Friday, June 5, 2009

Rep. Phyllis Gutierrez Kenney to serve on gov's aerospace council

Yesterday, Governor Gregoire announced the fourteen members who will "oversee state efforts to ensure that Washington remains the leading location in the world in which airplanes are designed and built."
The Governor established the Washington Council on Aerospace based on recommendations after a competitiveness report was released in April.
Among the fourteen serving on the council is Rep. Phyllis Gutierrez Kenney who chairs the House Community and Economic Development and Trade Committee.
“The aerospace industry is a vital component for our state’s economic foundation. It is important for us to maintain a state-of-the-art workforce at all levels of the aerospace industry to promote economic development and growth while also retaining the companies providing quality, family-wage jobs,” Kenney says.

“I want to thank the Governor for her stewardship and foresight in organizing this council of stakeholders who will make things happen for the aerospace industry in Washington State.”

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Driscoll named Business Star for 2009 legislative work

The Washington State House of Representatives has a new business champion – Rep. John Driscoll of Spokane.

At a Tuesday luncheon, the Business Institute of Washington honored five legislators for their work during the 2009 legislative session.

“Their work in support of a strong private sector during this year’s legislative session, with their keen recognition that a healthy business community creates jobs and fuels Washington’s economic,” said the group in a press release.

"Legislators were evaluated on their ability to support and champion good, pro-business legislation that will ultimately benefit the economy, particularly in these difficult economic times.”

Driscoll supported and voted for numerous business measures, and also sponsored several bills to support a stronger health care industry.

“Without a robust health care sector, we cannot achieve our goals of improved quality of care and access to medical care,” Driscoll said. “In health care and other areas, we need balanced solutions that work for everyone, and that will continue to be my focus.”

Are they, or aren't they, mooring on Mystery Bay?

The mooring buoys are there but is there a boat mooring there?

That question is at the heart of an issue threatening the livelihood of a shellfish harvester on Mystery Bay.

Mystery Bay is a beautiful spot located across from Marrowstone Island in Jefferson County. It is a place where boaters who are heading to the San Juans often make a final stop on their way to the islands.

It is also home to a shellfish harvester that has been in business for about 100 years. This business employs between 50-100 people, and this is their busiest time of year. However, the state Department of Health is under pressure to close the bay to shellfish harvesting because of pressure from the Food and Drug Administration.

The FDA says there are too many boats mooring in the bay which presents a health danger because of the discharge from the boats.

But that might not be the case. The issue appears to be that the number of mooring buoys in Mystery Bay indicates a higher level of boat activity than there actually is. In fact, some of the mooring buoys are actually abandoned.

One solution might be that if the abandoned mooring buoys are removed, the FDA will stop pressuring the state Department of Health to close the bay to shellfish harvesting, and the jobs can be saved.

That's why the Department of Health is hosting a public meeting in coordination with the Jefferson County Department of Community Development, Washington's Department of Natural Resources, State Parks and the Pacific Coast Shellfish Growers Association.

Rep. Kevin Van De Wege is attending the June 15 meeting because he supports having DNR create a more simplified, streamlined process for permitting of buoys, as well as a solution for removal of the ones that are abandoned. The goal is to save jobs and also allow limited mooring of boats in such a beautiful location.

We're not just high-tech, but really really really high-tech

The Seattle metropolitan area has zoomed past Boston to become the nation's second-leading high-tech center, according to a new ranking of 393 regions in North America's High-Tech Economy.

Seattle's rank was surpassed only by Silicon Valley in "North America’s High-Tech Economy: The Geography of Knowledge-Based Industries," a study of 19 high-tech business indicators released on June 3 by the Milken Institute.

As the Puget Sound Business Journal summarized:
Using data from 2007, the study indicates that the high-tech industry provided $22.3 billion in wages in the Seattle-Bellevue-Everett area and employed 226,000 people in 2007. In the sub-category of software publishing, the Seattle area ranked No. 1 nationally, with that high-tech industry employing 46,318 people who earned wages of more than $7 billion in 2007. Seattle also ranked high in the aerospace product and parts manufacturing sub-category, with 76,148 people earning $6.69 billion in 2007.
The high-tech ranking is good news for the state economy, for as the Milken Institute study reports,"Cities with strong high-tech bases will perform best as the economy recovers because the jobs generated by these fields pay so well."

A separate report released Wednesday by the U.S. Census Department showed that Washington has the third highest Internet usage in the United States, trailing only Alaska and New Hampshire.

Hey! Didn't we read something about this high-tech-stuff-good-for-Washington-economy-stuff yesterday?

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Washington an economic "early riser"

"If you want to be in the right place when the recovery starts, that place may be in Colorado, Idaho, Oregon, Texas or Washington."

Those aren't our words, but the words of Bill Dedman from who reports that our strong high-tech industry will help us be one of the first states to recover from the recession. He says the first wave of "early riser" states are predicted to see job growth start in the fourth quarter of this year.

This follows the preliminary forecast released last week by our state's chief economist, Arun Raha, who also predicts the state's economy will start to turn around late this year.

Tolling discussions continue

The Joint Transportation Committee has a packed agenda for today's meeting about tolling, including tolling on SR 520. The committee also met last week. posted an article yesterday looking at the expanded role tolling is likely to take in funding our state's roads. The article includes an interview with State Treasurer Jim McIntire who says "
the notion that we're going to be able to continue to finance projects with gas taxes just doesn't survive in today's economy."

The article nicely summarizes some of the disagreements about whether creating a regional network of tolled corridors is the most effective way to fund our system and manage traffic. The article's comments reveal, at the very least, that while some citizens are all for it, plenty of skeptics remain.

For anyone wanting to listen in to the meeting, it looks like TVW will air the meeting on Friday at 4.