NW BUSINESS CONFERENCE & EXPO OCT. 25TH
MR. DOWNTOWN Bob Hall, helps revitalize Bellingham business.
MAGAZINE FALL 2017
$1.4 BILLION INDUSTRY
Innovative Agribusiness More than just crops and cows Why the Nov. 7 election is imperative?
The Northwest Plant Company lab and its cutting-edge berry R&D represents local Agribusiness opportunity
lead environmental stewardship by example Meet the Professional Business Women of the Year Finalists The Publication of The Whatcom Business Alliance
Invest Sustainably, Globally. Saturna Sustainable Bond Fund (Ticker: SEBFX) The first global fixed-income, integrated ESG mutual fund.
Saturna Sustainable Equity Fund (Ticker: SEEFX) A global equity, integrated ESG mutual fund. Learn more about our unique approach: www.saturnasustainable.com
The Lightcatcher Building at the Whatcom Museum, located in Bellingham, WA, is the first museum in Washington State to meet LEED Silver-Level specifications.
Please consider an investment’s objectives, risks, charges and expenses carefully before investing. For this and other important information about the Saturna Sustainable Bond Fund, please obtain and carefully read a free prospectus or summary prospectus from www.saturna.com or by calling toll-free 1-800-728-8762. Investing involves risk, including possible loss of principal. Generally, an investment that offers a higher potential return will have a higher risk of loss. Stock prices fluctuate, sometimes quickly and significantly, for a broad range of reasons that may affect individual companies, industries, or sectors. When interest rates rise, bond prices fall. When interest rates fall, bond prices go up. A bond fund’s price will typically follow the same pattern. Investments in high-yield securities can be speculative in nature. High-yield bonds may have low or no ratings, and may be considered “junk bonds.” Investing in foreign securities involves risks not typically associated directly with investing in US securities. These risks include currency and market fluctuations, and political or social instability. The risks of foreign investing are generally magnified in the smaller and more volatile securities markets of the developing world. The Saturna Sustainable Funds limit the securities they purchase to those consistent with sustainable principles. This limits opportunities and may affect performance. Distributor: Saturna Brokerage Services, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Saturna Capital Corporation, investment adviser to the Saturna Sustainable Funds. Saturna Capital proudly sponsors occasional events and programs at the Whatcom Museum, but is otherwise unaffiliated with the Museum and the City of Bellingham.
New Bellingham Branch Coming October 2017 1910 Broadway
Burlington 360.707.2272 1854 S. Burlington Boulevard Bellingham 360.685.0080 2417 Meridian Street Suite 104
Freeland 360.331.3717 5575 Harbor Avenue Suite 100 Mount Vernon 360.419.0300 208 East Blackburn Suite 100
Oak Harbor 360.720.2202 390 NE Midway Blvd B-107 Anacortes Loan Production 360.755.3436 1015 14th St Suite B
7/28/17 1:52 PM
TABLE OF CONTENTS
is homey-casual before his desk of repurposed wood at 2020 Engineering where he envisions the latest in low-impact, restorative design concepts. (Photo courtesy of 2020 Engineering)
‘2020’ VISION IN 1994 COMES TO FRUITION FOR MARK & JESSIE BUERHER ALL OVER THE WORLD
BOOM!-TOWN: NO DOWNTURN FOR DOWNTOWN… RATHER, IT’S A BIT OF A REDUX RENAISSANCE
BELLINGHAM CIVIL ENGINEERING AND LED lighting firms’ latest consults stretch from Bellingham Downtown Waterfront Granary project to Tokyo, Japan, with a Belize-area resort by Leo “Titanic” DiCaprio in between. Mark carved a leading-edge niche before ‘green building’ was a phrase, and he leads the LEEDers.
LOCAL COMPANIES FIND MANY PATHS TO ENVIRO-CONSCIENTIOUSNESS REUSED EQUIPMENT AVOIDS LANDFILL. Centralized dispatch easier on roads. Toxic-free cleaning. Weed abatement. Local sourcing makes less travel. Toward Zero Waste (TZW). Whatcom Smart Trips. Doing their all to eliminate carbon footprint.
WHEN SOME FORMER LONGTIME Bellingham companies closed their doors, it left one to wonder if a trend had set in. Quite the contrary. Thanks to some spiffy internal do-overs of old, old Bellingham buildings by Bob Hall, and enough uptick in the economy to inspire some new companies to open, the city center is alive and well.
GUEST COLUMNS: WASHINGTON POLICY CENTER WONKS WEIGH IN MEATY FOOD FOR THOUGHT addresses state income tax (illegal), state travel tax (illogical), state mandated benefits (ill effects), and trifling attempts to thwart climate change (ill conceived). With a little agribusiness analysis thrown in for good measure.
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TABLE OF CONTENTS
ON THE COVER: AREA AGRIBUSINESS MAKES $1.4 BILLION IMPACT RICH AGRICULTURAL LANDS, farms, and service companies scattered around Whatcom County and its municipalities add up to a huge plus for the local economy, and a huge pain for state legislators and regulators.
46 & 50
COVER SERIES: AGRIBUSINESS IMPACT DWARFS PREVIOUS FARMGATE #'S
THE AGGREGATE AGRIBUSINESS IMPACT – comprising all farms of every type, and all agricultural service providers, suppliers, and manufacturers is revealed in a new study commissioned by the Whatcom Business Alliance. The results offer a new look at the value of this important local industry.
NO-GROWTH COSTLY… AND, FUTURE LIES IN YOUR HANDS OUR RESIDENT ANALYST OF LOCAL ISSUES, Jim McKinney, delineates how a no-growth approach to the county leads to withering job opportunity (except for government jobs, a liability). And, Jim digs into how your vote carries the weight for desired change.
A STARK CONTRAST IN CANDIDATES PUTS PORT AT A CROSSROADS IN ’17 ELECTION SOME CANDIDATES TRY TO DE-POLITICIZE THE CAMPAIGN for two empty seats on the threeperson governing commission. If special interests and political parties prevail, this could be a tipping point for the Port’s designated economic development role.
WHO WILL REIGN AS THE WHATCOM PROFESSIONAL WOMAN OF THE YEAR? WHATCOM WOMEN IN BUSINESS CONTINUES ITS LONG RUN of selecting the award winner out of six shining-star finalists and college scholarship recipients. And they don’t skimp on the social factor at the banquet either….
For editorial comments and suggestions, please write firstname.lastname@example.org. Business Pulse Magazine is the publication of the Whatcom Business Alliance. The magazine is published at 2423 E. Bakerview Rd., Bellingham, WA 98226. (360) 746-0418. The yearly subscription rate is $22 (US). For a free digital subscription, go to businesspulse.com or whatcombusinessalliance. com. Entire contents copyrighted © 2017– Business Pulse Magazine. All rights reserved. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Business Pulse Magazine, 2423 E Bakerview Rd., Bellingham, WA 98226.
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Publisher Tony Larson Managing Editor Maggie Stafford Editor Mike McKenzie Feature Writers Tamara Anderson-Loucks Cheryl Stritzel McCarthy Mike McKenzie Jim McKinney Mary Louise Van Dyke Guest Columnists Madilynne Clark Mariya Frost
Todd Myers Jason Mercier Erin Shannon Dr. Roger Stark Cover Photo Brian Beadle Photography Cheryl Stritzel McCarthy Mike McKenzie Courtesy Photos 2020 Engineering & LED Lighting Arch Nexus Architects Bellingham Cold Storage Best Recycling
Enfield Farms Peter James Photography Katheryn Moran Photography Port of Bellingham Regenis Washington Policy Center Whatcom Family Farmers Graphic Design/Layout Kevin Baier Ad Sales Jon Strong Subcriptions Michelle Dahl Administration Danielle Larson
BP works with
Mills Electric BP Cherry Point Refinery Vendor Bellingham, Washington
When BP goes to work in Washington, so do other local businesses. To keep our operations running, we spent over $235 million with more than 700 businesses last year on everything from construction to lab services to uniforms. Add it all up and we support more than 6,300 local jobs through our vendors here. For more on how BP is supporting local Washington businesses, go to bp.com/Washington
Figures from BPâ€™s 2016 Economic Impact Report
The Whatom Business Alliance is a member organization created to enhance Whatcom Countyâ€™s quality of life through the preservation The Alliance is a member organization created to andWhatom creationBusiness of healthy businesses and good jobs. We encourage, enhance Whatcom qualityon ofbehalf life through the preservation support, facilitateCountyâ€™s and advocate of local companies in and creation ofwho healthy businesses good jobs. every industry are working toand retain jobs; andWe areencourage, interested facilitate and advocate behalfcompanies of local companies inin insupport, expanding their operations andon startup interested every industry who locating are working to retain jobs; and are interested in our community. in expanding their operations and startup companies interested in locating in our community.
Whatcom Business Alliance Business Alliance FacilitatingWhatcom Business Success and Community Prosperity Facilitating Business Prosperity & Community Prosperity Facilitating Business Success and Community Prosperity whatcombusinessalliance.com Facilitating Business Prosperity & Community Prosperity whatcombusinessalliance.com
Pam Brady Director Pam Brady NW Govt. and Public Affairs Director BP Cherry Point NW Govt. and Public Affairs BP Cherry Point
John Huntley President/CEO JohnElectric, Huntley Mills Inc. President/CEO Mills Electric, Inc.
Board Chair Jane Carten Board Chair President/Director Jane Carten Saturna Capital President/Director
BOARD OF DIRECTORS Saturna Capital
Doug Thomas President/CEO Doug BellinghamThomas Cold Storage President/CEO
Marv Tjoelker Partner/Chairman Marv Gross Tjoelker Larson PLLC Partner/Chairman
Bellingham Cold Storage
Larson Gross PLLC
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Ken Bell President Ken Bell Best Recycling President
Janelle Bruland President/CEO Janelle Bruland Management Services NW President/CEO
Tyler Byrd President/CEO Tyler Interactive Byrd Red Rokk President/CEO
Jeremy Carroll Vice President Jeremy Carroll Dawson Construction Vice President
Andy Enfield Vice President Andy Enfield Enfield Farms Vice President
Management Services NW
Red Rokk Interactive
Ben Kinney President/CEO KinneyNVNTD KellerBen Williams, President/CEO Keller Williams, NVNTD
Jeff Kochman President Jeff Kochman AMBK President AMBK
Tony Larson President Tony LarsonAlliance Whatcom Business President Whatcom Business Alliance
Sandy Keathley Founder Sandy Keathley K & K Industries Founder K & K Industries
Tom Kenney Regional President Tom Kenney Washington Federal Regional President Washington Federal
Laura McKinney NW Govt. Affairs Laura McKinney & Public Relations NW Govt. Affairs Alcoa & Public Relations Alcoa
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Lynn Murphy Senior Local Govt. Affairs LynnSound Murphy Puget Energy Senior Local Govt. Affairs
Becky Raney Owner/CO O Becky Raney Print & Copy Factory Owner/CO O
Sarah Rothenbuhler Owner/CEO Sarah Rothenbuhler Birch Equipment Owner/CEO
Puget Sound Energy
Print & Copy Factory
Billy VanZanten Josh Wright CEO VP/Broker BillyRefinery VanZanten Josh Wright Western Services Bell Anderson Insurance CEO VP/Broker Not pictured: Guy Jansen, Director Lynden Transport, Inc. Western Refinery Services Bell Anderson Insurance Not pictured: Guy Jansen, Director Lynden Transport, Inc.
Business Banking Equipment Finance Treasury Management Multi-Family Income Property Home Builder Finance
“After 70 years with the same lending institution, Bellingham Cold Storage recently conducted a formal search for a new primary bank. Our CFO, Brad Flinn and I interviewed extensively several very qualified firms and ultimately selected Washington Federal primarily because their team was the most closely aligned with our core values.”
For common-sense solutions, sound strategy and trusted advice, call today.
— Doug Thomas President & Chief Executive Officer Bellingham Cold Storage
Jonathan Ensch VP/Relationship Manager
360-255-2821 Tom Kenney
Northern Washington Regional President
LEADING OFF Tony Larson | President, Whatcom Business Alliance The Whatcom Business Alliance is a member organization made up of businesses of every size and shape, from every industry. The WBA enhances the quality of life throughout Whatcom County by promoting a healthy business climate that preserves and creates good jobs.
Apparently doing the right thing is just not enough How to protect your business against, unwanted, uninformed demonstrators
n Aug. 24 a group of demonstrators called #nodapl (No Dakota Access Pipeline), or a.k.a. Red Line Salish Sea, unlawfully entered the offices of Puget Sound Energy (PSE) in downtown Bellingham and intimidated their customers and employees for more than 40 minutes. If they were informed, and were consistent with their stated goals of preserving and protecting the environment, they should have been applauding PSE’s efforts. They were protesting PSE’s natural gas line serving their liquefied natural gas (LNG) facility that will provide the shipping company, Tote, with LNG fuel. Tote will replace bunker diesel fuel with LNG for their entire fleet. The LNG facility will eliminate 160,00 tons of toxic air pollutants emitted from the fuels used today. In comparison to the bunker diesel fuel currently being used by Tote, the LNG-powered ships will reduce harmful pollutants in our air and water by over 90 percent, according to a report published in the Tacoma News-Tribune. As energy demands increase, LNG should be a preferred option for moving more goods while cutting emissions. 10 | BUSINESSPULSE.COM
As it turns out, LNG is one of the fuels the current Whatcom County Council wrongly included in its definition of unrefined fossil fuels in the moratorium on fossil fuel exports from the Cherry Point Industrial UGA. The WBA is concerned that this moratorium adversely affects the businesses within the Cherry Point UGA to operate competitively in their respective industries, ultimately impacting the ability of the companies in the Cherry Point UGA to provide long-term jobs in our community. This moratorium impacts many, but distinctly disadvantages the two Whatcom County oil refineries vs. their competitors. We think these are important community issues that need a thoughtful discussion. A growing number of agitators disagree. We all saw the headlines regarding the group of protestors that blocked I-5 and caused the collision and injury of a Whatcom County resident. A few months ago a group of demonstrators unlawfully entered the lobby of a US Bank in downtown Bellingham with the purpose to disrupt and intimidate. With the increase in both frequency and intensity of demonstrations by a variety of civic and social justice groups in Whatcom County, the Whatcom Business Alliance (WBA) invited representatives of the Bellingham Police Department to provide a presentation at its September board meeting to discuss the rights of a business in the event
of an unwanted demonstration. The meeting was informative and insightful. The biggest takeaway from the meeting from my perspective was that business owners need to be prepared to instruct law enforcement to remove the individuals from the premises. And, to be prepared to have them prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law when they trespass on private property. If there are no consequences, every business is a target. Without the cooperation and commitment of the business owner, law enforcement can only act if demonstrators cause physical harm or engage in destruction of property. Bellingham Patrol Lt. Don Almer, a 22-year veteran who has served in a variety of tactical positions – including the SWAT team, bomb squad, and the civil disturbance unit – explained that criminal trespass is committed when a person enters or remains on another's property without the owner's consent. A person charged with criminal trespass will be arrested, and can be barred from entering the business for a set period of time, or even indefinitely. The length of time is at the business owner’s discretion. Lt. Almer said, “Once granted the authority, we will give the demonstrators the opportunity to leave voluntarily. Many do. Those that don’t, it is then a crime, and we can then forcibly remove them. Without explicit authority from the business to trespass, it would violate the pro-
tester’s civil rights to forcibly remove them from the premises.” Unfortunately, many businesses choose not to initiate criminal trespass proceedings because of concerns about negative press. Often businesses that do initiate trespass proceedings end up dropping the charges because they do not want to participate in the prosecution proceedings. “It can be frustrating, because it takes a lot of time for the crisis disturbance unit to come in and make arrests,” explained Deputy Police Chief Dave Doll. “Then charges get dropped later. There’s no accountability, and it emboldens the protesters. We need your support from arrest through prosecution to make a difference in the long term.” Following are a few suggestions from the Bellingham Police Department: •When you hear of an upcoming protest that could affect your business, hire off-duty police or private security – law enforcement presence can be a deterrent. •If the demonstration remains peaceful and on public property, as a business owner, you are confined to monitoring the situation. •If a demonstration on public property turns violent, report it to the police. •If demonstrators enter private property: Communicate to the group the parameters in which they will be allowed to continue their protest on your property, or demand the protesters leave, and if they do not leave then contact the police. •Send your employees home and/ or close your business to help ensure personal safety of non-protestors. •Act as monitor for your business – keep an eye on protestors, make notes of any person who is acting in a threatening manner or damages property, and report them to police when they arrive. •When the police arrive, you can request they remain on site to monitor the demonstration or request they initiate criminal trespass proceedings.
NW BUSINESS CONFERENCE AND EXPO If you are a business owner, manager, entrepreneur, budding leader, or someone just interested in learning how to do things better, I would strongly encourage you and your leadership team to join us at the NW Business Conference and Expo on Oct. 25. Take a look at the topics and presenters in this edition. All five are successful leaders of top businesses and all have track records of success.
They will share insights, and each will offer direct takeaways that will benefit you and your business. At this conference, the WBA will also make an announcement about new resources available to assist your business, organization, and leadership team in reaching new levels of success. This event is worth sending your leadership team, and anyone else you see as a future leader in your company. It will be good for them and you. We’ll see you there.
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BUSINESS PROFILE: 2020 ENGINEERING
2020 Engineering Pioneers Sustainability and Green Building Movement Nature inspires company founder Mark Buehrerâ€™s vision for sustainable design by Tamara Anderson-Loucks
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Living wall watered by treated greywater. (Photo courtesy Arch Nexus Architects.) WHATCOMBUSINESSALLIANCE.COM | 15
BUSINESS PROFILE: 2020 ENGINEERING
THE RECEPTION DESK in the foreground exemplifies the approach to design at 2020 Engineering and 2020 LED Lighting, whose owners stand behind the desk, Mark and Jessie Buehrer. To wit: Mark explained the details, we used blow down lumber with its natural edges to build the reception desk, and also used it (repurposed wood) in trim work such as window sills. We refinished wood recovered during demolition of some rooms we removed, shaped it, and used it for trim. (Photo courtesy of 2020 Engineering)
passion for nature and a belief that civil infrastructure and design can enhance the environment provided the inspiration for 2020 Engineering, founded in 1995 by Mark Buehrer. And 17 years later Mark and his wife Jessie started LED Lighting. An early adopter of sustainable design and green building, 2020 Engineering in Bellingham pioneered the sustainable construction and low-impact development movement here in the Evergreen State. “When I named the company, 2020 referred to the beneficial impacts I believed sustainable design could have on water and transportation systems by the year 2020,” Buehrer said. 16 | BUSINESSPULSE.COM
Early in his career Buehrer, a professional engineer, worked for the Ohio Department of Transportation. He then moved to Juneau, Alaska, where he helped design the downtown street corridors near the cruise ship dock built for the World’s Fair in 1986. He moved to Bellingham in 1987 and worked as a consultant for land developers and engineering firms. “Over the years I grew frustrated with conventional designs I didn’t think protected the environment or had any visual appeal,” Buehrer said. “Civil engineering impacts what you see, from roadways, bridges, and parks to water and sewer systems. I had a creative bent to my civil engineering vision – an architect’s perspective for creativity in design – and I felt we should use nature as a guide for design, particularly in terms of water and transportation systems.” Buehrer started 2020 as a small-scale company, designing residential projects and small wetlands systems
Example of typical residential cistern to capture rainwater. Cisterns may be a feasible alternative to wells for properties affected by the Hirst decision. (Photo courtesy of 2020 Engineering)
when “sustainability” was not yet part of the language of the era. Today, he said, “Our name has widespread recognition, both in the U.S. and in other countries….” as a civil engineering firm specializing in sustainable, low-impact design.
