentives to save energy in your business!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Small Business: How Are You Doing?

Managing a small business is a big challenge – national survey results confirm it. How are you doing?

The semiannual Small Business Success Index tells the story in terms of six dimensions found to most influence small business success in America: marketing and innovation, technology (use of), capital access, work force, customer service and compliance (laws and regulations). The purpose of the national survey is to track the competitive health of small businesses over time. On these six measures and overall, America’s small businesses earn a “C” grade – just “getting by.”

The survey has been developed collaboratively by the University of Maryland Smith School of Business and Network Solutions and is administered by Rockbridge Associates in Virginia. The Tacoma-Pierce Country Chamber is also collaborating with them to conduct the survey by local business owners locally. You can take it at your convenience until 3 September. Why should you?

Taking the survey does two important things. Firstly, the fourteen-question survey immediately gives you your business scores in the six dimensions mentioned above – that alone would help you to better focus your efforts to improve success. There are also additional questions about your use of technology as well as the ease of doing business “here.”

Secondly, your responses will provide the basis for a report to be submitted to local chambers of commerce, local governments and other agencies, which will help them better target and develop programs to help business owners like yourself. One of those resources is currently being developed in the community via the Puget Sound American Marketing Association – to identify the marketing community and provide a means to assist small business owners in this critical area.

Your voice and responses are important to you and others – take the survey today!

Guest Blogger: Merl Simpson, Associate Professor of Marketing
School of Business, Pacific Lutheran University

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Smith Talks With Leadership Grads

This morning, Cong. Adam Smith met with graduates of the Chamber's Leadership classes to discuss current national and local issues.

Prime in the interchange were the economy and health care, a complex intertwined set of issues. 

Smith stated the greatest challenge is with the economy:  adding jobs and growing the economy, which he said has been beset with structural problems because we all fell in love with debt and easy credit, largely based on a housing bubble and speculation.  Smith focused on three issue areas:  energy, health care and tax policy. The political leadership has advanced programs on energy and health care, but the nation's tax policy is still dragging down our businesses competitive posture. 

Smith acknowledged that there are aspects of the recent health care reform legislation that need to be fixed.  He said Congress will revisit health care next year.  But, he offered, many are happy with the present (prior to health care reform passage) system, especially as business pays a sizable portion of the cost. 

As for the economy, Smith noted that the world has changed.  The US is no longer able to dominate the world economy; it is now in a competitive environment.  Smith disagrees with those who blame our present poor economy on having allowed foreign access to our domestic market, and spoke favorably about the proposed Free Trade Agreements with Korea and Colombia. But, he concedes we need to better our workforce's education and our competitive capabilities.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Shoreline Update Update

Community action - especially input from affected shoreline businesses and associated industry - is having an effect on Tacoma's Shoreline Update.

Last week, Tacoma Planner Stephen Atkinson met again with the Chamber's Shorelines Task Force to discuss newer aspects of a draft Update, revised given community input.  Once scheduled for release in November, the preliminary draft is now targeted for release as early as this week, or following the next Tacoma Planning Commission meeting.  Look for notices (and the Chamber will post the link when available).

There was a robust discussion among members and Atkinson as to what to expect.  Atkinson did ask that we all read the new draft when it comes out as he said the City has worked to be responsive to community input on issues and technical corrections. 

Nonetheless, expect an inclusion of a more enhance public access implementation policy.  Several members asked Atkinson as to the Washington Department of Ecology's (DOE) requirement for increased public access, given the miles of publicly accessible shoreline Tacoma now has?  It is safe to say that the City feels a need to enhance public access given DOE direction, even if that direction may be more applicable to other jurisdictions. 

For now, expect the public process to continue until April 2011, until final action by the Tacoma City Council, and submittal to DOE for its acceptance review process.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Korean Ambassador To Visit

The U.S.-Korea Partnership: Growing Jobs Across America tour was featured on the front page of the Washington Post today after Washington Post writer Howard Schneider accompanied the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in a series successful forums about the benefits of the KORUS FTA in the Midwest last week.

The nationwide U.S.-Korea Partnership tour is being organized by the TradeRoots Program at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the U.S.-Korea Business Council, in partnership with local chambers, associations, and companies across the country. Please see this link for the article: South Korea Free Trade Pact Back on U.S. Agenda

Friday, August 13, 2010

Tell Us!