CHALLENGES OF EARLY ADOPTION At its inception 2020 Engineering was the only civil engineering company in Washington focused on sustainable design, yet, Buehrer said, clients weren’t flocking to its doors. Sustainability, low-impact design, and green building weren’t the
norm in the ‘90s, so it took time to find willing clients for his concepts and grow the company.
“You can now build a LEED Platinum-certified building… at the same cost as conventional construction methods.” –Mark Buehrer, Founder 2020 Engineering/2020 LED Lighting
In the late ‘90s, LEED certification came about, and 2020 Engineering immediately stepped to
the fore of the movement. Buehrer and 2020 were integral to the development of Seattle’s first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)-certified green building. Developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) in 1998, LEED is a national certification system established to encourage the construction of energy- and resource-efficient buildings that are healthy to live and work in. “From there, architects started sharing our name when projects came up that required expertise in sustainability, though that word wasn’t used in the ‘90s,” Buehrer said. “That led to projects throughWHATCOMBUSINESSALLIANCE.COM | 17
BUSINESS PROFILE: 2020 ENGINEERING
2020 ENGINEERING Aquaponics Urban Farming Rendering
From farm-to table in 12 hours or less
Proposed Bellingham Organics would provide organic, locally-grown food year-round If approved, the proposed Bellingham Organics urban aquaponics facility on ugly Bellingham property in disrepair would bring a whole new perspective on “farm-to-table fresh” food. The company would serve up fresh, locallygrown organic fish, vegetables, and herbs harvested in the morning, placed on store shelves by afternoon, and on your table that evening for dinner. Project developer Paul Schissler of Paul Schissler Associates Inc. along with Aquacare Environmental, 2020 Engineering, and Westgate Design|Works – all Whatcom County businesses – designed this urban aquaculture facility with the intent of providing an energy-efficient means to grow and supply organic foods locally. The state-of-the-art complex would feature a 40,000-square-foot, solar-powered commercial greenhouse with a closed-loop aquaponics system, fed by harvested rain water and capable of producing organic food year-round. Mark Buehrer, the founder of 2020 Engineering, said: “The goal is to construct a self-sufficient, net-zero building, which means it runs on solar power and harvests enough rain water to sustain operations, netting zero draw from the energy grid and city water systems. 18 | BUSINESSPULSE.COM
“Aquaponics is a combination of fresh water aquaculture (fish/shrimp – protein production) and hydroponics (growing vegetables, greens, and herbs without soil). The nutrientrich water from the aquaculture tanks is used to irrigate and fertilize the plants, and then the water is recycled back to the fish tanks, which creates a closed-loop system.” The project is currently proposed for construction on Holly Street property that once served as the city dump and is now a remediated brownfield. Project proponents submitted a request to the City of Bellingham to lease the land. Once approved, they can start the permitting process. The developers explained that while they could do this project anywhere, the proposed site would get rid of an eyesore and become a showcase project, exemplifying what could be done on a piece of land that is not feasible for most types of development. “The benefits of this project reach far beyond simply supplying local organic foods to the area,” Schissler said. “It adds to the tax base, provides jobs, offers educational opportunities, and has potential for commercial spinoffs, like packaging. It was conceived as a social venture, providing multi-layer benefits to the broader community.”
out the USA, and eventually internationally as well. Today, 80 percent of our projects are located outside of Whatcom County.” Moving into the 2000s, as acceptance of sustainable design and green building practices continued to grow and technologies developed, permitting did not keep pace with advancements. Buehrer explained why. “Early regulations were put into place to prevent bad designers and builders from doing bad things, because they often caused roadblocks for alternative projects,” he said. “We’ve spent a lot of time working with agencies to help develop new standards that pave the way for sustainable practices and low-impact developments.” As of Jan. 1, 2017, Washington state law requires that developers follow low-impact development standards for all new projects, which, among innumerable benefits, decreases water and energy use.
IT PAYS TO GO GREEN Twenty years ago sustainable building was more expensive and benefits weren’t as recognized as they are now. In the last five years the industry has caught up, and services and construction supplies are affordable. Buehrer says you can now build an LEED, Platinumcertified building – the highest rating for green buildings – at the same cost as conventional construction methods. Buehrer noted that less apprehension exists today for developers and builders, particularly those who retain ownership of their projects, to incorporate sustainable alternatives into creating them. “Some projects realize cost savings on both ends,” he said. “During the construction phase with lower building costs and permitting fees, and afterwards in terms of lower utility bills from reduced energy and water use. “For example, it’s less expensive to build an onsite water treatment system that will recycle the water
back into the same building than to build the mechanical systems to pipe water out to wastewater treatment facilities. Potable water can be filtered and reused. Non-potable can be reused for irrigation.” A prime example among 2020’s projects over time was when Wilson Motors in Bellingham completely
“Early regulations were put into place to prevent bad designers and builders from doing bad things, and they often caused roadblocks for alternative projects. We’ve spent a lot of time working with agencies to help develop new standards that pave the way for sustainable practices and low-impact developments.” –Mark Buehrer, Founder 2020 Engineering/2020 LED Lighting
overhauled its property on Iowa Street several years back. They had to address critical issues next to a stream, Buehrer said. “It used to be at one time an old, contaminated scrap yard,” he said. “We performed a low-impact development (LID).” Rather than design a conventional water treatment system, 2020 incorporated pervious concrete (porous concrete that allows rainwater to soak through), rain gardens, and water fountains into the property design, eliminating the need for a detention pond. By implementing sustainable, low-impact design, the dealership saved over $150,000 in construction costs. “We also included work on Nevada Street, the entry leading into the dealership,” Buehrer said. “The project received the
Award for Excellence in Concrete Construction. We’ve done acres and acres of pervious concrete pavements projects at schools and other sites.” Energy-efficient lighting also plays a key role in green building practices, and has benefits beyond lower power bills. Around 2010 when a recession was affecting the economy and the costs of doing business Buehrer read studies that documented how proper lighting increases productivity and the overall health of employees in the workplace. Further research uncovered that Puget Sound Energy (PSE) offered rebates based on energy savings for businesses that used LED lighting. His interest piqued, in 2012 Buehrer and his wife Jessie founded 2020 LED Lighting. “Hospitals, schools, municipalities, and corporations were all realizing the health benefits of good lighting,” Buehrer said. “We recognized there was a good business model there. 2020 LED Lighting was the first U.S.-based company that focused on lighting – both for new construction and retrofits.” Unlike 2020 Engineering, which provides only design and consulting services, 2020 LED Lighting offers both consulting and general contracting services. The company has installed LED lighting systems for several Whatcom County businesses, including a retrofit for the downtown YMCA, the Community Food Co-op, and Dewey Griffin Subaru. Buehrer explained that the LED Lighting cost benefits include an average savings of 80 percent on energy bills, plus recuperation of up to 70 percent of the installation cost through rebates offered by PSE.
THE FUTURE OF SUSTAINABLE BUILDING Over the last 20 years sustainable design and construction has been an ever-evolving industry, with seemingly no limits to where it can go. WHATCOMBUSINESSALLIANCE.COM | 19
BUSINESS PROFILE: 2020 ENGINEERING Buehrer foresees sustainable water systems as a key focus. He said it’s possible to create an efficient infrastructure and building that uses very little water resources by implementing mechanisms like low-flow features, rainwater harvesting systems, and recycling of both potable and non-potable water. Development of sustainable water systems is becoming increasingly important as water rights continue to be a fervent societal, political, and legal issue. A headliner example is the Washington Supreme Court’s Hirst Decision; it requires property owners to prove that not a single drop of water would be diverted from instream flows in order to receive a permit to dig a well on their property, thereby rendering many properties unbuildable. Recently, Buehrer made a presentation for the Whatcom County Council on sustainable water resource management concepts. He illustrated how rainwater catchment systems, rather than wells,
can collect sufficient water to sustain small residential and even large commercial projects. These catchment systems, such as cisterns, make ideal alternatives to wells, he said, which could help property owners whose lands are
“We need to think about sustainability for the long term. From the aesthetics – the enjoyment we can receive – to the health and environmental benefits, because what we do today is what we will leave behind for our children.” –Mark Buehrer, Founder 2020 Engineering/2020 LED Lighting
currently undevelopable under Hirst. He spoke of a property in Skagit County, appearing as undevelopable due to Hirst, that recently received a building permit by sub-
Actor Leo DiCaprio eco-resort among 2020’s global works Articles over the last couple of years have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and elsewhere about what 2020 Engineering founder Mark Buehrer termed “a deep green resort” scheduled to open in January 2028. The resort is on an island near Belize, and Buehrer & Co. are contributing to the project. Actor Leonardo DiCaprio and a partner bought the island for $1.75 million and partnered with architects and designers to create the resort, called Blackadore Caye: A Restorative Island.” The New York Times quoted DiCaprio, “The main focus is to do something that will change the world….groundbreaking in the environmental movement….a showcase for what is possible.” That article said that a stay at the resort would range up to $2,295 a night. On the 2020 dossier of projects, many are in Canada, and others as remote as New Zealand, Belize and Tokyo.
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mitting plans for a rainwater catchment system in lieu of a well. Urban agriculture is also a benefactor of sustainable water systems. Advancements in aquaculture and hydroponics allow the growing of fresh, organic food in new ways – including within commercial buildings, on rooftop gardens, or in the middle of a thriving downtown corridor, Buehrer pointed out. “Today you can walk down a building’s hallway and pick strawberries grown on living walls. As the population grows, and land becomes more scarce, alternative systems to grow food will be imperative,” he said. “Cities will need to grow enough food within city limits to feed its population. “It’s less expensive and takes less energy than to ship food from 5,000 miles away. The U.S. has the ability to develop technologies that can be shared with Third World countries struggling to feed their populations.”
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WHATCOMBUSINESSALLIANCE.COM | 21
INDUSTRY REPORT: AGRIBUSINESS
Tour gives a firsthand look at
Whatcom County Agribusiness By Mary Louise Van Dyke
Whatcom Business Alliance members, State and County officials along with Whatcom Family Farmers guests take a behind the scenes look at Edaleen Dairy farm at the August 24th WBA Industry Tour. (Photo courtesy of Peter James Photography)
iant trees provided shade as 85 local leaders gathered recently at Enfield Farms, a massive berry grower and distributor, for the Agribusiness Industry Tour through northern Whatcom County – hosted by the Whatcom Business Alliance (WBA) in conjunction with Whatcom Family Farmers. The tour group represented a wide variety of backgrounds among WBA members, the community at-large, and local and state government representatives and candidates. Attendees picnicked on a meal of local foods prepared by Haggen Market Street Catering, and listened to a presentation on the newly-minted Whatcom County Agribusiness Sector Analysis. The study, commissioned by the WBA and compiled by Western Washington University’s Center of Economic and Business Research. Hart Hodges and James McCafferty, from the Center of Economic and Business Research, highlighted the study results. 22 | BUSINESSPULSE.COM
McCafferty started by asking participants how they would define farming. “I really think farming is a broader comprehensive definition than simply growing things,” said Wendy Eickmeyer, a marketing & growth strategist. “Farmers can’t survive without support services. They need appropriate regulations. They need access to market. They need weather – which we can’t really control – and they need each other.” “I think she was tipped off,” McCafferty responded.
DEFINING NUMBERS OF FARMING/ AGRICULTURE JOBS IN WHATCOM COUNTY
Hodges said the study shows how many agriculture jobs exist in Whatcom County – as many as 9,000 in peak seasons – and how farming contributes to employment in the county. Citing figures from the Washington State’s Employment Security Department, Hodges said the data show about 3,200-3,300 farming/agriculture jobs during winter months. “We’re going to end up saying roughly 3,700 jobs, that’s on average year round.” Hodges said. “We know it spikes to 9,000 for a brief
Hart Hodges and James McCafferty of WWU Center for Economic & Business Research present agribusiness study findings to guests of the Whatcom Business Alliance and Whatcom Family Farmers on August 24th in Ferndale. (Photo: Business Pulse staff)
Berry sorting and packing machinery fabricated by Andgar Corp in Lynden., is vital to producing a Premium frozen berry packaged product at Enfield Farms. (Photo: Business Pulse Staff)
period in the summer.” He said that figure doesn’t include teenaged berry pickers, for example. He asked listeners to consider if those numbers should include the indirect jobs that farmers support, such as financing, feed, and equipment retailers, but don’t involve working directly on the farm. Adding those numbers in nudges Whatcom agribusiness employment totals up over 5,900 year-round, on average.
VIEWING AGRIBUSINESSES OF NORTHERN WHATCOM COUNTY
LAWMAKERS AND FARMING REGULATIONS
The study’s authors wrote that problems might arise because regulators don’t understand farming or how combinations of regulations “can be problematic together (if not contradictory).” Dan Robbins, the incumbent District I Port Commissioner up for reelection, said his extended family owns and runs Hama Hama Company, an oyster and tree farm in western Washington. “Farming is so important, especially for this community,” Robbins said. “I’m here to learn what the challenges are in farming today and what I, as port commissioner, can do to help.”
The tour route highlighted agribusinesses in the area around Lynden. The tour group rode in buses provided by Bellair Charters, a local service transportation provider. They saw corn growing tall, bushes clad with raspberries and blueberries, potato mounds, and the cows that produce premium dairy products. In one field a farmer was shooting liquid manure onto a field to fertilize the growing crops. Tour guide Larry Stap of Twin Brook Creamery in Lynden said using manure is part of farming. “Manure is the soil amendment of choice for ground. It’s highest in nutrients.”
LIFE’S THE BERRIES AT ENFIELD FARMS
Enfield Farms’ origins go back to 1977 when Marvin and Linda Enfield tackled the challenge of growing raspberries on 80 acres. In the 1980s, the couple added blueberries to their offerings. Today more than 1,000 acres on the farm also includes a bulk and retail packing plant and the Northwest Plant Company (NPC), a research and development nursery. Enfield certifications include Good Agricultural Practices (GAP), a voluntary audit that verifies that WHATCOMBUSINESSALLIANCE.COM | 23
INDUSTRY REPORT: AGRIBUSINESS the grower adheres to USDA standards for minimizing microbial food safety hazards. Andy Enfield, vice president at Enfield Farms and the couple’s son, helps oversee the operations. “We started the nursery because we were looking for better (disease-free) raspberry nursery stock,” Enfield said. Originally a root nursery growing plants in the field, today NPC developed numerous varieties of plug plants through by partnering with the New
Zealand Institute for Plant & Food Research.(That institute was formed in 2008 through a merger of New Zealand horticultural research institutes and Crop & Food Research.) The on-farm breeding program focuses on fruit quality, disease resistance, and machine harvesting ability for raspberries, blackberries, cranberries, boysenberries, and potatoes. The seedlings are evaluated at NPC’s laboratory and the plants propagated by reproduction in the greenhouses.
“We consider this farming because it’s just another extension of the farming we’re doing,” Enfield said. The farm operates a harvest facility where the freeze and pack. It features a MACS Cooler, an automated system that cools products on pallets. The handlers have to process berries quickly to prevent spoilage, Enfield said. About 500 people work at Enfield during the berry season, and 100 year-round.
BREATHING IN THE DAIRY-AIR AT EDALEEN DAIRY
The tour included a look at Edaleen Dairy, a milk farm launched in 1975 by Ed and Aileen Brandsma with 75 cows. Today, it milks about 1,600 cows for about 47 million pounds of milk a year, and Edaleen has five stores in four county towns featuring its own brand of ice cream, milk, and other convenience items. (Ed Brandsma received the WBA/Business Pulse Lifetime Achievement Award this year.) Mitch Moorlag, the Brandsmas’ son-in-law who is general manager of the operation, led the tour group through Edaleen’s maternity barn, where cows with calf rested and munched hay. One cow had just delivered her calf. The new mother, with a sprinkling of black spots on her white coat, and baby covered with large black splotches, turned their heads to stare curiously at the group. Today about 1,600 white-andblack Holsteins supply the milk for the Edaleen products they sell at the five retail stores and distribute to retailers along the eastern Puget Sound. To annually produce that 47 million pounds of milk, the cows consume about 200,000 pounds of feed per every day, Moorlag said. The end result contributes to creamy, high-demand products such as ice cream cupcakes and Ellenos Real Greek Yogurt (some Edaleen stores have a yogurt-by-the cup bar). Moorlag told of the part of the company culture and mission that has the Brandsmas giving back to the community by supporting youth sports teams, parades, local organi24 | BUSINESSPULSE.COM
zations, and reaching afar by supporting construction of a dairy farm in Uganda.
WON THE FARM
The motor coach tour veered past the guide’s farm, Twin Brook Creamery on Double Ditch Road on the north edge of Lynden. In
hot weather the dairy’s Jersey cows prefer staying inside the barn with fans blowing fresh air, Larry Stap said, and in evenings “the girls” graze out in the pasture. Twin Brook has developed a reputation based on an old-fashioned method – bottled, cream-top milk – and some legendary special-
ties, chocolate milk and seasonal egg nog. The creamery uses neither synthetic hormones, nor commercial fertilizer, pesticides, or herbicides in the pasture fields and grass fields harvested for the cows’ feed, according to the Twin Brook website.
Photo courtesy of WFF
A study recently completed by WWU's Center for Economic and Business Research pegs the impact of agribusiness in Whatcom County at $1.4 billion, substantially larger than previous farmgate numbers.
Other figures related to jobs and wages also revealed interesting insights into a beleaguered industry sector that has caused farmers and friends much consternation over issues like water rights, land use, regulations, State Supreme Court decisions, and more. (Other stories for another day.) The Whatcom County Agribusiness Sector Analysis commissioned by the Whatcom Business Alliance answers many open-ended questions about the role that agribusiness plays in the county’s economy. The report was compiled by Western Washington University’s Center for Economic and Business Research (CEBR). Data highlighted in a late-summer presentation of the study include the numbers of jobs and the wages earned on the farm and in food production, and also reveals figures on employment and wages related to businesses supported by the farm-related businesses and their workers. Farming, as defined in the study, refers to crop production, raising livestock, and related services. In 2012, state numbers show Whatcom County had 1,702 farms occupying 115,831 acres, or an average size farm of 68 acres. Small, diversified farms offer a variety of benefits, the report indicates, but in some cases growing crops can be
A defining moment in agribusiness economic impact on Whatcom County
more expensive on small farms in comparison with larger farms where investing in labor-saving machinery, more advanced technology, and specialized management show less costly results in per-unit production. The study estimates that agribusiness sales revenue for Whatcom County has topped $1.4 billion. This figure considers these factors: $276 million in agribusiness wages; gross sales of $613-$690 million, and gross sales in food processing and at businesses related to farming. Whatcom County has 3,749 annual jobs in agribusiness, on average (fluctuating by seasonal employment). Those jobs rely on indirect support from industries such as transportation, warehousing and storage, finance, and manufacturing – another 5,911 jobs. The numbers spike during the summer berry season to over 7,800 jobs that include, for example, workers who help with sorting and packing berries. Note: These state figures, according to the report, do not include 1,000 to 2,000 berry-picking jobs. A breakdown of the 3,749 direct jobs shows 2,778 jobs in crop production, 775 in animal production, and 198 in support services with total wages of about $101.4 million. Also, the county has 2,032 jobs in food manufacturing with resulting total wages for those production workers of $82.2 million. The study suggests that agriculture supports about 6 percent of all jobs in the county. To download a copy of the Whatcom County Agribusiness Sector Analysis, go to: https://www.whatcombusinessalliance.com/wp-content/ uploads/2017/08/Agribusiness-Analysis-Study-Final-2017-2.pdf. WHATCOMBUSINESSALLIANCE.COM | 25
INDUSTRY REPORT: AGRIBUSINESS
Farmer Andy Enfield & Business Development Director Becky Skaggs of Enfield Farms & Northwest Plant Company describe the high-tech â€œclean roomâ€? laboratory facility recently raised by local builder Roosendaal Honcoop Construction Inc, to cultivate hardier, top quality berry plants. (Photo: Business Pulse staff)
Lynden-based Regenis bio-generator engines, like this one at Edaleen Dairy, build methane digesters to turn biological waste into renewable energy, eliminate pollutants, and offer efficiency to businesses that produce biological waste materials. (Photo: Business Pulse staff) 26 | BUSINESSPULSE.COM
The creamery uses an automatic, robotic milking machine installed in 2015 at a cost of $650,000. “We installed that for labor reasons,” Stap said. Higher wages result in tough decisions for farmers Until two years ago the milking had been handled by one full-time and one relief milker. The fulltime employee left and the other was transferred to the dairy’s processing plant, Stap said. He was forced to raise his milk prices to meet the new Washington state pay scale requirements. He said the higher minimum wage approved by Washington voters in 2016 makes no sense to him. The new minimum wage this year is $11 an hour, with annual increases up to $13.50 by 2020, according to the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries. Stap said the higher the wages, the greater the push to go to mechanical systems that result in fewer on-the-farm jobs.