Tell us how easy or how hard it is to do business in our region -- take our survey!

Today’s uncertain business climate certainly doesn’t help your bottom line. But maybe there are some things our region can do to help your business be more successful….or at least help get rid of some of the hassles of doing business.

You are invited to participate in an online survey to measure the Small Business Success Index for Tacoma and Pierce County. Our Chamber as well as other area chambers of commerce and businesses associations through Pierce County have joined together to offer this opportunity for businesses to “speak out” about our local business environment.

Businesses will get their own individual rating for a Small Business Success Index and through their participation will determine the Small Business Success Index for Tacoma and Pierce County.

The deadline has been extended to Friday, September 3rd, in deference to the current vacation season.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Bridge to the Beach

On Thursday, September 2, the North Dock Overpass will be open to the public. The overpass will provide pedestrians with a path to safely cross the railroad tracks in order to reach a section of the Puget Sound shoreline that has never been open to public access.

The Chamber supported the efforts to get funding for this “bridge to the beach”, with the idea that the bridge will be an additional attraction to draw people to Pierce County and be a community asset.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

I-1082 Creates Economic Advantages

The Business Examiner reports the Office of Financial Management predicts an economic upturn in the state's economy and revenue if Initiative 1082 passes in November.

The Chamber supports privatization and competition in the workers' compensation insurance market and urges Chamber members to vote for I-1082. More from the Business Examiner below:

"A state government report indicates a vibrant competitive market for workers' compensation insurance would be created if voters approve Initiative 1082.

"The Office of Financial Management released its Fiscal Impact Statement yesterday analyzing Initiative 1082 as part of the state Voters' Guide process.
OFM predicts private insurers would acquire slightly more than half of the workers' compensation market by 2014 as businesses flee the existing state-run monopoly. With a reduced case load, "… state expenditures for claims costs will correspondingly decrease," according to the report.

"The report estimates 320 insurers and as many as 500 insurance agents and brokers would ultimately be licensed by the state to sell workers' compensation insurance if private competition is allowed. That new business activity is expected to generate at least $20 million in annual tax revenue to support the state's general fund budget. "

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Business Working Together

Business leadership organizations around Pierce County are working together.

The Puyallup/Sumner Chamber, the Fife Milton Edgewood Chamber, Gig Harbor Peninsula Chamber and the Lakewood Chamber have joined efforts with the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber and its South County and University Place-Fircrest divisions.  The Master Builders Assn. of Pierce County, the Tacoma-Pierce County Assn. of Realtors and the Tacoma Downtown Merchants Group are also part of the coalition.  The Economic Development Board for Tacoma-Pierce County and the City of Tacoma are involved too.

All these groups are working together encouraging their businesses to help determine the local environment for business and to assess their own business success index. The effort will lead to goals improving our business community. If you wish to be a part of this survey both for the good of the community and to assess your own business, take the survey!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Business Leaders Join Chamber Board

Eleven new and returning directors were declared elected at the July Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber’s Board Meeting.

The newly-elected directors will serve three-year terms. The Board of Directors is the policy-making body of the Chamber and lends support to Chamber functions and activities throughout the year.

The Chamber welcomes the following new Directors:

Newly Nominated:

Frank Bauer
Vice President of Advertising
The News Tribune

Mimi Haley
Executive Director of Government Programs & Community Benefits
Group Health Cooperative

John Parrott
Totem Ocean Trailer Express, Inc.

Doug Smith
Operations Vice President
State Farm Insurance Company

Tom Stocks
Vice President and Treasurer
Weyerhaeuser Real Estate Company


Jeff Brown

Lance Hungerford
Round Table Pizza

Steve Maxwell

Joanna Monroe
Vice President Deputy General Council of Chief Compliance Office
TrueBlue, Inc.

Dr. Patricia Spakes
University of Washington Tacoma

Elizabeth Warman
Manager Local Government Relations
The Boeing Company

Also, Steven Harlow, Private Client Advisor for Bank of America, was appointed to a vacancy on the Chamber Board.

Measuring (Your) Small Business Success

What’s your success factor compared to other businesses nationwide?

Tacoma-Pierce County businesses are invited to participate in an online survey to measure their individual success as compared to businesses nationwide.