FARM LAND FOR SALE?
Stap’s great-grandfather Jacob established the dairy in 1910, and Larry and his wife Debbie purchased the home in 1999. Their son Mike is plant manager and their daughter and son-in-law, Michelle and Mark Tolsma, oversee the cattle operation located elsewhere. And now the sixth generation (five grandchildren) is learning about the business. If a farming family decides to sell the property for what the market will bear, that’s the end of the family farm, Larry Stap said. He’s determined to keep Twin Brook in the family. “You sell it so they can afford to buy it.” Selling off valuable agricultural land means “it’s going to go off to the highest bidder. Sad to say lots of the time, the highest bidder is not interested in agriculture,” Stap said. “The result is houses growing up on fertile farmland where crops once grew and animals once grazed.
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INDUSTRY REPORTT: AGRIBUSINESS Farmers need that more valuable, better quality farmland in order to stay in business and make a profit.”
WATER RIGHTS – WHOSE RIGHTS?
The survey report by Hodges and McCafferty touched on the subject of water rights in Whatcom County, a subject that is on farmers’ minds constantly with the current controversy over new wells, development, and senior water rights. Enfield Farms has invested considerable money and time over the last 10 years to ensure their water rights. “We don’t have a water shortage in this county,” Andy Enfield, who also serves on the Ag Water Board, said. According to the Whatcom Family Farmers website, the county’s primary aquifer stores a quarter-trillion gallons of fresh water. And the site states that Washington residents, businesses, and governing officials shouldn’t have to choose between using available water for restoring Native fisheries, or for farms that grow food, or for increasing number of people who want to live in Washington state. The Whatcom Family Farmers website offers a compromise solution to the struggle: using ground water from aquifers instead of water drawn directly from the Nooksack River.
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TOUR ENDS IN SWEET TREATS AND SERIOUS THOUGHTS
The tour wrapped up with attendees savoring Edaleen ice cream topped with Enfield raspberries, and pondering what they’d learned about farming and agribusiness in Whatcom County. Water rights are not taken for granted. Cows produce rich milk that is turned into products enjoyed by western Washington residents. Berry production provides seasonal employment for many Whatcom County residents. And farmers such as Larry Stap hope their multi-generational, family-owned farms continue as an integral part of Whatcom County’s bounty for generations to come. 28 | BUSINESSPULSE.COM
Save the Date
Economic Forecast Breakfast November 15, 2017 7am - 9am
Location: Four Points by Sheraton, Bellingham Join us for breakfast and some frank discussion about the economic forecast for Whatcom County, Washington State and our nation. Hear from top level presenters Dann Mead Smith, President of the Washington Policy Center and Hart Hodges, Director of the Center for Economic and Business Research at Western Washington University on the outlook of economic indicators and the possible impact of new policy changes.
More details at: whatcombusinessalliance.com/events
Daniel Mead Smith, President, Washington Policy Center - Dann is the President of Washington Policy Center. Since becoming President in 2001 he has testified by invitation before dozens of legislative committees in Olympia and appeared on numerous radio and TV newscasts and programs around the state promoting the Center’s work. He also appeared on the national PBS “Debates Debates” television program. Dann is a member of Seattle Rotary #4, a board member of the Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce, founding board member of the Worker Rights Alliance, and served on the Advisory Group of the Washington State Tax Structure Study Committee. Hart Hodges, Director of Western’s Center for Economic and Business Research. He received his Ph.D. in Economics in 1994 from the University of Washington. While at the University of Washington, Hart received awards for both undergraduate and graduate teaching instruction. He taught economics from 1993-1995 at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, WA, and then served as the natural resource damage assessment economist for the U.S. Department of the Interior. Hart also spent several years working with an economic consulting firm in Alaska. He joined the faculty at Western in the Fall of 2000.
WHATCOMBUSINESSALLIANCE.COM | 29
SPECIAL REPORT: DOWNTOWN BUSINESSES
Bob Hallâ€™s newly renovated McHugh Building at the tri-corner of Holly, Bay, and Prospect streets houses Camber coffee shop, which opened mid-summer. 30 | BUSINESSPULSE.COM
“The fading public perception that downtown has a vacancy problem still hangs on, but this is not the case and has not been for many years,” said Bob Hall, who owns 30 heritage buildings in Washington, most in downtown Bellingham. He owns and manages 11 of those with business partner David Johnston. “We rent out around 400,000 square feet in Bellingham,” Hall said, “and the majority of that which we control is at 96 percent occupancy.” The high-profile vacancy of the former JCPenney’s building (not owned by Hall) skews the judgment of casual observers. Aside from that, virtually no ground-floor retail space remains available downtown, Hall said. Downtown vacancy is “less than 10 percent and mostly in buildings with design issues or absentee landlords.”
till think downtown is hurting? Look again: Rents are up, vacancies are down, and out-of-towners as well as locals are snapping up downtown venues.
DOWN TOWN IS Interest high, vacancies low By Cheryl Stritzel McCarthy WHATCOMBUSINESSALLIANCE.COM | 31
SPECIAL REPORT: DOWNTOWN BUSINESSES
The Barlow Building at 211 W. Holly St. in the 1920s.
Jeff Daffron has owned businesses downtown since 1971, when he started Wonderland Teas on Railroad Avenue. He opened Quicksilver Photo Lab in 1986 and has operated it in various downtown locations ever since. Quicksilver has been in a semi-basement venue at the corner of East Chestnut Street and Cornwall Avenue for 15 years.
“We don’t have that many old buildings. Keeping them is important” –Bob Hall, property owner and renovator
“Downtown has grown so much,” Daffron said. “There’s turnover, but it’s growing. There are more choices, more businesses, restaurants, and services to choose 32 | BUSINESSPULSE.COM
from. I see vacancies, but overall we’re gaining.” Downtown rents are starting to compete with Fairhaven’s, Daffron said. He likes downtown because it’s central and accessible. “I pick areas that have parking. When I moved to these sites, there wasn’t much going on, but it had easy parking, was well traveled, and visible.” Downtown Bellingham remains culturally lively in the evenings – eateries, music, arts – partly because county statute kept the mall from being built any earlier. “We were a city with all the retailers downtown,” developer Hall said. “In ’88, they removed that (statute) so the mall could open. Not only did retailers leave, but the businesses connected with them did too. I came in downtown, and once I fixed a building up, it rented. I was surprised to find this; it was against public perception.”
The Barlow Building at 211 W. Holly St. as it looked in 2000 when Bob Hall bought it. (Courtesy photo)
The Barlow Building with historic renovation underway. (Courtesy photo)
The Barlow Building at 211 W. Holly St. today. The building went from “hideous to showcase,” Bob Hall said. (Photo by Cheryl Stritzel McCarthy)
HISTORY In 1989 Hall’s sweater-import
business was bursting the seams of his garage, so he bought his first old building to warehouse sweater inventory. Downtown was available, since the mall had siphoned retailers away. Problems ensued almost immediately upon Hall discovering that his purchase, the three-story Unity Building, would be condemned by the city if he didn’t install substantial fire and safety improvements forthwith. Banks were not loaning on projects such as this. So Hall tapped the line of credit reserved for his import business, as well as his credit card. A year later that action pressured him to sell his house and move his family of two boys into the top floor of the Unity Building, where they slept on foam pads and cooked on a camp stove.
When the work was complete and the city occupancy permit issued, Hall swore he’d never again restore an old building. But tenants came, and after a couple of years, with the building out-earning his import business, Hall reconsidered.
The beauty, utility, and very existence of many downtown buildings today is due to the capacity of Hall to take risks. It’s lucky for downtown that he did. Many of the buildings Hall eventually purchased had gotten run down, with the expectation they’d soon be demolished. Though passersby aren’t aware of it, the beauty, utility, and very existence of many downtown buildings today
are due to the capacity of Hall, and later his partners, to take risks. Casual passersby seldom enter buildings rented as offices; they don’t see the restored interior windows, re-opened skylights, or massive fir beams, all saved from the wrecking ball. One prime example is the Bellingham Hardware Building near the corner of Bay and Holly Streets, graced by a sizable skylight. Its 20 available offices are fully tenanted, and Hall and Johnston have a waiting list. “As it turned out, I’ve renovated about 15,000 square feet per year, and rented it all out as it came on the market,” Hall said, explaining his strategy. “I never moved on until we’d rented out the previous building. For example, in 1999 I bought seven buildings. Some were selling for the price of the land, less tear-down costs.” He WHATCOMBUSINESSALLIANCE.COM | 33
SPECIAL REPORT: DOWNTOWN BUSINESSES
Bob Hall in downtown Bellingham. 34 | BUSINESSPULSE.COM
said all seven survive today. Even the one or two that were sold eventually to Bellingham’s housing authority “…would’ve been torn down if I hadn’t got to them and worked on them. “Especially out west here, we don’t have that many old buildings.
“I wasn’t into wising anybody up, until now. Downtown has beautiful old buildings.”
•Chuckanut Bay Distillery, owned by Kelly Andrews and Matt Howell, is moving to a much bigger space at 1309/1311 Cornwall Ave. They’ll use 18,000 square feet over three floors. •Another huge renovation is underway in the Bellingham National Bank Building, on the corner of Holly Street and Cornwall Avenue. Blue Koi Coffee will roast coffee there, serve house-made pastries, and more. They plan to stay open evenings until 10. With 4,000
square feet, they’ll have plenty of seating. In 1903, Bellingham was the fourth largest city in Washington with a population of 37,000. “When I got to town in 1976, the population was 45,000,” Hall said. “It has now doubled, and it will double again in the next 40 years. Bellingham has a large downtown centered around the bay. It’s difficult for a mall to compete with that.”
–Bob Hall, property owner and renovator
Keeping them is important.” Hall’s goal is preservation of buildings, and their cultural value, through restoration. The results: healthy new business tenants in a historic space with up-to-date electrical, plumbing, and heating. His take on downtown rents? “They’re half of what they would be in new construction, but if major renovation takes place, the rent has to pay for that cost. If it cost more than $100 per square foot for renovation, the rent goes up $6 per foot per year, or 50 cents per foot per month, to pay for that.”
for your support in 2017!
THENewFUTURE business tenants, some from
Tacoma or Seattle, see downtown Bellingham differently than longterm citizens, Hall said. “They know the future. This is not their second choice. It’s better than Seattle or Portland or San Francisco.” •Camber, a deluxe coffee shop with a wider menu coming, opened mid-summer in a beautiful groundfloor location in the McHugh Building at Bay and Prospect streets. •Café Velo, where you can get your bike fixed and have coffee or beer indoors or on the patio, opened in January in a historic space –120 Prospect Street – by husbandand-wife owners Kim Strang and Andrew Francis.
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SPECIAL REPORT: DOWNTOWN BUSINESSES
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Husband and wife Kim Strang and Andrew Francis opened Café Velo, a bike-repair, beer, and coffee shop, in a renovated building.
ONEBelleTHATFlora, DEPARTED a florist that sold
home décor, left its downtown location after 17 years at a highly visible corner on State and East Chestnut Streets. New owners and siblings Melissa Bella and Josh Colliver chose to downsize. Both former employees of the previous owner, Bella and Colliver made the call to swing the focus back to flowers. They reopened in late 2016 in a little shopping center at 2408 Yew Street. They downsized from 3,000 square feet to 1,000, and from eight employees to six. “That was the way the business was already going at the end when we picked it up,” Colliver said. “We didn’t need the size. We had an interest in keeping it small and manageable.” The previous owner’s lease had expired downtown, and a significant rent increase was coming. They’re now paying less than half the rent than the previous owner did downtown. Deliveries and customer parking are easier in a shopping center. Since most of their business comes in online or over the phone, less drop-in traffic
hasn’t hurt much. They’ve lost the college traffic, Bella said, since they left their former downtown location conjoined with a coffee shop.
THEBella DOGandTHATColliver DOESN’T BITE don’t miss
the loiterers. “That’s gotten worse since I started working downtown in 2004,” Bella said, mentioning garbage lying around outside and items going missing from frontdoor displays. “It wasn’t every single day, but it did happen.” Downtown vagrancy, however, did not play into their decision to leave. “You take it for granted, being downtown, seeing people loitering,” Colliver said. Hall said, “Downtown is the dog that doesn’t bite,” meaning that somehow people have come to accept vagrancy there, whereas other neighborhoods would call police. “I’m sorry to say Bellingham, like the nation, is suffering from this increase in homelessness. People say, don’t tolerate them. But that doesn’t solve the problem.” Daffron, the photo lab owner, calls it the No. 1 problem of business owners downtown. “We had to put
up a gate, eight years ago, to keep people from sleeping in our doorway,” he said. “Other businesses did the same. “It’s our customers’ perception. Some don’t come downtown because they don’t want to deal with panhandlers or people hanging out on corners. It hurts our customer base.” Despite that persistent problem, Bellingham’s downtown is fast becoming a West Coast urban center, Hall said. “Downtown has walkability, diversity of all sorts of options for entertainment, with food and other businesses almost entirely locally owned and operated. I wrote a book for people across the country, to save these buildings.” His book, This Old Building; A Guide to Buying, Restoring & Managing Historical Commercial Property by Robert K. Hall, costs $24.95, available at Village Books, Allied Arts, and amazon.com. It’s an intriguing and personal tale that blends nuts-and-bolts how-to with fascinating stories of Bellingham’s history. “I wasn’t into wising anybody up, until now,” Hall said. “Downtown has beautiful old buildings of better quality.” WHATCOMBUSINESSALLIANCE.COM | 37
SPECIAL REPORT: ENVIRONMENTAL STEWARDS
Environmental Stewardship: WBA Members lead by example By Mary Louise Van Dyke
ome area businesses demonstrate that industry and environmental concerns can co-exist and thrive in business.
Solutions devised by these Whatcom Business Alliance members range from composting food, plastic and paper products to laundering garments and linens, soil reclamation, creating biofuels from waste, and hauling trash away from pristine parts of Planet Earth.
180 DEGREES DIFFERENCE AT BRIO LAUNDRY
When Colleen Unema decided to launch her own business she recognized the importance of utilizing the scientific and environmental 38 | BUSINESSPULSE.COM
principles she’d shared with high school and college students as a teacher for more than 25 years. “I was a science teacher. A lot of it was about environmental issues,” Unema said.
“The ultimate goal for all of this is to keep as much garbage or oil contamination out of the landfill as possible.” –Ken Bell, President/CEO, Best Recycling
Unema investigated the possibility of opening a coin laundry by taking her loads of laundry to laundromats around Whatcom County, and further afield while on trips.
Most of the facilities she visited were aging, equipped with outdated machines that either didn’t clean properly or they shrank and damaged garments and linens. “If I was going to do a laundry it was going to be 180 degrees different from what everyone else was doing out there,” she said. She envisioned using durable machines that met the newest standards for water and energy conservation. Four years ago she opened Q Laundry, and later renamed it Brio. “I wanted a washer I could clean – with stainless steel drums that are naturally anti-bacterial,” Unema
Volunteer employees from Bellingham Cold Storage participate in clean-ups and planting trees at Squalicum Creek in Bellingham. (Photo courtesy of Bellingham Cold Storage.)
said. “My machines use 25 percent of the water that machines at home use.” Brio offers drop-off-and-dash laundry services in addition to come-in-and-do-it-yourself. They use green laundry detergents, and provide extras such as Wi-Fi, a coffee bar, and washers programmed to text message users a few minutes before the load is done. Her staff is trained in washing out-of-the-ordinary items such as tents and vintage quilts, and in providing assistance to customers,
Unema said. “Everyone who walks in here may not know how to say it – but they want to do right by the environment.”
BELLINGHAM COLD STORAGE QUIETLY DOES ITS PART
From adoption of a segment of a local creek to “going green” on electricity purchases, Bellingham Cold Storage (BCS) quietly does its part to show environmental stewardship at its full-service facilities. BCS employees perform clean-
ups along a section of Squalicum Creek to keep the area free of invasive species and trash. Doing this restoration makes good sense on a number of levels, according to Doug Thomas, President/CEO. “It demonstrates that we are serious about good water quality,” Thomas said. “Our (portside cold storage) business depends on healthy marine life.” Recently the company began purchasing Green Power renewable energy certificates, as a 100 percent voluntary, renewable corporate purWHATCOMBUSINESSALLIANCE.COM | 39
SPECIAL REPORT: ENVIRONMENTAL STEWARDS
Best Recycling transports all waste generated by U.S. personnel who live in challenging conditions in Antarctica back to the U.S. for recycling and disposal. (Photo courtesy of Best Recycling.)
chaser for the next five years. That decision ensures that the electricity BCS needs to chill and freeze over 2 billion pounds of food annually is produced by renewable energy generators throughout the U.S. “This is probably our most significant environmental stewardship,” Thomas said. “We use a tremendous amount of power here.” BCS made the commitment in tandem with energy supplier Avangrid Renewables. Purchasing these certificates encourages renewable developers to continue providing clean energy sources and selling their product at competitive prices, Thomas said.
KEN BELL TAKES BEST RECYCLING TO THE FARTHEST END OF THE PLANET Ken Bell recalls sitting in his office and playing Solitaire on a computer in 1994. He’d successfully launched a solid waste and composting plant in Bellingham 40 | BUSINESSPULSE.COM
for ReComp Inc. and things were going smoothly. At that point he said he couldn’t imagine what the future held for him – treks to Antarctica to arrange hauling solid waste back to the U.S.,
“The ongoing creek clean-up efforts demonstrate that we are serious about good water quality. Our (portside cold storage) business depends on healthy marine life.” –Doug Thomas, President/CEO of Bellingham Cold Storage
or partnering on ways to clean oilsoaked soil in other remote locations. Bell admitted that stacking virtual black cards on red cards
wasn’t doing it for his excitement factor. “I thought, ‘This isn’t what I want to do with my life,” said Bell, who holds a degree in biology. He resigned from ReComp and began purchasing recycling facilities. The biggest challenge involved a request for bids to handle solid waste for the U.S. Antarctic Program. “Only two bids were submitted,” Bell said – his, and one from the facility that was handling the project at the time. Bell was awarded the project and he took the first of several trips to the icy continent in 1999. “You’re in one of the most beautiful places on the planet there,” he said. “It’s also one of the harshest places on the planet.” People who reside there, including those who are part of the U.S. program, are required to package all of their solid waste. The Best Recycling service involves transporting all of those packages in containers by ship to California.