Businesses will get their own individual rating for a Small Business Success Index and through their participation will determine the Small Business Success Index for Tacoma and Pierce County.

The survey will also focus on the business climate to determine how supportive the local environment is for business success. The Tacoma-Pierce Co. Chamber along with chambers of commerce and business associations throughout Pierce County have joined together offering this opportunity to improve their own businesses and define the local business environment.

The survey will be live until Saturday, August 14, 2010.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Sound Sound PSAMA Chapter Convenes

Marketeers! Join together for happy hour at the first Puget Sound Marketing Association (PSAMA) South Sound Social! Reconnect with friends, make new marketing contacts and enjoy $5 appetizers and half-price wine from the Harmon Tap Room.
Chat with marketing professionals from local businesses, universities and PSAMA about all things marketing!

Thursday, August 19
5:00 – 7:00 p.m.
Harmon Tap Room
24 St. Helens, Tacoma 98402

A South Sound AMA is forming in Tacoma area in collaboration with PSAMA to give marketing professionals in the South Sound a place to network closer to home and/or work.

This first ever event is open to everyone. You don’t have to be a PSAMA member. Register!

PSAMA members residing/working in the South Sound area have indicated difficulty to travel to Seattle for monthly luncheons and other networking events (time required), but they enjoy the benefits of PSAMA. These late afternoon/evening sessions will hopefully give them an alternative, providing an opportunity to meet more casually closer to work or home.

PSAMA South Sound is starting out as a social to gather interested members and discuss what would be most beneficial to them.  Future events are envisioned (the next being in September).

About PSAMA South Sound:
Locals marketing professionals are working in close partnership with PSAMA to provide the benefits of AMA to the South Sound.  PSAMA hosts monthly luncheons and other social/networking events for marketing professionals in Seattle and Bellevue, as well as the annual MarketSmart conference in spring.

About PSAMA:
With a history that spans over 35 years, the PSAMA is the largest and oldest professional marketing association in Washington State. Their mission: to promote and advance the marketing profession and industry in Western Washington.

They are committed to excellence in marketing while creating a strong community among local marketing professionals through regular, relevant programming for marketers at all levels. Through the events the current members (more than 500!) have excellent opportunities for networking, access to current and evolutionary marketing methods, and a place to exchange ideas.

Learn more about PSAMA here.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Chamber Recommendations on Ballot Issues

The Chamber’s recommendations for the ballot issues are below. These recommendations were adopted by the Chamber’s Board based on the initiatives and referendum’s impact to businesses.

Support these initiatives:
  • I-1053: Restore 2/3rds vote of legislature to raise taxes.
  • I-1082: Ending state monopoly on workers' compensation.
  • I-1100: Free market for liquor sales.
  • I-1107: Repeal tax increases on candy, soda, gum.
Oppose these initiatives and referendum:
  • I-1098: State income tax for individual income over $200K.
  • I-1105: Limited open market for retail liquor sales.
  • R-52:   Extend state's tax on bottled water to fund schools construction.
Vote on the straw poll on this blog about each of these ballot issues (column left).

Monday, August 2, 2010

New Port Element in Tacoma's Comp Plan

Thursday marked the initial public outreach to businesses in the port-industrial area as Tacoma prepared its planning compliance with a new state mandate.

The briefing, presented to a mostly-full room at the Fabulich Center by Tacoma, Port of Tacoma and consultants, most immediately sought input on the proposed study area and identifying freight corridors.

Among comments voiced generally or around the displays (repeated in the PowerPoint) were:
  • The Study Area should include the grain terminal, rail yard and Sperry Ocean
  • The Study Area should include anchorages
  • The E. Foss Peninsula (as acknowledged) has freight corridor and local area infrastructure needs
Stressed during the give and take of questions was that this process is different from the contemporary Shoreline Update by Tacoma.  The Shoreline Update effects an area from the ordinary high water mark for 200 feet inland.  This New Port Element effects a defined core area of the port industrial area and related industrial uses.  Both will be added to Tacoma's Comprehensive Land Use Plan.

Also noted was that coordination is underway with Fife and the Puyallup Tribe. 
For more information and contact, email Ian Munce (City) or 253-573-2478 and Kell McAboy (Port) or 253-592-6217.