A TRILLION TREES to counteract climate change
By Mary Louise Van Dyke Peter James is a commercial photographer by profession and he’s passionately committed to his part in ensuring that climate change doesn’t adversely affect the Earth. As a Bellingham business owner, his plan is simple: Plant a trillion trees. James launched the Trillion Trees campaign last April and he’s working to get the word out to as many people as possible. James is informing everyone he can about how planting trees on a large scale is the most affordable, practical, and beneficial way to counteract climate change, establish more wildlife habitat, create shade, and enrich and protect topsoil. “Trees make oxygen and they are actually cleaning our air by breaking down pollution (such as carbon dioxide),” James said. The Trillion Trees campaign website includes a section on fertilizer trees that restore barren land. These rapid-growing trees include Neem, a cousin of mahogany and Moringa, a tree with nutritional and medicinal properties. Planet Earth has about 5 billion acres of degraded land that begs restoration, James said in an interview. He added that a sizable portion of this dilapidated land is in the tropics where fertilizer trees would do well. He has calculated that a $3 donation could pay for planting 30 trees in Africa for one month. James’ goal is to get businesses involved in tree planting. Companies, for example, might choose to donate money to plant a tree for each of its employees. He’s also requesting ideas about other options to spread the word and to get shovels moving and trees planted. “One of the big things about the Trillion Tree campaign is that we’re all in this together,” James said. For more information about the campaign, go to: http://www. trilliontreescampaign.org.
“Trees make oxygen and they are actually cleaning our air by breaking down pollution (such as carbon dioxide).” –Peter James
WHATCOMBUSINESSALLIANCE.COM | 41
SPECIAL REPORT: ENVIRONMENTAL STEWARDS From there tractor-trailers haul the waste to various disposal facilities. “Food waste has to be incinerated, for example, to destroy any microbes or bugs that might lurk inside, it,” Bell said. His other company, Iron Creek Group, came about as the result of an oil spill in the Yukon. Thermal engineer Roger Richter partnered with Bell to remediate contaminated soils caused by fracking, legacy pits, and larger oil spills. They are currently developing a way to reclaim oil from spills rather than just burning it off. “The ultimate goal for all of this is to keep as much garbage or oil contamination out of the landfill as possible,” Bell said.
BEGINNING WITH GRASS CLIPPINGS, GREEN EARTH TECHNOLOGY THINKS GREEN
Green Earth Technology, a division of S&W Rock Products LLC, focuses on turning uneaten foods and yard waste into useful compost and soil. “About 15 years ago, we established our business to try to recycle grass clippings,” Co-owner Stephanie Harvey said. “We saw it as a way to give back to the community.”
“We like to say we do more laundry in an hour than you’ll do in a lifetime.” ” –Rob Burton, director of NW Health Care Linens plant operations.
In 2003 the company researched the idea of composting food, working with Nooksack Valley Disposal, Sanitary Service Company, and Haggen grocery stores to see if the idea was feasible. Initially they focused on pre-consumer food waste, such as grocery store fruits and vegetables that didn’t sell before expiration date. Green Earth later moved into handling post-consumer food waste 42 | BUSINESSPULSE.COM
Rob Burton of Northwest Health Care Linens says the company uses green practices in processing about 14.5 million pounds of laundry annually. (Photo by Mary Louise Van Dyke.)
where restaurants and some schools send them food – such as uneaten items left on diners’ plates – for composting. Initially the plant diverted about 10,000 tons of materials from local landfills, and now processes about 24,000 tons, or 48 million pounds a year at the Lynden composting facility. During a tour, Harvey pointed to mountains of debris covered with Gore-Tex sheets that control temperature and moisture and allow
minimal odor. Each of those heaps was a mix of grass clippings, wood grindings, and food waste. Green Earth mixes those ingredients “the right carbon-to-nitrogen ratio so microbes can compost them and reduce the volume (of the heaps),” Harvey said. The resulting compost is used for gardens and landscaping and in environmental remediation projects and rain gardens. Green Earth Technology participates in the U.S. Composting
Learn why Whatcom County Business Owners, Presidents, CEOs, and Managers have joined the WBA in large numbers. We keep you informed of business issues, and provide you with opportunities to network with and learn from other local business leaders from virtually every industry in Whatcom County. We are a nonproot organization that focuses on Economic Development, facilitating business success and business advocacy. We accept NO public funding.
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IndustrialCU.org (360) 734-2043 WHATCOMBUSINESSALLIANCE.COM | 43
SPECIAL REPORT: ENVIRONMENTAL STEWARDS
Regenis constructs anaerobic digesters, such as this one at Edaleen Dairy in Lynden, which turn animal and pre-consumer food waste into byproducts such as energy and animal bedding. (Photo courtesy of Regenis.)
Council and its Seal of Testing Assurance program. Harvey said the recycling program has grown with organic materials collected from individuals, Nooksack Valley, Sanitary Services, and several lawn care companies.
NORTHWEST HEALTH CARE LINEN: A LIFETIME OF LAUNDRY IN ONE HOUR
Northwest Health Care Linen (NHCL) employees are all about ensuring that hospital gowns, scrubs, and linens used by healthcare providers are hygienically clean, using processes that efficiently use and reuse water, energy, and chemicals. “We are inherently a green business. Everything we supply to our customers is reusable,” said Kelsey Van Miert, director of marketing. Van Miert said the company is 100 percent dedicated to the health care industry, handling laundry for 13 hospitals and 300 clinics in an area that spans from Whatcom County to south Tacoma and west to the 44 | BUSINESSPULSE.COM
Olympic Peninsula. Her father, James Hall, started the company in 1992 after being approached about taking on laundry services for Peace Health Medical Centers (then known as St. Joseph hospital). Hall owned an extended care facility at the time with an in-house laundry facility. NHCL processed 2.3 million pounds of laundry the first year. Now, 102 employees handle about 14.5 million pounds of laundry annually in north Bellingham using innovative processes and equipment. “We like to say we do more laundry in an hour than you’ll do in a lifetime,” said Rob Burton, director of NHCL’s plant operations. Heat from the waste water is reclaimed and used through a piping system to heat incoming fresh water. The waste water is cleaned before it’s discharged into the sanitary sewer. The carts used to haul plastic, soiled linen bags and the cart covers are recycled. The company’s four tractor/trailers and box vans operate
primarily at night to reduce emissions and limit fuel loss, according to Bill Akers, director of customer solutions. The company is certified through EnviroStars and through the TRSA Clean Green/Hygienically Clean programs.
REGENIS TURNS MANURE INTO ASSETS
Regenis’s business model is based on “How do you use agricultural waste and turn it into something of value?” It constructs anaerobic digesters, which take animal waste and capture the harmful methane emissions, according to Communications Director Michael F. C. Grossman. The waste (sometimes mixed with pre-consumer foods) is piped into the digester for a 3-week process where the methane is captured as bio gas. “What is happening in a digester isn’t that dissimilar from what is happening in a cow’s stomach,” Grossman said.
The procedure involves heating the material to about 105 degrees Fahrenheit, similar to temperatures inside a cow’s stomachs. About 99.9 percent of the pathogens are removed during the procedure and the results are suitable for a variety of uses. Grossman said the resulting biogas can be turned into an electricity generator that can power a farm, put it back on the electric grid, or be scrubbed and turned into renewable natural gas for oper-
ating vehicles. This process helps Whatcom County dairy farmers not only meet higher air and water quality regulations, it opens up new sources of circular economy revenue for them in selling excess biogas, pathogen-free animal bedding, and bio-fertilizers. The cleaned, leftover liquid is pumped into a lagoon and sprayed on crops, Grossman said. Anaerobic digestion is leading the wave of new industries in Ag-tech. The results of the anaero-
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bic digester process give “local dairy farmers a way to stay competitive while meeting their commitment to be good stewards of the land,” Grossman said.
WOOD RECLAIMED AND REUSED AT THE WOODS COFFEE
The first Woods Coffee shop opened in Lynden in 2002. Since then owner Wes Herman has opened 18 more around Whatcom, Skagit, and King Counties, and into Delta, B.C. “All of our design and construction work is built with LEED standards,” Herman said. LEED, as described on the U.S. Green Building Council’s website, is a certification system for energy and environmental design, using less water and energy and reducing greenhouse emissions. All with cost savings. “When we build our stores, we try to use as much reclaimed materials as possible,” Herman said. “All of the wood in our stores are primarily reclaimed woods.” For example, they use wood from fallen trees for benches and tables, and the cups (paper and clear plastic) are 100 percent compostable. Trash receptacles are separated for newspaper, glass, and plastics recycling. Herman said The Woods is the largest plastics recycler in Lynden. The company also encourages employees to ride bikes to and from work, and utilizes hybrid vehicles for delivering baked goods prepared at their Lynden bakery and coffee at the Woods Roastery in Bellingham. Food that is a day old is donated to area food banks and school programs. Herman said one of their biggest environmental endeavors is repurposing old buildings, such as the 1908 Flatiron building at 10 Prospect St. in Bellingham. Today that store features the restored tin ceiling and floor boards, in addition to the reclaimed wood furnishings. WHATCOMBUSINESSALLIANCE.COM | 45
WBA ADVOCACY: ELECTION 2017
The price of no-growth Analysis and Opinion By Jim McKinney
hatcom County and Bellingham are unique and special places to live. Outsiders must agree, as substantiated by the population growth and skyrocketing housing prices. I believe that most residents want to keep it special. They want to protect the environment. They want to avoid urban sprawl. They want a green economy. They want to protect their jobs and their quality of life. And some want no growth – to keep this place just as it is, or as they wish it were. Whatcom County and Bellingham City officials have responded – well beyond State and Federal regulations. They have enacted limiting growth pol46 | BUSINESSPULSE.COM
icies through restrictive zoning, increased environmental regulation, and moratoriums on building and heavy industry expansion. Unfortunately, there is a high price to idealistic and politically-driven efforts. There are many great things about Whatcom County; however, after analyzing demographic and economic data, citizens might draw conclusions that indicate a less optimistic, idyllic future. Let’s explore the issues and consider options that balance community needs. Economic growth and protecting our way of life are not mutually exclusive.
POPULATION VS. JOBS GROWTH According to the U.S. Census Bureau the Whatcom County population has grown over 11 percent since 2007, about 25,000 people 1. However, jobs are not keeping up with population growth. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor
Statistics (BLS,) overall County employment dropped significantly in the 2009-10 recession. Growth has been hovering around 1.5 percent annually since, with only a little over 2,000 new jobs over the pre-recession peak in 2008. Unemployment has returned to about the 4.9 percent of 10 years ago. The average labor force estimates in 2017 (109,673) are within 1 percent of 2008 (108,750), in spite of the much larger population growth 2. This means 25,000 new people – 1,000 new workers. BLS and Washington Employment Security Department report the most significant growth in County jobs has been in government employment, estimated between 4.7-6 percent. This accounts for most of the overall job growth. The reports show small increases in low-wage service industry jobs. Manufacturing and construction jobs are flat or slightly above pre-recession levels. Professional jobs are down. Wages have seen slight increases, but so have
taxes3. Government employees are paid from tax revenues; they don’t improve economic productivity numbers – they are a liability, not an asset.
COST OF LIVING Whatcom County has the highest cost of living-to-income ratio in Washington state, according to numerous State and Federal statistics. According to the Whatcom Homeless Service Center, homelessness has increased since 2012, well into the economic recovery. The Habitat for Humanity in Whatcom County’s 2015-2016 Annual Report states 42 percent of residents earn less than the basic cost of living 4. Zillow reports that Whatcom County housing prices increased 11 percent in the last year, and continue to rise 5. The market has been hot with regional and out-ofstate buyers pushing prices up and taking some local buyers out of the market, according to local real estate agents. Housing availability is decreasing, with almost no rental availability. Many local real estate experts believe the affordable housing-to-income ratio is at crisis level. Habitat for Humanity’s report claims the average local wage is not enough to afford a 2-bedroom apartment 4 .
LOCAL GOVERNMENT POLICIES The current County Council has voted on moratoriums restricting improvements and expansion at the one designated heavy industrial growth zone – Cherry Point. They have failed to act to protect over 3,500 property owners whose property is near valueless following the Futurewise/Hirst Water Rights decision – with about $200 million in property losses for these owners. They have passed moratoriums on County building permits. And they have enacted stiff regulations on the local farming, cattle, and dairy industries. These actions deter new employers and employees from relocating to Whatcom County.
Cherry Point industries, mainly energy, are under attack by environmental, no-growth political activists and the local government. The loss of these companies, by any economic measure, would be devastating to the County. The industries are the highest-paying employers in the County. Average annual salaries at Cherry point exceed $110,000, compared to the $43,000 mean for the County. Those companies employ over 10 percent of the entire County workforce, and are huge contrib-
In the last 10 years Whatcom County has grown by about 25,000 residents, but has added not quite 1,000 new jobs – mostly government, which are a liability and not an asset in economic growth, by U.S. Census standards. utors to our local schools and communities, both in tax base and philanthropy. They are heavily regulated, clean operations – working toward emission reductions and a lower carbon future. The energy companies provide efficient energy for a global market demand that will be filled either here or by foreign competitors if they are shut down. Yet the County Council is restricting their ability to grow or export.
THE IMPACT The increasing gap in population growth-to-employment is having an effect. According to the latest U.S. Census statistics, about 14.5 percent of Whatcom County residents rank below the poverty level. The last two years reflect a small decline, but Whatcom County remains well above state (12.5 percent) and national (13.5 percent) poverty levels. The number of families making under $10,000 a
year has increased in the last 5 years of economic recovery. Whatcom County has an increasing elderly population that is not contributing to employment or economic growth. Income disparity is growing, not shrinking.
CONCLUSIONS Current Whatcom County Council decisions to stop growth are not improving this community. It’s hard to stop population growth; one can only manage it. Increasing population without increasing employment creates inequality. Whatcom County needs more private sector jobs bringing new income into the County, not government jobs that just redistribute the existing income. Limiting new property development increases existing housing supply, prices, and more homelessness. Failing to protect citizens’ property rights and halting their ability to build through moratorium destroys local families’ personal wealth and forces significant tax burden redistribution on others. There must be alternatives.
OPTIONS 1. Seek new economic opportunity, don’t turn it away. Successful communities reach out to industries. They offer simple, efficient processes that facilitate development, not discourage it. Economic development provides opportunity – jobs, tax revenues, and a better quality of life. 2. Open Whatcom County to development, don’t strangle property owners. Development can be managed in a way that protects the environment and balances community needs. Dense urban growth creates congestion, has statistically higher crime rates, brings greater social service needs, and increases tax burdens. Not everyone wants to live in an urban village. 3. Stop over-regulation from uninformed activist legislators trying to save farmland. Federal and State regulation is heavy enough; another WHATCOMBUSINESSALLIANCE.COM | 47
WBA ADVOCACY: ELECTION 2017 local layer is stifling. Over-regulation is destroying farmers, according to Whatcom Family Farmers and the Whatcom Cattlemen’s Association. Trust farmers to manage their lands. It is their business, they know it best, and they must take care of their land to survive. Many local family farms are forced out, selling to large corporate farms or just shutting down. They are a vital part of our community and economy. 4. Allow Cherry Point to operate under market conditions, and allow the building of a fourth export pier. The industrial zoning should allow new industry and expansion of existing facilities. More high paying jobs and more professional services in the planned industrial growth area would have a huge impact on the local economy. Isn’t it better to have these heavy industries here, regulated with oversight, than in a Third World location with lax environmental oversight and corruption? The fourth pier option offers export opportunity to all goods and services, not just coal train cars that pass through Whatcom County every day on the way to a port in Canada. 5. Elect officials who understand business, our community, and that answer to everyone’s needs, not just the needs of a few vocal activists. Take a look at the economic numbers, the votes, and the objectives and ask yourself: Are the incumbent council members fighting for your jobs, farms, and property? Or are they fighting for their power, or worse, a political ideology? The political balance has tipped in a way that is undermining Whatcom County’s quality of life. Limiting growth restricts opportunity, for business, for jobs, for citizens. Shortsighted, idealistic, and politically driven policies proclaimed to protect the community are instead destabilizing the community. It doesn’t have to be this way. Make a change this November. Whatcom County can do better. 48 | BUSINESSPULSE.COM
1. https://factfinder.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/ pages/productview.xhtml?src=bkmk https://esd.wa.gov/labormarketinfo/county-profiles/ whatcom#population 2. https://fortress.wa.gov/esd/employmentdata/ reports-publications/regional-reports/local-unemployment-statistics https://www.bls.gov/eag/eag.wa_bellingham_msa.htm 3. https://fortress.wa.gov/esd/employmentdata/ reports-publications/economic-reports/washington-employment-estimates https://www.bls.gov/eag/eag.wa_bellingham_msa.htm https://esd.wa.gov/labormarketinfo/county-profiles/ whatcom#population https://www.whatcomhsc.org/whatcom-county-homelessness-in-numbers/ 4. http://www.hfhwhatcom.org/wp-content/ uploads/2016/10/15-16AnnualReport.pdf 5. https://www.zillow.com/whatcom-county-wa/ home-values/
Jim McKinney retired in 2013 as a Foreign Area Officer, Senior Defense Official and Defense Attaché with over 30 years of service. He did tours in the Middle East, the Former Soviet Union, the Balkans, Asia, Central Asia, Central America and Europe. Among many duties, he developed strategies and managed comprehensive development programs in underdeveloped and war-torn countries. Jim is now the volunteer executive director for Common Threads Northwest, a community advocacy non-profit, helping to inform, educate and mobilize citizens for common interests.
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WHATCOM COUNTY EMPLOYMENT 2007 â€“ 2017
2017 Civilian Labor Force 109,673 109,107 108,664 108,821 108,649 108,546 110,439 113,483 Total Employment 103,974 102,263 102,314 103,043 103,521 103,437 105,118 108,122 Total Unemployment 5,699 6,844 6,350 5,778 5,128 5,109 5,321 5,361 Unemployment Rate 5.2% 6.3% 5.8% 5.3% 4.7% 4.7% 4.8% 4.7% 2016 Civilian Labor Force 107,690 107,780 107,272 107,710 106,660 106,702 107,041 109,655 106,052 106,225 108,774 108,913 109,505 Total Employment 101,212 100,656 100,084 100,829 100,273 100,492 100,559 103,108 99,630 100,191 102,644 102,929 103,154 Total Unemployment 6,478 7,124 7,188 6,881 6,387 6,210 6,482 6,547 6,422 6,034 6,130 5,984 6,351 Unemployment Rate 6.0% 6.6% 6.7% 6.4% 6.0% 5.8% 6.1% 6.0% 6.1% 5.7% 5.6% 5.5% 5.8% 2015 Civilian Labor Force 104,218 104,866 104,023 103,739 103,015 103,992 103,966 105,752 102,297 101,826 104,920 105,642 106,585 Total Employment 97,989 97,666 96,897 97,427 97,244 97,824 97,896 99,522 96,287 96,143 99,142 99,687 100,136 Total Unemployment 6,229 7,200 7,126 6,312 5,771 6,168 6,070 6,230 6,010 5,683 5,778 5,955 6,449 Unemployment Rate 6.0% 6.9% 6.9% 6.1% 5.6% 5.9% 5.8% 5.9% 5.9% 5.6% 5.5% 5.6% 6.1%
Data not yet available
2014 Civilian Labor Force 101,161 102,069 101,615 102,066 99,615 100,482 100,379 101,226 100,372 98,428 101,839 102,612 103,218 Total Employment 94,522 94,492 93,704 94,784 93,328 93,880 94,244 94,725 93,972 92,474 95,629 96,286 96,740 Total Unemployment 6,639 7,577 7,911 7,282 6,287 6,602 6,135 6,501 6,400 5,954 6,210 6,326 6,478 Unemployment Rate 6.6% 7.4% 7.8% 7.1% 6.3% 6.6% 6.1% 6.4% 6.4% 6.0% 6.1% 6.2% 6.3% 2013 Civilian Labor Force 101,966 103,388 102,820 103,093 101,410 101,942 101,888 102,641 101,732 99,458 101,261 101,773 102,180 Total Employment 94,342 94,058 93,817 94,843 93,766 94,124 94,120 95,063 94,537 92,848 94,478 95,167 95,281 Total Unemployment 7,624 9,330 9,003 8,250 7,644 7,818 7,768 7,578 7,195 6,610 6,783 6,606 6,899 Unemployment Rate 7.5% 9.0% 8.8% 8.0% 7.5% 7.7% 7.6% 7.4% 7.1% 6.6% 6.7% 6.5% 6.8% 2012 Civilian Labor Force 103,136 103,719 103,679 105,017 103,921 103,447 103,025 102,926 102,560 100,593 102,157 102,786 103,798 Total Employment 94,735 93,987 93,964 96,047 95,774 94,838 94,582 94,321 94,295 93,001 94,713 95,345 95,947 Total Unemployment 8,401 9,732 9,715 8,970 8,147 8,609 8,443 8,605 8,265 7,592 7,444 7,441 7,851 Unemployment Rate 8.1% 9.4% 9.4% 8.5% 7.8% 8.3% 8.2% 8.4% 8.1% 7.5% 7.3% 7.2% 7.6% 2011 Civilian Labor Force 102,742 104,041 103,171 103,511 102,945 103,655 103,293 101,440 103,059 100,683 102,118 102,107 102,877 Total Employment 93,482 93,292 92,585 93,495 93,985 94,483 94,025 92,344 94,022 92,103 93,769 93,726 93,953 Total Unemployment 9,260 10,749 10,586 10,016 8,960 9,172 9,268 9,096 9,037 8,580 8,349 8,381 8,924 Unemployment Rate 9.0% 10.3% 10.3% 9.7% 8.7% 8.8% 9.0% 9.0% 8.8% 8.5% 8.2% 8.2% 8.7% 2010 Civilian Labor Force 104,359 105,592 104,898 105,447 105,107 105,038 104,355 103,873 104,826 102,587 103,021 104,055 103,498 Total Employment 94,467 94,102 93,256 94,367 95,015 95,144 94,892 94,600 95,393 93,684 94,266 94,685 94,194 Total Unemployment 9,892 11,490 11,642 11,080 10,092 9,894 9,463 9,273 9,433 8,903 8,755 9,370 9,304 Unemployment Rate 9.5% 10.9% 11.1% 10.5% 9.6% 9.4% 9.1% 8.9% 9.0% 8.7% 8.5% 9.0% 9.0% 2009 Civilian Labor Force 108,027 108,578 108,543 110,775 107,729 108,532 108,205 107,570 109,233 104,810 107,052 108,004 107,299 Total Employment 98,816 100,479 99,940 102,058 99,389 99,615 98,762 98,198 99,382 94,979 97,569 98,358 97,064 Total Unemployment 9,211 8,099 8,603 8,717 8,340 8,917 9,443 9,372 9,851 9,831 9,483 9,646 10,235 Unemployment Rate 8.5% 7.5% 7.9% 7.9% 7.7% 8.2% 8.7% 8.7% 9.0% 9.4% 8.9% 8.9% 9.5% 2008 Civilian Labor Force 108,750 109,326 108,450 109,009 108,481 108,689 108,353 109,247 110,554 106,923 108,253 109,059 108,663 Total Employment 102,979 103,358 102,272 103,184 103,096 103,100 102,754 103,572 104,808 101,459 102,807 103,083 102,257 Total Unemployment 5,771 5,968 6,178 5,825 5,385 5,589 5,599 5,675 5,746 5,464 5,446 5,976 6,406 Unemployment Rate 5.3% 5.5% 5.7% 5.3% 5.0% 5.1% 5.2% 5.2% 5.2% 5.1% 5.0% 5.5% 5.9% 2007 Civilian Labor Force 106,348 105,005 105,285 105,620 105,088 105,824 105,379 106,797 106,496 104,828 107,704 109,291 108,853 Total Employment 101,371 99,190 99,828 100,630 99,999 100,950 100,601 101,839 101,711 100,217 103,199 104,419 103,868 Total Unemployment 4,977 5,815 5,457 4,990 5,089 4,874 4,778 4,958 4,785 4,611 4,505 4,872 4,985 Unemployment Rate 4.7% 5.5% 5.2% 4.7% 4.8% 4.6% 4.5% 4.6% 4.5% 4.4% 4.2% 4.5% 4.6%
WHATCOMBUSINESSALLIANCE.COM | 49
WBA ADVOCACY: ELECTION 2017
Whatcom Countyâ€™s future is in your hands
VOTE! Become informed, educate your Team, vote in November! By Jim McKinney
uccessful business leaders protect their businesses and their employees. One effective way to protect them is to participate in our local democracy. Many business owners make little time to delve into politics. They are busy. Or they lack sufficient information to stay on top of issues.
However, local policies can make or break small and large businesses alike. Participating and taking action is a must for survival in a changing marketplace. Understanding changes in regulations, in zoning, and in growth plans is essential for leaders to make 50 | BUSINESSPULSE.COM
informed decisions on new hiring or expansion. Sharing the impact of local policies on your business with employees allows them the opportunity to vote in their best interests, and yours. It will help employees keep their jobs, and keep your business strong. Taking the time to become informed might help identify market opportunities and avoid unwanted or surprise regulatory problems. Speaking out with your team on important issues can influence local leaders. Active participation can circumvent bad public policy. Nonparticipation encourages bad policy. Every business leader and hard-working citizen should take the time to participate if they are concerned about their future.
The most impactful local political races this November are for the County Council and for the Port Commission. They will drive Whatcom County’s future economic development. Here are a few things to consider before the general elections: In 2015, County voters approved changes to how the County Council is elected – expanding electoral districts from three to five. They also approved district-only voting in the five new districts.
Active participation can circumvent bad public policy. Nonparticipation encourages bad policy. Every business leader and hard-working citizen should take the time to participate if they are concerned about their future. Previously all County Council seats were elected on a countywide ballot. Bellingham had significant influence in all three districts, as it has nearly half the county population. Bellingham voters’ influence now is reduced with voting only within the district a vote lives in, even though the city retains two of the five districts. Two at-large council seats will still be decided by countywide vote. Seven council seats remain overall. The first district-only voting begins this November. Voters will choose three seats on the ballot to represent their district’s concerns: District 1 (South Bellingham), District 2 (North Bellingham), and District 3 (Eastern/ Foothills). Each district represents about 43,000 people. The fourth seat up for election this November is the at-large vacancy that represents the entire county of about 216,000 people. District 4 (Northeast/Farm), District 5 (Cherry Point/Coast), and the other at-large seat open up for election in November 2019.
These races will directly affect future County economic growth: District 1, South Bellingham. The Candidates: • Rud Browne, incumbent, former business owner. • Phil Morgan, retired electrical engineer. District 2, North Bellingham. The Candidates: • Todd Donovan, incumbent, political science professor. • Amy Glasser, social worker/ community activist. District 3, Foothills. The Candidates: • Rebecca Boonstra, Executive Director of Mt. Baker Chamber of Commerce. • Tyler Byrd, Owner/President of RedRokk Digital Media Marketing. At-Large, Countywide. The Candidates: • Barry Buchanan, incumbent, formerly with Lockheed. • Mary Kay Robinson, Windermere Whatcom realtor/ former banker. Literally, the council seats are defined by statute as nonpartisan. However, each incumbent (Browne, Donovan, Buchanan) and candidate Boonstra have an endorsement and campaign donations from the Whatcom Democrats. Morgan has the endorsement of the Whatcom County Republican Party. Byrd, Robinson and Glasser do not have mainstream political party endorsements; they’re running party independent. The Port of Bellingham Commission is the Statedesignated economic development agency for the County. The Commission’s decisions impact the Bellingham International Airport, its Maritime Division (harbors, terminals, marine trades), and its Real Estate Division (about 150 tenants), including the Waterfront District.
The Port Commission has three seats representing the three pre2015 districts. After district-only primaries, the commissioners are elected in countywide voting. Two seats, Districts 1 and 2, are up for election this November. District 1. The Candidates: • Dan Robbins, incumbent, retired business executive. • Michael Shepard, college instructor for cultural & environmental sustainability. District 2. The Candidates: • Ken Bell, Owner/President Best Recycling and other companies. • Barry Wenger, Department of Ecology environmental planner. The winners of these races will help dictate the economic future of the County. Business leaders should understand what is at stake. Today, our national political dialogue is very divisive. This often intimidates good people from participating in politics. The most active and loudest voices are usually heard. Sometimes they drown out common sense. Unfortunately, many of those loud voices in Whatcom County sound off against economic growth and our important backbone industries. It is essential to participate in order to protect economic interests. These are local issues, not national, and they are nonpartisan. Understandably, given Whatcom County’s beauty and location, many citizens in this community have concerns about protecting the environment and stopping urban sprawl. In response, County officials have approved limited growth policies through restrictive zoning, regulation, and moratoriums on key industries and companies. The current County Council has imposed moratoriums on rural building permits and they have limited development through zoning. They have imposed antigrowth moratoriums on the largest and highest paying job providers WHATCOMBUSINESSALLIANCE.COM | 51
WBA ADVOCACY: ELECTION 2017
PROVIDING ENERGY. IMPROVING LIVES. We’re committed to improving lives in the communities where we live and work. That’s why we support safety, preparedness and relief initiatives to mitigate the effects of natural disasters. We also contribute to local nonprofit organizations, encourage employee volunteerism and invest in programs aimed at improving science, technology, engineering and math education. We are the Phillips 66 Ferndale Refinery, and we’ve been a proud member of this community since 1954.
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at Cherry Point. They enacted a plan that reduces trade and export opportunity by denying a fourth export pier on the West Coast’s only remaining developable deep water port, even though it has been approved and permitted. This move doesn’t stop just coal; it stops farm, tech, or manufactured products. The County has also imposed stifling and often redundant regulations on local farm producers in the name of sustainability. These policies potentially have negative consequences – intended or unintended – on the quality of life, economic growth, and employment opportunities in the County. Such policies can make the County unattractive for new industry. Strong communities compete for new business, not discourage it. According to the U.S. Census Bureau and U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Whatcom County population is both aging and
growing rapidly, but private sector jobs are not keeping up. (See my article on page 46, “The Price of No-Growth.”) The poverty rate is higher than national and state levels. Homelessness is increasing. And affordable housing is non-existent. Take any off-ramp from I-5 in Bellingham during the work day, and you will see exactly how (in) effective Bellingham urban planners have become. These are real community issues and require real business involvement and expertise to help solve them. Businesses must operate in an ever more complex and technical world. Competition is steep. If a business can’t adjust rapidly, chances of survival are reduced. Local business leaders must pay attention to local policies as much as to their markets – because they are interrelated. Employees should know what will protect their com-
munity, their jobs, and their quality of life. Participation in an off-year election like this year is often low. In the 2015 Whatcom County general election, about 61,000 people voted of 129,000 registered (47%). In the 2016 Federal election, about 114,000 out of 139,000 registered voters participated (82%). Low turnout ensures that many voices and business concerns will not receive representation in policy. Take the time to learn the issues, educate your workforce, and make your voice heard. Your business and your future depend on it. Election Day is Nov. 7. The voter registration deadline is Oct 9. Ballots will be mailed Oct. 18. All ballots must be mailed or placed in a ballot dropbox by Nov. 7 (locations listed on co.Whatcom.wa.us)
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Mount Vernon 360-424-4471 WHATCOMBUSINESSALLIANCE.COM | 53
ELECTION ANALYSIS – PORT COMMISSION ELECTION
ACTIVITY HAS INCREASED in the Port of Bellingham Shipping Terminal located in Fairhaven, seen here with the Alaska Ferry docked. Last month a 590-foot bulk carrier, MV Diana Bolten, delivered 10,700 metric tons of organic corn and soybeans exported from Turkey – the first shipping terminal activity since 2000. (Photo courtesy of Port of Bellingham) 54 | BUSINESSPULSE.COM
Economic Future of Whatcom County Could Hinge on Port Commissioner Race Direction of major projects and opportunities to be decided By MIKE McKENZIE
he Port of Bellingham stands at a tipping point in the upcoming election: Will its future evolve around its stated â€“ and Washington state designated â€“ mission of driving economic development, or around an environmental theme pushed by special interests? In extensive research and dozens of interviews for this article, one statement leapt off all the pages, coming from one candidate for one of the two open positions on the Port Commission (a three-person governing body). WHATCOMBUSINESSALLIANCE.COM | 55
ELECTION ANALYSIS – PORT COMMISSION ELECTION
INSIDE THE GRANARY: This trio, seen inside the renovated Granary Building – Louis Parr, Tara Sundin, and Rob Fix – play key roles in the completion of Phase I of the waterfront redevelopment plan. Parr is the construction manager representing Harcourt International, the developer. Sundin serves as community & economic development manager for the City of Bellingham, which is in charge of completing Granary Boulevard and Laurel Street for access. And, Fix has filled the executive director’s chair at the Port of Bellingham since October 2011. (Photo by Mike McKenzie)
Michael Shepard, a university professor of environmental studies and anthropology, led off one response to interview questions from the board of directors of the Working Waterfronts Coalition: “The Port is a government, not a business….” Before delving into what’s at the heart of that message, know this: That singular thought surfaced at the center of conversations and interviews with virtually every one of more than a dozen stakeholders who talked to us about the Port election next month, and from public forums featuring the candidates. Other elections, to be sure, bear importance on matters impacting all Whatcom County residents in its various communities. But none jumps out as much headline-type potential influence on the economic and life style welfare of the whole of Whatcom County. The interviews and conversations included persons of all political bents, of various professions, and City, County, and Port officials, none of which would endorse candidates publicly. Very few non-officials would, either. 56 | BUSINESSPULSE.COM
One did. Doug Thomas, the president and chief executive officer at Bellingham Cold Storage, publicly endorsed a candidate in each district with a seat to fill – Dan Robbins (the incumbent) in District 1, and Ken Bell in District 2. Michael Shepard
“This election seems different from any other we’ve had. I don’t remember a Port election with such clearly different and sharply contrasting candidates.” – Doug Thomas, Bellingham Cold Storage
His thoughts weigh in from the position of one of the city and county’s largest companies in terms of international clientele, employees, and annual sales revenues. Plus, Bellingham Cold Storage at 71 years and counting is one of, if not the longest-running tenants occupying the Port of Bellingham property – a prime real-estate location on the Squalicum Harbor waterfront.
(An aside: Bornstein Seafoods stands as another huge, global commercial fishing enterprise that’s been a Port lessee for decades, and its retired owner, Jay Bornstein, also endorsed the same candidates. Point being, Thomas and Bornstein know the ropes within the Port operations; been there, done that, and therefore hold significant voices in the inner workings of the Port staff and commission.) One of Doug Thomas’s partial comments cut to the core of the chase in the same way Michael Shepard’s did. “This election,” Thomas said in a conversation at his office, “seems to be business versus special interests.” Shepard, reiterating, is a professor of environmental studies. His
The Bellingham airport, used by over 800,000 passengers annually, is a significant economic and business development driver and under the purview of the Port of Bellingham Commissioners.
opponent Dan Robbins, the man holding the office as current president of the Port Commission, is a semi-retired businessman who ran seven different companies during his career. In District 2, candidate Barry Wenger served more than 40 years with government environmental agencies, most recently the state Department of Ecology, and on his résumé he lists one long-ago employment in a private-sector business. In a response to questions from the Working Waterfront Coalition, Wenger replied, “Wenger: As a Washington state Department of Ecology senior environmental planner, I worked at dozens of cities and their ports all over the state, especially in Puget
Sound, to redevelop and clean up their waterfronts in an environmentally-sound and economically responsible way.” His opponent, Ken Bell, owns and operates two companies (and his wife, DeeDee, a third company in the family). Not incidental to the Port mission, Bell’s companies both operate in the environmental cleanup industry in remote locations, developing new technologies, and he is headquartered on Port property. Plus, he formerly worked for the U.S. Environmental Agency. “It seems as though that regarding the issues of environment it often comes across as you’re either for us or you’re against us. Environmental stewardship and doing good business and making profit are not mutually exclusive,” Thomas said. “We have a good case in point here at BCS – our adoption of Squalicum Creek for a stormwater project, and our employees’ commitment to cleanup in area streets. Every good, successful business person I know has
a genuine concern for protecting our environment.” Neither Business Pulse, nor the organization for which it is the official publication, the nonprofit and nonpartisan Whatcom Business Alliance, officially endorses candidates in elections. At the same time, both organizations – the publication and the WBA membership – have complete transparency in their missions, i.e., to support, encourage, and advocate for a thriving business and economic climate in Whatcom County that leads to community prosperity. Even without an endorsement, you get the drift of why we’ve identified the Port Commission election 2017 as a big deal. It’s a three-person body; two votes carry the day on any given issue. Three major factors besides environmental concerns have surfaced as critical to the Port Commission outcome in November – 1. experience; 2. business experience, and (3.) backing. Let’s examine them briefly: WHATCOMBUSINESSALLIANCE.COM | 57
1. One way, we could have new commissioners with no experience as elected officials teaming with Bobby Briscoe, a commercial fisherman who was elected just two years ago. Another way, both Robbins in completing his four-year term and Bell would bring experience from having been elected by public vote. Bell served on both the Whatcom County Planning Commission and the Whatcom County Charter Review Commission. 2. Re: the business side of the matter, let’s revisit Doug Thomas and Michael Shepard commentary: Thomas put an emphasis in the beginning of his conversation on the importance of working well with the Port. “All 71 years we’ve been here we’ve been willing to work with whoever was elected. And we will continue to do so. “But this election seems different from any other we’ve had. I don’t remember a Port election with such clearly different and sharply contrasting candidates.” That compelled him to make endorsements on Robbins’ and Bell’s website portals. “The reasons that I did,” Thomas said, “were that we’ve worked extensively with Dan and Ken. They’re reasonable, practical, and common sense in approach to Port issues. We need people looking out for the needs of the community, not for special interests.” In fairness Shepard, who has funding from several known progressive organizations, addressed jobs and economy in a response to this question from Working Waterfront Coalition. “The (Port) Commission often faces decisions that pit the bottom line against the public interest. What criteria would you employ to make these decisions?” He responded, in part, “(The Port) has a unique mission around economic development (which) attracted me to run for the office. The Port does the most good for the most people when it invests 58 | BUSINESSPULSE.COM
The ‘why’ of all the talk about business in Port election The Port of Bellingham is an ADO. What does that mean? It means the Port serves by statute as the official, appointed Associate Development Organization for Whatcom County in partnership with the state Dept. of Commerce. Two days after the Nov. 7 election that includes two open seats on the Port Commission, the executive director of The Port, Rob Fix, will celebrate his 5th anniversary in that position. Fix knows, and knows full well what it means in terms of the Port’s bottom line and ability to drive commerce and development. “Rebuilding the waterfront economy and creating new employment opportunities for the citizens of Whatcom County are key objectives for the Port of the Bellingham,” he said in an interview about the importance of the upcoming Port election.” That’s a translation of what state law (RCW 43.330.080) directs the Commerce Department to contract as a partner with ADOs around the state; the law also directs the Port “to build strong relationships with public and private partners within their community….(and) leverage their state funding to obtain financial support in order to drive job creation, economic growth, and capital investment in their communities. All of this is why there’s so much buzz around who takes a seat on the Port Commission, come Nov 7. The statute declares 10 services – all economydriven – that the ADO must deliver. Two candidates are generally considered pro-business and have served in elected public office (Ken Bell and Dan Robbins); and two, while not anti-business, have no business background or elected public service experience (Michael Shepard and Barry Wenger). Conjecture runs rampant on that front, pro and con, largely drawn on political lines. Regardless of debatable points, Fix – who declined to endorse candidates – admittedly has concerns, whoever wins the seats. “It would be great if we voted the person, not the party,” he commented for this article. “The Port operates four lines of business that, combined with your tax dollars, allow it to pursue public purposes.” He was referring to airport, marinas (commercial fishing, recreational boating), marine terminals (shipping, ferries), and real estate properties/leasing. “Having a commissioner who understands the importance of the Port’s business lines allows us to keep the taxes low and still advance those public purposes.” He pointed to several examples of recent boosts in economic development -- All American Marine’s new $10 million boat manufacturing facility, the construction of Itek Energy’s new solar panel manufacturing facility, the restoration of the Granary Building, and new shipping activity at the Bellingham Shipping Terminal – and said, The results from the ballot boxes Nov. 7 potentially could affect how or whether those signs continue.
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ELECTION ANALYSIS – PORT COMMISSION ELECTION
public resources for the public good. Not every decision the Port makes is going to bring in the most revenue for the Port…. The advantage of a Port being a government instead of a private enterprise is that it can and should make decisions that take into account other factors such as job creation when making decisions.” The best source for a voter to examine what special interests might consist of, as well as endorsements, is the state Public Disclosure Commission website. By law, each candidate must list the donations he has received for campaigning, and his expenditures. That’s where a voter finds involvement of out-of-area financial support for a candidate, and financial support from special interest organizations, such as labor unions, nonprofits, and other groups both in and out of the county. 3. That brings us to backing. One major distinction stands out. Both Shepard and Wenger accepted endorsements from the Democratic Party, both county and state. Both Bell and Robbins decided not to accept any political party endorsements. That made us curious. We asked Bell and Robbins why? They responded: Bell said, “It is a nonpartisan position and should be a non-
partisan race. I want to keep the commission free from interparty conf lict. I want to remain above the fray. That way we might actually get things done.” Robbins said, “I want to put my community ahead of politics. You don’t have to be a politician to do Port business. I’m tired of the divisiveness. With a party endorsement you get branded – Democrat, Republican, Libertarian. Without one, I’m not beholden to any of them when it comes to voting what’s best for the community. We’re nonpartisan.” A thousand other points could be raised and thoroughly examined here, though that would involve campaigning, of sorts – and attempting to keep materials balanced among the candidates. In forums the candidates all have rhet-
oric about economy, jobs, maritime trades, the downtown waterfront redevelopment, and other areas that moderators and audience bring up. Here, the intent was to narrow the focus to some elements that demonstrate why and how this Port of Bellingham Commission election rates the spotlight among all other races around the county and its municipalities. Also magnifying it is the fact that the commissioners get elected by countywide vote, not by district only. Each voter gets to weigh in. And, as Nov. 7 approaches and ballots pour in, the question looming over the Port of Bellingham: Will voters push it forward toward a healthy, stealthy economic driver (its state-designated charge) or not?
60 | BUSINESSPULSE.COM
n e m o W m o c t a Wh in Business WWIB SELECTS 6 FINALISTS FOR ANNUAL PROFESSIONAL WOMAN OF THE YEAR
hatcom Women in Business, organized in 1978, has announced six women across a variety of fields as the finalists for their highest honor, Professional Woman of the Year.
The awards banquet for the top honor and distribution of scholarships to working women takes place Oct. 24 at the Four Points by Sheraton in Bellingham, from 5-9 p.m. The WWIB in its 40th year continues as one of the oldest and most encompassing network/referral sources for business women in Washington state. The WWIB’s mission promotes a positive image of professional women in business while developing leadership skills, strength through mutual support, mentoring and opportunities for business and personal growth. Their main event banquet takes place each October during national Women in Business month, drawing more than 300 to witness the celebration. According to their by-laws, to prevent a perception of favoritism, no finalist is a member of the WWIB. The banquet also serves as the organization’s major fundraiser annually. They raise scholarship funds for women of Whatcom County. Winners of scholarships are recognized at this highlight social event. Tickets remain on sale at the organization’s website, www.wwib.com.
WHATCOMBUSINESSALLIANCE.COM | 61
BUSINESSWOMAN OF THE YEAR
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Director, Learning & Development PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center (PHSJMC)
orn and raised in Whatcom County, Rachel graduated from Western Washington University with a major in community health. Right after graduation she began her career with PeaceHealth.
In her early career Rachel redesigned the new caregiver orientation program, practiced performance consulting, and trained other educators on how to deliver content effectively to adult learners by implementing creative and accelerated learning techniques. She went back to school and earned a graduate degree in organizational psychology (’05). She also has a certificate in Mastering Professional Management from the Institute of Generative Leadership. Rachel was promoted in 2012 to her present position, and her role now has expanded to coverage of Washington and Alaska. Rachel led the development and launch of the PeaceHealth Leadership Institute which is still thriving today with its array of programs that serve close to 800 PeaceHealth leaders. Because PeaceHealth St. Joseph is one of Whatcom County's largest employers and the only medical center in Whatcom County, Rachel's influence and work touch many. She is a key leader in creating and supporting a culture that delivers compassionate care, and she is passionate about developing other leaders of teams delivering bedside care. Evidence of her work and influence appears throughout the medical center. Rachel finds inspiration in partnering with leaders, teams, and individuals who share a deep commitment to enhancing the health and well-being of the communities they serve. Rachel has been reading about, observing, and designing engagement interventions for longer than 15 years, centering on the question, “How can we nurture engagement in the workplace and support employees to connect their work with what's deeply meaningful?” 62 | BUSINESSPULSE.COM
Drawing from extensive experience in planning and facilitating large group events and forums; she thrives on the challenge of bringing the “whole system” into the room. Rachel facilitates PeaceHealth's annual leadership summit and ministry formation program in which 100 leaders get together every spring. Community service ranks high in her priorities. Rachel has been a board member on the Whatcom County Public Health Advisory Board for four years and currently serves as the Board Chair. She joined several other local mothers to start Girl Strong, designed to build strength, leadership, and confidence through sports and outdoor adventures. Further, she served as a volunteer facilitator for the Bellingham Human Rights Film Festival. Rachel continues to pursue a PhD in healthcare leadership and change at Antioch University. Rachel and her husband Jason have two daughters, Allison (11) and Blakely (8).
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Sandie Mathewson Operations Manager/HR Director Rice Insurance
andie holds key leadership positions with Rice Insurance, primarily responsible for the overall performance of all personal and commercial insurance lines, and benefits. She also manages recruiting, hiring, staff development, coaching and support.
Sandie was born here and raised in rural Bellingham on her family’s farm. Yet she said she has always had a “big city persona” with the style and wardrobe to match. She started her business career in the banking industry, beginning in an entry level position of filing checks and documents. Just over 23 years later she ended her banking career as the vice president for training and employee development for Horizon Bank. After seven years in the insurance industry, and nearing her fifth-year anniversary with Rice Insurance, Sandie brought a finely-tuned ability to enhance business culture, to improve internal processes, and to objectively analyze opportunities and conflicts toward creating a win-win outcome. Sustained growth has landed Rice Insurance among the Inc 5000 Fastest Growing Privately Owned Companies in America. Her contribution has been a major factor in terms of employee attraction, development and retention. Mentoring has always been a major aspect of Sandie’s professional and personal life. While it is a specific part of her job description, it doesn’t stop there. Contributing to the growth of others and guiding them as they journey toward the best version of themselves is a passion that Sandie shares freely with those around her. Mentoring dozens of men and women over the years through her church, her work, and her circle of friends Sandie is known for taking younger women under her wing to support them through the highs and lows of everyday life. She will be the first to tell you that the
most rewarding aspect of this is not only seeing them succeed in their professional careers, but also creating lasting relationships with people from all walks of life. Within the insurance industry Sandie has been invited to many brainstorming sessions. Over the years she has contributed her input to various summits, including those for insurance agency software partners, insurance carriers, and sales development programs. On a local level Sandie gives generously both financially and through volunteer hours. A few of the organizations that Sandie has lent her talents and time to include Bellingham Childcare and Learning Center, Lighthouse Mission, Bellingham Food Bank, Habitat for Humanity, Lydia Place, March of Dimes, the Red Cross, and her church. Sandie resides in Bellingham with her husband of 30 years, Tom, and their daughters, Tiffany and Katie. A few of her passions include gardening, event planning, hosting, design and home décor, wine, food, and travel. WHATCOMBUSINESSALLIANCE.COM | 63
BUSINESSWOMAN OF THE YEAR
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Moonwater Executive Director, Whatcom Dispute Resolution Center
alm. Diplomatic. Those traits translate to the skills required in the face of negative stress and conflict that Moonwater manages as the head since 2005 of Whatcom Dispute Resolution Center (WDRC), a nonprofit that provides conflict prevention and intervention services.
She is committed to strengthening community through peaceful conflict resolution. Moonwater reports to the board of directors and carries out policies, objectives, and budgets that the board establishes for the operation of the agency. Moonwater supervises WDRC’s12-member staff and about 100 volunteers. Moonwater has the skills to direct this description of the organization’s mission: gently but firmly assisting individuals and groups in navigating through the challenges they face, while at the same time helping them to maintain integrity and focus. Moonwater’s background of more than 16 years in her field is both extensive and impressive. An experienced mediator, facilitator, and trainer, Moonwater earned an undergraduate degree in psychology from Whitman College and a master’s degree in public affairs (MPA) from Seattle University, where she specialized in nonprofit management. Her career took off in 1999 when she assumed multiple roles as the Washington Campus Compact director of student engagement, program manager and coordinator, and Key Area coordinator. Along with her duties at WDRC, Moonwater also is a lecturer for the College of Business and Economics at Western Washington University. Her rich background in myriad types of dispute resolution processes, including specialized training in restorative justice practices, helps Moonwater employ great compassion for high-conflict situations. She said she 64 | BUSINESSPULSE.COM
welcomes the opportunity to facilitate individuals and groups in difficult conversations that often result in positive resolution. Moonwater is the lead instructor for the WDRC’s 40-hour Professional Mediation Training and she provides customized conflict management training to numerous nonprofit organizations, tribal departments, local government, businesses, and associations. Moonwater assists dispute resolution centers statewide in increasing capacity of restorative practices at schools as they work on addressing student discipline. Community involvement and volunteering is important to Moonwater. She was appointed by the Whatcom County Council to serve on a task force. She has received the Whatcom County Bar Association’s Liberty Bell Award recognizing her years of service promoting the rule of law and amicable dispute resolution. Leadership Whatcom has used her as a guest presenter, as have various colleges, governmental agencies, and businesses. Two years ago she was honored with a Ken Glass Community Builder Award. Moonwater was born and raised in San Francisco and she has had opportunities to travel the world. A special favorite, she said, is Italy where she became engaged. Moonwater and her husband Wes live in Whatcom County with their two young daughters, Nyla and Tayen.
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Mandy Richards Program Co-host, KAFE 104.1 – Cascade Radio Group
very work day Mandy’s alarm goes off at 3:45 a.m. As one half of the popular “Dave and Mandy in the Morning” broadcast on KAFE 104.1 her day starts while most everyone is in deep sleep.
She said her work doesn’t feel like a job. Instead, she describes how co-hosting the show feels more like “I’m having coffee and chatting with friends each morning around the breakfast table.” She attributes hard work and personal sacrifices to eventually acquiring her career position. Mandy grew up in Poulsbo and moved to Bellingham in 1998 to study at Western Washington University. During that span she caught the radio bug, knowing that eventually she wanted to host a radio show. After graduating in 2002 with a double major in communications and psychology and a minor in anthropology Mandy worked full-time in politics as a legislative assistant for State Representative Kelli Linville (who now is the mayor of Bellingham). On the side she began a weekend internship at Cascade Radio Group, home of KAFE-FM 104.1 and four other stations. All the while she worked full-time while also taking on advanced education courses to earn her master’s degree in public administration. “Very late nights and very early mornings,” is an apt description of Mandy’s ultra-busy life. In 2012, after eight years of working part-time at the radio complex, all of her hard work and energy paid off when she earned the morning show time slot at KAFE 104.1, one of the most coveted position in radio. Mandy uses her time both on and off the air to help community causes. As a co-host she often highlights local nonprofits, businesses, and fundraisers. The broadcast offers her an excellent opportunity to bring local news and events to the attention of a broad base of listeners throughout the county, Puget Sound, and Lower B.C.
Mandy developed on-air the popular “Fabulously Frugal Facts” as her approach to personal finance, and the informative and fun “Mandy’s To-Do-List.” On a community level, Mandy was recently named one of the “Top 7 Under 40” jointly by the Bellingham Business Journal, Bellingham/Whatcom Chamber of Commerce, and Whatcom Young Professionals. She said that making time to mentor other young people is important to her. Mandy helped set up a mentorship program at Squalicum High School that brings leadership to students by linking them up with local professionals. She also mentors new first-generation college students through Futures NW. Mandy serves as a board member for The Max Higbee Center, Futures NW, and Whatcom Young Professionals (WYP). At WYP she started the charity of the month recognition program, and she has held the philanthropic position on the board for going on two years. Mandy has also uses her voice in radio to help promote local charities such as the Food Bank, the Humane Society, and the Royal Family Kids Camp. She’s secretary of the Cornwall Park Neighborhood Association and a general volunteer for The Pickford Center. She stated her personal philosophy as, “If you have a vision for the community you live in, you need to play an active role in making things happen.” In her spare time – ha! – Mandy listed that she enjoys gardening, happy hour, and “Pinterest fails.” WHATCOMBUSINESSALLIANCE.COM | 65
BUSINESSWOMAN OF THE YEAR
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Patti Rowlson Owner, PR Consulting
he term “self-made professional” fits Patti to a T. With zero experience or even a college degree in the field of public relations, she created and has grown PR Consulting for customized marketing services specializing in digital and social media platforms.
Her professional story encompasses quickly going from a young girl working in her family’s bakery after school to a young woman working in a high-rise building in Seattle. Fast forward to today, Patti has continued to evolve. She indicated that she learned from her father the importance of trust and what it means to have a strong work ethic. At 12 she began working after school in her family’s bakery in Sedro Woolley. Her career path, as she saw it at the time, was to be a cake decorator in her family’s business. Her father was passed away when Patti was just 16. Going to college was off the table. The death of Patti’s father, followed by a tragic accident involving her only sibling put her family in survival mode. Pattie put her head down and went to work. After going through a training program where she learned computer skills and medical terminology she went to work at a large hospital. It was there that Patti had her first taste of marketing and promotion. Transitioning to a property management company in Seattle, Patti furthered her marketing education by learning customer relations and company representation. With each new job, Patti evolved and prepared for the next phase of her career by continuing to learn and build her knowledge in areas where she could make a difference. During this time of professional growth Patti started a family and for a time put her career on hold, opting instead for a family-first lifestyle. As her two children grew, Patti operated a seasonal plant nursery in Everson for 12 years. It was this adventure which launched her into the world of small business marketing. She created a website and managed her first Facebook page. 66 | BUSINESSPULSE.COM
Then, in 2005, Patti reentered the workforce. Her career quickly evolved to include administrative work, management and operations, customer relations and marketing. It wasn’t long before a small business owner asked her for help with their business. As word spread, PR Consulting began in 2009 and the company has been growing and evolving ever since. Patti specializes in working with organizations and businesses of all sizes that are at critical growth points. Owners and managers “know that they cannot continue to do it all,” Patti said. “Having a professional company manage their social media or writing blog articles for their websites can make all of the difference.” Some of the industries that Patti has serviced include health care, real estate, construction, food service, property management, landscaping, a winery, promotional products, architecture, nonprofits, and more. She said her philosophy is, “Never stop learning.” When asked what resources have inspired her, Patti often refers to the book “Work the Pond” This book speaks to her, she said, because of its approach toward positive networking and practicing kindness with everyone you meet. She serves as a board member for Pass the Hat, helping families in our community by providing financial relief from tragic events. Patti resides in Bellingham and has two adult children, Kelsey and Branden.
ss e in s u B in n e m o W m o tc a h W
Teri Treat Inn at Lynden
eri Treat has developed a career that combines her father Neil Lathrop’s love of business and real estate with her love of the hospitality business. She said she remembers her father always saying, “You may enjoy owning real estate more than selling it…try it.”
So she did. First, she bought an Italian cuisine restaurant in downtown Bellingham. Then she either consulted on, developed, or owned several Whatcom County businesses (a resort, a donut shop, a pizza café, and a floral shop, and her own apartment complex). Her first date with her husband of 32 years, Matt Treat, was looking through a Real Estate listing book. He was buying and she was selling. Later, she flipped to buyer, developer, and manager of her own properties. Most recently, the couple partnered with Bellingham architect Jeff McClure and his wife Debra to purchase and restore the historical Lynden Waples Mercantile Building, which reopened last year after having been ravaged by a fire eight years previously. Teri operates the Inn in Lynden there. Teri also is the owner, developer, and property manager for GardenHome Apartments, a project that she developed from the ground up. She has more than 30 years’ experience in real estate development, property management and hospitality management since graduation from Western Washington University. She holds numerous professional development certifications, and she attended summer classes in hotel development at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y. Currently she’s enrolled in Rotary International Leadership courses. Her first business was il fiasco, operating it for nine years. The restaurant maintained a three-star rating in the Pacific Northwest “Best Places,” reaching annual sales of about $1 million. Teri went on to consult and help develop such notable Whatcom county businesses and buildings as Resort
Semiahmoo, the Prospect building in Fairhaven that is home to three companies – Rocket Donuts, Fat Pie Pizza, and A Lot of Flowers. She has overseen the Waples Mercantile Building projecton Front Street in Lynden, adding several locally-known brands such as stalwarts Village Books and Avenue Bread. Raised, rather than razed, from the ashes of a 2008 fire the Waples Building has been nurtured by Teri and her partners to listings of the 19th Century structure on the national and state historical registers, and to receving a state award for building rehabilitation projects. While it draws traffic to a café, a coffee bar, a tap house, a bookstore and a baby’s clothing store, the crown jewel is the 35-room Inn at Lynden. “Occupancy is up in the second year,” she said. Teri serves on the board for Whatcom County Tourism and was a past board member with Whatcom Community College, St. Luke’s Foundation, Whatcom Museum of History and Art, and co-chaired the YMCA historical community gifts capital improvement campaign The Inn at Lynden was a finalist for the WBA Startup of the Year earlier this year. Teri and Matt live in Ferndale with their son Cooper. WHATCOMBUSINESSALLIANCE.COM | 67
2017 WBA UP STEP ADVOCACY NWADVOCACY BUSINESS : ANALYSIS CONFERENCE : HIRST DECISION/PROPERTY & EXPO TAX IMPACTS
How do you build frameworks that ensure Business Success?
Find out at the
2017 NW BUSINESS CONFERENCE & EXPO By Tamara Anderson-Loucks
usiness owners and senior leadership face new challenges daily. How can you and your leadership team identify and implement systems to overcome those challenges?
Learn keys to making your business more efficient and more profitable during five forums featuring standout presenters at the 2017 Northwest Business Conference & Expo on Oct. 25, presented by Peace Health St. Joseph Medical Center and Security Solutions Northwest. Hear from five conference speakers and visit a lineup of 18 display booths from 1-5:30 p.m. at the Four Points Sheraton in Bellingham, hosted by the Whatcom Business Alliance (WBA). This annual conference offers business owners and team leaders an opportunity 68 | BUSINESSPULSE.COM
to learn how to build frameworks to achieve sustainable growth, to build a strong corporate culture, to manage costs, and more insights. “To scale and grow, businesses need to embrace key frameworks, which is what this conference is all about,” said one of the presenters, Debbie Ahl, drawing on her experience as founder and managing partner of Edgewater Advising. “It’s a great opportunity to learn from those that have achieved the kind of results business owners envision.” At the Expo attendees can interact with select vendors who offer products and services to help businesses run more efficiently. Capping off a day full of work with a little fun and relaxation, attendees will enjoy fine food, refreshments, and camaraderie at the Whatcom Business Alliance President’s Club Reception immediately following the conference from 5:30-7:00 p.m.
2017 NW Business Conference
Debbie Ahl, Founder and Managing Partner Edgewater Advising LLC, Bellingham BUSINESS FRAMEWORK FOR EXPANSION, SCALE & PROFITABILITY Debbie Ahl is a strategic leader with a passion for creating impact and results through full stakeholder engagement. She has a broad background in public, private, and not-for-profit organizations, including 20 years in the C-Suite and 10 years as a CEO accountable for top-line growth and bottom-line performance. Prior to founding Edgewater Advising, Debbie served as president and CEO of Sterling Life Insurance Company for nine years. Under Debbie’s leadership the company grew from $48 million to $1 billion in revenue and was acquired by Munich Re for $352 million in 2008.
Tyler Kimberley, President IMCO General Construction, Ferndale SUCCESSION INSIGHT: PROTECTING THE PAST, BY STRUCTURING FOR THE FUTURE Since 2013, Tyler Kimberley has served as president of IMCO General Construction, a successful second-generation, family-owned heavy civil construction firm. Tyler attended the Harvard Business School's Executive Education Program Families in Business from Generation to Generation. That program was pivotal in helping Tyler and the IMCO shareholders develop a structure for IMCO to survive and thrive into future generations. Under Tyler's leadership IMCO grew from $72 million in 2012 revenue to $117 million in 2016. IMCO, counting seasonal work, has an average of about 250 employees a year. Working with municipalities across Washington, Idaho, and Montana, IMCO also has gained new world-class clients including Boeing, Amtrak, and Rio Tinto.
Matt Mullett, President & CEO All American Marine, Bellingham ORGING THE ‘HELM’ & STEERING F SUSTAINABLE GROWTH Over the last 39 years Matt has had a variety of business management experiences. He helped develop a local pharmacy/medical equipment business, Roberts Medical, into a comprehensive home healthcare company, Option Care, with five offices and 125 employees. He also led the two-year charge to a turnaround, Ocean Kayak, and positioned the business for a profitable sale. In the spring of 2000 Matt joined All American Marine as the company’s CEO. Matt has been successful in building a strong management and technical team, relocating the business into a substantially larger and better-equipped facility on the Downtown Waterfront. He has developed an effective sales and marketing department to capture the growing demand for fuel-efficient ecotour boats, research and survey vessels, passenger ferries, and workboats. Matt become sole owner of All American Marine in 2012.
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2017 NW BUSINESS CONFERENCE & EXPO
2017 NW Business Conference Keynote Topics (continued from previous page) John Rauvola, President & CEO Superfeet Worldwide, Ferndale
TRIPLE BOTTOM LINE: EMBRACING EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT & COMPANY CULTURE Since joining Superfeet in 2013, John’s leadership and vision for the company has yielded a 27 percent growth in revenue. Additionally, he led the company in becoming 100 percent employee owned. John has a 30-year track record of growing market-leading consumer product companies through positive leadership, creativity, and initiative. John was formerly president and managing director of Bona US Inc. He tripled sales at Bona by optimizing organizational efficiencies and developing new retail markets.
Chris Schultz, Senior Vice President-International MOD Pizza, Bellevue MOD SQUAD: LESSONS FROM THE COUNTERCULTURE OF FAST FOOD Chris leads global growth and operations for MOD Pizza. Chris has been with MOD since Store #1 as an integral part of MOD’s growth. He has provided leadership in several facets during his tenure including in-store execution, customer experience, supply chain, store design, culinary direction, and the launch of the brand’s first international location in the United Kingdom. Chris’ driving goal is to make every customer at any MOD location feel as welcome and comfortable as if they were stepping into his own kitchen. Chris spent 13 years with Starbucks Coffee in field operations and as an operational advisor to the Starbucks senior executive team as the company expanded both domestically and internationally.
Purchase your tickets online today! The 2017 NW Business Conference & Expo is open to both WBA members and non-members. Individual and discounted group registrations are available: WBA Members Non-WBA Members
$45 individual / $159 group of 4 $55 individual / $199 group of 4
Tickets must be pre-purchased online at WhatcomeBusinessAlliance.com/Events. Tickets will not be available for purchase onsite.
Get in Front of Decision Makers
Exhibit at the Expo Exhibitors receive exclusive access to hundreds of Whatcom County decision-makers and business leaders, plus two tickets to attend the business conference and hear about practices that other business leaders strategically utilize to scale their business and increase profits. Just 18 booths are available – apply to exhibit today! To request more information and/or an application, email Jon Strong at email@example.com or call him at (360) 746-0407. 70 | BUSINESSPULSE.COM
Right Care. Right Here. CARE THAT KEEPS YOU WORKING When it comes to caring for you and your employees, PeaceHealth Medical Group has the expertise to help you and your team feel your best. Our annual physicals, immunizations and screenings are designed to keep you healthy and on the job. When illness strikes, our primary care providers and specialists are here with the diagnosis and treatment you and your employees need, right when you need it.
Find the care you need at peacehealth.org/phmg/bellingham WHATCOMBUSINESSALLIANCE.COM | 71
2017 WBA UP STEP ADVOCACY NWADVOCACY BUSINESS : ANALYSIS CONFERENCE : HIRST DECISION/PROPERTY & EXPO TAX IMPACTS
50 years of excellence and a future of new opportunities
JOIN THE CELEBRATION! STEM at Whatcom: Chuckanut Radio Hour
From the beginning, Whatcom Community College has been an innovator, helping Whatcom County students to discover and achieve their dreams. What started as a college without walls has grown into a college without limits. Yet, we are still driven by the original vision that founded WCC. We still put the individual student at the heart of everything we do.
with Nathalia Holt, author of “Rise of the Rocket Girls”
Heiner Theater October 5
TED Talks on PBS: Science & Wonder Film The Pickford Film Center October 17
Chamber of Commerce Business after Business WCC Campus November 16
See other 50th anniversary events at whatcom.edu/50
SIGN UP FOR CLASSES! Winter quarter begins January 3 Contact us at 360.383.3080 or whatcom.edu/beginhere
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2017 WBA UP STEP ADVOCACY NWADVOCACY BUSINESS : ANALYSIS CONFERENCE : HIRST DECISION/PROPERTY & EXPO TAX IMPACTS
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NW BUSINESS CONFERENCE & EXPO
Four Points by Sheraton, Bellingham “This is the must-attend conference of the year. No matter your company size, your industry, the challenges you are facing – or whether you are a CEO or budding manager – you will leave this conference knowing how to make your company more successful and more profitable.” — Tony Larson, President Whatcom Business Alliance
The KEYNOTE lineup at the 2017 NW Business Conference & Expo.
This year’s conference speakers from top-performing companies offer CEOs and leaders action items to implement into strategic development plans. Topics include: FORGING THE ‘HELM’ & STEERING SUSTAINABLE GROWTH Matt Mullet,President & CEO, All American Marine, has built an exciting company on Bellingham’s waterfront. Prior to his tenure at AAM, he has strategically grown and led the turn-around of other notable local companies. Matt will share what it takes to build a company, drive growth and create a sustainable future. MOD SQUAD: LESSONS FROM THE COUNTERCULTURE OF FAST FOOD Chris Schulz, senior vice-president for MOD International in Bellevue, will share the story of MOD Pizza’s growth, from its early days to becoming the fastest-growing fast casual restaurant in the U.S. Chris will break MOD’s experience down into bite-sized learnings from a dynamic and engaging story.
TICKETS FOR SALE ONLINE NOW The 2017 NW Business Conference & Expo is open to both WBA members and non-members. Individual and discounted group registrations are available:
WBA Members $45 individual / $159 group of 4 Non-WBA Members $55 individual / $199 group of 4 Tickets must be pre-purchased online at WhatcomeBusinessAlliance.com/Events.
BUSINESS FRAMEWORK FOR EXPANSION, SCALE & PROFITABILITY Tickets will not be available for purchase onsite. Debbie Ahl, founder and managing partner of Edgewater Advising and former president and CEO of Sterling Life Insurance Company, will discuss frameworks that businesses require to For more information on the 2017 NW Business Conference scale, grow, and sustain profits & Expo, including exhibiting and sponsorship opportunities, detailed speaker biographies, or to purchase tickets, visit WhatcomBusinessAlliance.com/Events. TRIPLE BOTTOM LINE: EMBRACING EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT & COMPANY CULTURE John Rauvola, president and CEO of Superfeet Worldwide in Ferndale, has created an exceptional culture in which he says, “employees know they matter.” They have created 80 percent market share with product distribution across the U.S. and 35 other countries. John will share how culture matters and how to achieve it. SUCCESSION INSIGHT: PROTECTING THE PAST BY STRUCTURING FOR THE FUTURE Tyler Kimberley, president of IMCO Construction in Whatcom County, will share lessons learned from Harvard’s Family Business programs that have facilitated growth, created greater stability and insight, and prepared the company for future generations. IMCO has realized nearly 30 percent growth over the last three years. The lessons here benefit any and every business.
WHATCOMBUSINESSALLIANCE.COM | 81
WBA UP: STEP UP ADVOCACY ADVOCACY WBA YOUTH : ANALYSIS : HIRST ENGAGEMENT DECISION/PROPERTY INITIATIVE TAX IMPACTS
The Initiative begins and the engagement grows By Business Pulse Staff
mproving education and connecting with young people make up two rather imprecise goals, but every great project starts with a basic idea. The Board of Directors at the Whatcom Business Alliance (WBA) knew that it was absolutely necessary for the future of this community that they get involved in youth education. They knew that the business community had to engage with high school students and make a positive impact on their future. Hence, the Youth Engagement Initiative was born, a partnership between the WBA and Junior Achievement (JA) to take a Job Shadow curriculum into Whatcom County high schools. The curriculum leads the students through a process of career consideration and provides them with the opportunity to visit local employers. They will do mock interviews and receive feedback 82 | BUSINESSPULSE.COM
on their résumés. The goal is to connect education (staying in school to graduate) with the exciting possibilities that the future holds. The Initiative is just one part of a larger strategy that will be driven by the Youth Engagement Committee, co-chaired by Laura McKinney, director of NW Government Affairs and Public Relations for Alcoa Intalco Works in Ferndale, and Tom Kenney, Washington Federal Regional President for NW Washington. “Connecting our students to the opportunities around them helps to make their education relevant. Studies have shown that relevancy in education is one of the key drivers for keeping students in school,” McKinney said. The goal for the WBA Youth Engagement Committee is to facilitate high school students in Whatcom County to graduate ready for their CCCs: career, college, and citizenship. The committee’s strategy involves connecting the business community with students and educators to create a pathway to success. The Initiative is the first step. Katherine Freimund, executive director of the Whatcom Literacy Council, serves as a volunteer on the
Youth Engagement Committee. “As a believer in lifelong learning,” she said, “I think this project gives students the opportunity to not only have relevant experiences that they can build upon, it also gives them exposure to the many people in the community who care about education/jobs/partnerships/etc. outside of school.” The makeup of the committee is an intentional mix of business leaders and educators with each bringing a different perspective to the table. McKinney provides prior experience with a statewide education initiative in South Carolina called TransformSC. “The business leaders and educators in South Carolina had been working together for over a decade to bring the state’s graduation rate to the national average,” said McKinney. “They finally reached their goal – 76 percent - in 2012. “But then they looked at each other and said, ‘That still means that we are losing 24 percent of children, and that is unacceptable.’ Whatcom County reached a graduation rate of 80 percent in 2016, but we are still losing 20 percent of our children – and that is still unacceptable.” Initially, the Youth Engagement Committee will look at industries that are growing in Whatcom County and gather data on the education and/or skills required for those jobs. The committee also will conduct an inventory of active programs in Whatcom County that connect business and industry with schools. “There is no need to reinvent the wheel here,” Kenney said. “We need to highlight examples of what is working, and leverage the success of those programs with other schools that could also benefit.” The immediate opportunities will bring resources to bear on identified gaps such as highlighted in a recent article in the Seattle Times, “Lots of high-tech factory jobs in U.S., but skilled workers are lacking.” Whatcom County has a unique situation with a four-year
university, a two-year community college, and a technical college all located within the county. Each offers programs that can help us prepare our students for current opportunities, but they can also help our students prepare for those that do not yet exist. “I am impressed with the WBA for embracing this approach, and I feel that there is potential for true impact in our community,”
Freimund said. The committee welcomes the participation of anyone passionate about education and excited to think outside the box for the future of our community. Contact Maggie Stafford for more information about the Youth Engagement Initiative and Committee (360.543.5654, or Maggie@ WhatcomBusinessAlliance.com)
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GUEST COLUMN: HEALTHCARE Roger Stark MD (ret.) | Healthcare Policy Analyst Washington Policy Center Dr. Stark is a retired cardiothoracic surgeon. He is the author of two books on national healthcare issues, including Our Health Care Crisis, How It Happened, and How We Can Fix It, and an in-depth study on the impact of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in Washington state. He has testified before three Congressional committees on the ACA. He graduated from the University of Nebraska College of Medicine, served residencies in Seattle and the University of Utah, practiced in Tacoma, and became a co-founder of the open-heart surgery program at Overlake Hospital in Bellevue.
The problem with Obamacare exchanges: Adverse selection, not cost-reduction subsidies
he Obamacare law provides tax credits for people earning up to 400 percent of the poverty level to help them purchase health insurance in the exchanges. The law also gives lower-income people additional money, so called cost-reduction subsidies, to purchase health insurance within the exchanges.
Administration could simply drop the lawsuit and stop paying out the unauthorized cost-reduction subsidies. The Congressional Budget Office recently weighed in on eliminating the subsidies. Its most publicized finding was that withholding the funding would add $194 billion to the federal deficit over the next 10 years. This number is based on the speculation that premiums in the exchanges would increase and that the increase in tax credits would drain billions off the federal budget. CBO often gets its estimates wrong, because markets often don’t react to a major policy change the way congressional number-crunchers expect. The funds the U.S. Treasury pays out for these The fundamental problem in the exchanges is not cost-reduction subsidies were never appropriated by the withholding of the cost-reduction subsidies. The Congress. The Obama Administration, however, did Obamacare exchanges suffer from adverse selection. an end-run around Congress and withdrew the money Insurance premiums in the individual market, both inside from the Treasury unilaterally. The Republican House and outside the exchanges, are of Representatives sued the rising rapidly because young, “Insurance premiums in the individual Obama Administration and people are priced out of won. The objection of leaders market…are rising rapidly because young, healthy the market. A higher percent of of the House of Representatives healthy people are priced out….A higher older and sicker individuals are was less about healthcare policy signing up, which drives up costs and mostly about preserving percent of older and sicker individuals and thereby makes the price of the people’s powers of electare signing up, which drives up costs and insurance even less attractive to ed representation under the people. Constitution. thereby makes the price of insurance even healthy This adverse selection has Article 1 of the happened since the exchanges less attractive to healthy people.” Constitution states quite began in 2014 under the Obama clearly: “No money shall be Administration. The death spiral of the exchanges began drawn from the Treasury, but in consequence of approlong before the issue making unauthorized cost-reduction priations made by law.” The case was appealed and subsidy payments out of the Treasury arose. now resides in the appellate court. Subsidy payments When the exchanges started, the Obama continue until the courts complete the appeal process Administration estimated that at least 40 percent of and make a final decision. enrollees would need to be young and healthy, which In a way, though, the voters already resolved this would provide the premiums needed to fund coverconflict by changing administrations. The Obama age for older, sicker enrollees. Since 2014 the level Administration, which initiated the subsidy payments out of young and healthy enrollees in the Obamacare of the Treasury, no longer exists, and the current Trump 84 | BUSINESSPULSE.COM
exchanges has never topped 28 percent. This shortfall points to the fundamental flaw in Obamacare: trying to force people to pay more for coverage they don’t want doesn’t work. In fact, most social policies based on government coercion don’t work, because people will always try to make decisions – especially in healthcare – that are best for themselves and their families, not because of what is politically convenient for the current administration in Washington, D.C. The debate over the failures of Obamacare will continue, but cost-reduction subsidies are not the core problem. They simply prolong the inevitable collapse of the Obamacare exchange marketplaces. Election Day is Nov. 7. The voter registration deadline is Oct 9. Ballots will be mailed Oct. 18. All ballots must be mailed or placed in a ballot dropbox by Nov. 7 (locations listed on co.Whatcom.wa.us)
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GUEST COLUMN: TAX POLICY Mariya Frost | Director, Coles Center for Transportation Mariya Frost is the Director of the Coles Center for Transportation at Washington Policy Center. Born in Russia, she and her family came to the United States in 1993 and she grew up in Washington state. She is a graduate of the University of Washington with a degree in Political Science She spent ten years working in the private sector and as a staff member at the U.S. House of Representatives and the Washington state senate.
State officials know a mileage tax is unpopular, but they want to impose it on us anyway
n their constant push to get more money, state transportation officials are exploring the idea of imposing a mileage tax on Washington residents – tracking when and where we travel and then charging us for each mile we drive.
usage charge are generally less convincing than reasons to oppose.” The reasons listed to support a road usage charge included messaging about electric and hybrid vehicles paying a fair share, stability as a funding model, and whether the gas tax is unfair to people who cannot afford newer cars. Messaging points about fairness are emotionally moving, but do not tell a complete or necessarily accurate story of why public officials want more revenue To gaug public perception of a road usage charge from (Washington) drivers where they already pay (known as a pay-per-mile tax, the second highest gas tax in the or PPM) and how Washington nation. State Transportation Commission What is even more concerning (WSTC) officials can impose Messaging points about fairness are about the July presentation: Public it despite its unpopularity, they hired a marketing firm to conduct emotionally moving, but do not tell a officials know that a mileage tax is unpopular in Washington state, a statewide telephone survey of complete or necessarily accurate story but they move past their own 602 Washington residents last of why public officials want more survey results to find messages June. WSTC presented their surthat will get them what they want vey findings in a presentation to revenue from (Washington) drivers anyway – that is, more revenue. the Road Usage Charge Steering Officials admit that to sell the where they already pay the second Committee on July 27. According new tax, the “road use charge will to the survey: highest gas tax in the nation need non-government messengers • 58 percent of surveyed res(government may not be the best idents opposed a road usage messenger).” Officials also say charge; they plan to “emphasize outcomes • 59 percent indicated that government does not (such as reduced congestion) that are important to do a good job managing transportation spending in Washingtonians over policy and technical details.” Washington, and This reasoning suggests that the flat 2.5 cents• 61 percent indicated that “…A road usage charge per-mile rate currently proposed is flexible and would is just another way for Washington government to tax likely be increased to price people off of roads. This is people.” called congestion pricing, and WSTC officials strongly advocate for it in their 2016 Annual Report. The survey also found that, for purposes of evaluIf public officials get the new tax they want, the ating effective messaging, “reasons to support a road 86 | BUSINESSPULSE.COM
money collected from drivers could be diverted to transit, which the Washington State Transportation Commission says “can play an impactful role in relieving congestion.” Their friends at Sound Transit would welcome more money, but would disagree that transit relieves congestion. Sound Transit admits that traffic congestion will get worse whether transit (and specifically light rail) is built or not. It is unsurprising that the WSTC, like other public agencies working against what the traveling public demands, is struggling to find messaging that works: • Washington State Transportation Commission: “Transit can play an impactful role in relieving congestion.” • Sound Transit: “We’ve never said we will reduce congestion.” • Washington State Department of Transportation: “We can’t build our way out of congestion.” Despite what public officials want, clearly real working families want real traffic congestion relief, not symbolic gestures about managing a growing problem. Unfortunately, the reason congestion relief is popular is because it is not actually provided. Drivers pay a tremendous amount of money toward improving roads, bridges, and highways, yet officials tell us to take public transit, or pay more to drive instead. This superior attitude by public agencies erodes public trust, which is clearly seen in the survey results reported to the steering committee. Rather than using the results to their advantage and plotting how they can push through a new tax that drivers don’t want, public officials should focus on responding to what people really do want: Traffic congestion relief and better roads that improve safety and mobility for everyone.
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GUEST COLUMN: SMALL BUSINESS Erin Shannon | Director, Center for Small Business & Labor Reform Erin Shannon became director of the Washington Policy Center for Small Business during January 2012. She has an extensive background in small business issues and public affairs. The Center improves the state’s small business climate by working with owners and policymakers toward positives solutions.
Washington is the fifth state to impose paid family and medical leave mandate
benefits paid at full wages) approved by voters last year tate lawmakers took one regular Initiative 1433. legislative session and two special sessions in Employers and workers will fund the paid family to agree on a 2017-‘19 state operating budget. and medical program with a new payroll tax the state Employment Security Department will collect beginAnd they have yet to write a capital projects ning Jan. 1, 2019. Employees budget. Still, they had will pay 100 percent of the tax The “job-killer” minimum wage in no trouble rushing to to fund the paid family leave push through a sweeping Washington is $11, and will increase to premium, while funding for the paid medical leave premium new law that makes $13.50 by 2020, and employers must will be split between employers Washington the fifth state (45 percent) and workers (55 provide paid sick leave and now paid percent). in the nation to impose a family and medical leave. The minimum In reality workers pay the full paid family and medical tax, because an employer paywage in Idaho is $7.25 and that state has leave mandate. ing payroll taxes is just part of
no paid leave requirements.
In the final hours of the second special session, SB 5975 easily passed the House and Senate, and Gov. Jay Inslee quickly signed it. The bipartisan proposal negotiated collaboratively by some lawmakers, the business community, and organized labor will provide the most generous paid leave benefits in the nation. Beginning Jan. 1, 2020 every worker in the state who clocks 820 hours in one year can get up to 18 weeks of paid leave annually, with a maximum of $1,000 a week in replacement wages. The leave could be used for the birth or adoption of a child, to care for a sick family member or to deal with the employee’s own serious health condition. This paid family and medical leave mandate is in addition to the new paid sick leave (which accrues at one hour of paid leave for every 40 hours worked, with 88 | BUSINESSPULSE.COM
the cost of doing business, like salary and benefits, of hiring someone in the first place. The higher that cost, the less flexibility the employer has to pay higher wages or offer other benefits. Businesses with fewer than 50 workers will be exempt from paying any of the premiums altogether, so employees of those businesses must pay the full 100 percent of the payroll tax. However, smaller employers that opt to pay the full tax could be eligible to receive “small business assistance” in the form of a state government grant of up to $3,000 for each worker that uses the paid leave benefit (for a maximum 10 workers each year). The measure also includes a provision preempting local jurisdictions from mandating their own paid family and leave laws. That’s long been a major concern for employers facing a growing patchwork of
differing labor laws (such as minimum wage and paid sick leave) from city to city. The new paid leave law was the culmination of months of intense negotiations among lawmakers, business, and labor. Early in the first legislative session this year Democrats and Republicans offered dueling, and dramatically different, versions of paid family and medical leave bills. After both proposals stalled, threats of a radical, labor-backed ballot initiative convinced many in the business community to push for a compromise. It was a lesson learned from last year’s Initiative 1433. After the business community convinced Republicans to hold the line on attempts by labor unions to increase the state’s minimum wage to $12, unions financed I-1433. Voters approved the measure and now employers are facing a $13.50 minimum wage and a paid sick leave mandate. With statewide polls showing that voters would likely approve an initiative to require paid family and medical leave, the business community decided not to roll the dice and instead conceded early. They gave in to labor unions and the Democrats and tried to hammer out the best deal they could cut. While the resulting law is the product of months of negotiations by lawmakers, labor unions, and some in the business community, not everyone agrees with the state’s landmark mandate on employers, or how it was rushed through in the 11th hour of the second special session. One lawmaker called the program “one step toward a socialist government.” Another said the program would become a “ job-killer” for businesses operating along the state’s border that must compete with businesses in Idaho not subject to the same costly regulations and mandates. For example, the minimum wage in Washington is $11, and
will increase to $13.50 by 2020, and employers must provide paid sick leave and now paid family and medical leave. The minimum wage in Idaho is $7.25 and that state has no paid leave requirements. During the committee hearing on the bill, one lawmaker expressed concern that while the proposal was negotiated by members of the business community, every one of them that he has spoken with “…has said we don’t
like the policy, but we’re afraid of an initiative. It’s been what I could call legislative coercion on the policy.” The head of Washington’s National Federation of Independent Business agreed, testifying, “Our members feel like they’re under siege; so either the legislature does something less bad to them, or they get something worse at the ballot box.”
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GUEST COLUMN: SMALL BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT JASON MERCIER | Director, Center for Government Reform Jason Mercier is the Director of the Center for Government Reform at Washington Policy Center and is based in the Tri-Cities. He serves on the boards of the Washington Coalition for Open Government and CandidateVerification, and was an advisor to the 2002 Washington State Tax Structure Committee.
Local income taxes illegal in Washington state
hree facts demonstrate that without a constitutional amendment and express legislative approval, a graduated income tax is illegal at the local level:
“City-county consolidation was authorized by the voters in 1972 when they approved Amendment 52 to the State Constitution. An Attorney General’s Opinion in 1975 created some confusion over the powers possessed by a combined city-county. The Legislature had not enacted any statutes clarifying the constitutional authorization for combined city-counties. Summary: The following clarification is made…. (2) A county, city, or combined city-county is prohibited from enacting an income tax….”
1. For eight decades Washington Supreme Court jurisprudence has found that income is property and that a graduated income tax is unconstitutional. 2. Local governments only have taxing authority by grant of legislative approval. A GRADUATED INCOME TAX IS 3. State law prohibits a local government from UNCONSTITUTIONAL imposing a tax on net income. According to the Washington Supreme Court (in a In order for a local government to impose any type 1951 ruling): “It is no longer subject to question in this of tax it must first have express authorization from the court that income is property.” This common-sense Legislature. As noted by this unanimous May 22, 2017 finding is important because this means an income tax Appeal Court ruling that invalidated an effort by the would need to follow the constitutional restrictions City of Seattle to impose a tax beyond its authority: for property taxes. This means, as the state Supreme “Municipalities must have express Court has repeatedly ruled, that a legislative authority to levy taxes…. graduated income tax is unconstiWe affirm the hearing examinRevised Code of Washington tutional because property must be er’s conclusion that the city lacked uniformly and at no more 36.65.030 states: “Tax on net taxed authority to tax roaming charge revthan one percent of its value. enue, but like the superior court, we income prohibited. A county, As to whether the state Supreme base that conclusion on the absence Court’s numerous rulings that procity, or city-county shall not hibit a graduated income tax are of specific statutory authority.” Not only has the state legislalevy a tax on net income.” “antiquated,” former state Supreme ture not granted municipalities Court Justice Phil Talmadge the authority to impose an income addressed this argument with a legal tax, lawmakers have passed a law expressly forbidding opinion in 2010 on the constitutionality of Initiative 1098 this type of tax. As Revised Code of Washington (state income tax ballot measure). Justice Talmadge said: 36.65.030 states: “Tax on net income prohibited. A “The proponents of a graduated net income tax in county, city, or city-county shall not levy a tax on net Washington have vociferously argued that these older income.” cases are no longer viable….However, since 1993, the Though the phrase “net income” is used, the legisWashington Supreme Court has been confronted with lative history of this law makes it clear the Legislature cases in which the continuing validity of the ‘income was focused on prohibiting any type of local income as property’ cases was questioned and has rejected the tax. As noted in the bill report: argument articulated in the Spitzer law review article…. 90 | BUSINESSPULSE.COM
Subsequently, in Washington Public Ports Association v. Dep’t of Revenue (2003), the Court re-again affirmed the continuing viability of the cases holding that a tax on income was a property tax.”
WASHINGTON VOTERS HAVE REPEATEDLY REJECTED AN INCOME TAX
The voters have been provided multiple opportunities to overturn the numerous rulings by the state Supreme Court declaring a graduated income tax unconstitutional. Each time, voters have overwhelming rejected those constitutional amendments (1934, 1936, 1938, 1942, 1970, and 1973). Washington voters also have rejected multiple income tax initiatives (1944, 1975, 1982, and 2010). In total, the people have made it clear on 10 straight occasions they do not want an income tax. In addition, voters in Olympia rejected a city-specific income tax proposal in 2016.
Because of this consistent rejection at the ballot box, income tax proponents no longer attempt to amend the state Constitution. Instead they hope that five justices will do what the voters won’t do, and impose an income tax by overturning eight decades of case law. Reiterating in conclusion: An income tax at the local level is illegal in Washington state. In addition, a graduated income tax is unconstitutional. Those advocating for an income tax should not willfully violate state law and the state Constitution in hopes of five justices undoing eight decades of case law. Income tax proponents instead should attempt to convince the Legislature and citizens to impose an income tax in the only way that is legally possible in Washington state – by passing a constitutional amendment.
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GUEST COLUMN: ENVIRONMENT Todd Myers | Environmental Director Washington Policy Center The Washington Policy Center is an independent, non-partisan think tank promoting sound public policy based on free-market solutions. Todd Myers is one of the nation’s leading experts on free-market environmental policy and is the author of the 2011 landmark book Eco-Fads: How the Rise of Trendy Environmentalism is Harming the Environment. His in-depth research on the failure of the state’s 2005 “green” building mandate receives national attention. He contributes to The Wall Street Journal.
Why shaming is used more than logic in climate policy
et’s assume, for the moment, that the strength of hurricanes Harvey and Irma were, in fact, due to human-caused climate change.
The fact, however, is that what actions we take on climate change must consider two important factors: • What those policies will cost. • How effective they are. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) – a United Nations agency that studies climate To be sure, this is hardly the consensus science. change – has a series of temperature projections for University of Washington climate scientist Cliff Mass year 2100. There are three reasonably likely scenarios. wrote recently that “human-induced Even if we take the highest likely global warming played an inconseknown as RCP 6.0 and quential role in this disaster,” referAlthough some people claim that scenario, can get to the best-case scenario, ring to Hurricane Harvey. renewable energy is the same RCP 2.6, we would only reduce It is possible, however, that climate temperature by about 1 degree change will impact future hurricanes, price or even less expensive than Celsius. either making them more powerful or natural gas or other fuels, those If temperatures increased by more frequent. What does that tell us 2.5 degrees Celsius in 2100, the about the policies we should adopt? who make this claim still demand average estimate is that the world Does it mean we should spend huge large subsidies. They understand would see average personal income sums of money on reducing carbon reduced by about a mere one peremissions? that despite the political rhetoric, cent, compared to 1.5 degrees Not really, actually. renewables cost more Celsius. If we could successfully When hurricanes Harvey and achieve that significant reduction Irma hit the United States, some in temperature, we would be one assumed these were evidence that we must take drastic percent better off than we would have been. action. Politicians, reporters, even comedians got into Doing that, however, comes at a cost. Renewable the act on Twitter, attacking anyone who would quesenergy and other carbon-reduction strategies are tion the need to act, given these disasters. 92 | BUSINESSPULSE.COM
expensive. Although some people claim that renewable energy is the same price or even less expensive than natural gas or other fuels, those who make this claim still demand large subsidies. They understand that despite the political rhetoric, renewables cost more.
The cost to decarbonize is very high, reducing the net benefit of cutting carbon emissions. Reducing the impacts of climate change would make us richer, but we must spend huge sums to get there.
tradeoffs. Emotion and shaming are, quite simply, more straightforward. Emotion, however, is a very bad way to make public policy. We can do many things to become more energy efficient in a way that reduces environmental risk and increases prosperity. The way we are having the discussion today, however, makes it difficult to get there.
Economic Forecast Breakfast November 15, 2017 7am â€“9am For more details visit whatcombusinessalliance.com/events
According to the Energy Information Administration, in 2013 alone the United States spent $5 billion subsidizing solar energy, which accounts for less than one percent of our electricity. By way of comparison, taxpayers spent only a bit over $1 billion subsidizing coal, which generates more than 30 percent. Subsidies should be removed for all forms of energy, but renewables receive far more subsidies than fossil fuels. The cost to decarbonize is very high, thus reducing the net benefit of cutting carbon emissions. Reducing the impacts of climate change would make us richer, but we must spend huge sums to get there. Some say the world should spend one percent to avoid climate change â€“ about the same amount we would gain from avoiding it. This is, in part, why so much non-factual hysteria arises every time we see a major hurricane or forest fires. The economics and science of climate change are both difficult and ambiguous. It is hard to make a convincing case considering the WHATCOMBUSINESSALLIANCE.COM | 93
GUEST COLUMN: AGRICULTURE Madilynne Clark | Agriculture Policy Research Director, Washington Policy Center Madilynne holds a Master’s Degree in Agricultural and Resource Economics from Colorado State University as well as a B.S. in Environmental Economics, Policy and Management from Oregon State University.
Farmers are environmentalists, despite the manure
rowing up, my family dinner table conversations were disgusting. Consider this fair warning if you are eating while reading this article.
we start regulating cow manure to an extreme, we essentially are banning the dairy cows that bring us milk and the beef cows that bless us with hamburgers – without improving the environment. These anti-farm efforts falsely claim that farmers and ranchers want to hurt the environment by disregarding My dad was a veterinarian, my mom was a dental water, land, and wildlife. These arguments ignore two assistant, my grandmother was the county communicasimple truths: ble disease nurse, and my sisters and I found ourselves 1. Farm families live on and often own the land they frequently on farms helping him care for animals. Very are accused of damaging. few topics at our dinner table were considered off-lim2. Many of these families have protected the land for its and we usually knew we had reached a new level of generations, and they intend for their farm to continue gross when my grandpa would set many years into the future. down his fork, done with eating, Farm families are the true In Washington environmental activists environmentalists; they work to ready for talking. The simple fact is that if you are waging war against cow manure. protect the land every day. love nature and the environment, The best way to illustrate how Their policies claim to protect the you have to deal with whatever much farmers care for the land is comes with it. For farmers and environment….Farm families are the by introducing you to a rancher, those who work with them, love of Dick Coon, whose cattle will one true environmentalists; they work to day become hamburgers, filet the outdoors is not sterile or sanitized. Sometimes, expressing love mignons, and tomahawk ribeye. protect the land every day. of the environment means getting Dick Coon is an Eastern dirty. Washington cattle rancher who Working on farms and assisting on veterinary calls, visually fits the stereotype, boots and all. He quickly manure is a frequent topic of conversation. Pig poop refutes the urban vision of the country hick who exploits stinks and requires very aggressive soap to wash off. the land. Like most ranchers I have met, he understands Chicken manure smells so strongly of ammonia that it the environmental problems, is well-educated on the best burns your throat. Cat litter boxes are disgusting. There science for managing his land, and cares for every inch of is a reason my dad would have me clean the cages at the his property and the surrounding eco-system. veterinary clinic. For example, he moves his cattle to new pasture When it comes to cows, however, the smell is not every other day, giving each field a rest, minimizing that bad. You quickly get used to it. When you are the impact of manure over the area. The cattle are not working at a dairy while in college you might show up the only beneficiaries. By carefully monitoring grazing for your classes smelling a little off, and not notice until along stream banks, the fish also benefit. your classmates start making faces. His movement of cows near streams imitates the natYet, in Washington environmental activists are wagural pattern of grazers like bison, elk, and other hooved ing war against cow manure. Their policies claim to mammals that improve a stream’s ecological diversity. Fish protect the environment. But they overlook that when biologists have found that the managed presence of cows 94 | BUSINESSPULSE.COM
along streams, including manure and the weight of their hooves, means the size and diversity of fish within the stream running through his ranch are above the average of non-grazed areas. A lifetime of working with farmers has shown me that farmers care more for the environment than any regulator, lawmaker, or urban social activist ever will. Farmers do more than just talk or post on Facebook. Every day 36,000 farmers and ranchers in our state live and work on their farms, dealing with the manure (figuratively and literally), and caring for the environment – all the while hoping that their farm will still be around for the next generation. Urban environmentalists who care about protecting the earth would do well to visit and learn from those farmers who do it every day. Our state’s best environmentalists are the people who love, live with, and work on the land to bring us the food we enjoy during our dinner table conversations.
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t e e r t S e h t n o e Scen RLD
SCENE ON THE STREET
T H F O I S T U O
ther-worldly. From another galaxy and planet. That’s the hyperbolic analogy used to describe Rocket Donuts & Acme Ice Cream in Bellingham. This shiny, silver space rocket – 25 feet high, and a monument to sci-fi movies – stands tall on the Downtown Bellingham scene, rising above 306 W. Holly.
Ice cream, donut, pizza, and, most recently, hamburger entrepreneur Jim Swift opened Rocket Donuts downtown in 2006. In 2013 he opened a second store at the corner of Harris Avenue at 11th Street in Fairhaven, where he since has opened FatPie Pizza and Zane Burger. The original Rocket Donuts & Acme Ice Cream store stands as an example of how Downtown Bellingham business continues to attract and support strong companies, even if the exterior of many buildings appears old and tired. 96 | BUSINESSPULSE.COM
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Work Life Balance TOP 10 HEALTHY LIFESTYLE TIPS You can do a lot of simple things to take good care of your health. Here are just a few.
Acts Of kindness Giving your time to a good cause lowers stress and depression.
Animal attraction Petting an animal immediately lowers blood pressure and heart rates, soothing mind and body.
Express gratitude. It lowers blood pressure while increasing feelings of optimism.
Hugging a friend or getting a massage increases the ’love’ hormone.
Bring out your inner child. Play invigorates your soul.
Stay positive Seek out things that make you feel good. Even forcing a smile helps!
Brain training Cognitive games or exercises are brain boosters. There are apps for that!
Stress less Stress makes life messy. Find ways to strike a better work-life balance.
The great outdoors Time outside helps vitamin D to fight inflammation and boost immune function.
Back To basics Focus on healthy habits, such as eating good foods, drinking water and regular exercise.
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