Business Briefs — July 2016
Grocery Outlet collects donations for 2nd Harvest
Through the end of July, Grocery Outlet in Kennewick will collect donations for its 6th annual Independence from Hunger Food Drive. Customers can look for specially-marked food items to purchase and place in a bin at the front of the store; pick up a pre-made bag filled with an assortment of groceries that have been identified as needed; make a cash donation at the register; or get information about hunger, food insecurity, and local/national resources for people in need. The Kennewick Grocery Outlet store, located at 1325 W. 4th Avenue, is independently owned and operated by Brandon and Alycia Shaver. Call Grocery Outlet at 509-586-6306, or 2nd Harvest at 509-528-6765 for more information.
State chamber to host debate
The Association of Washington Business (AWB) will host a debate between the presumed gubernatorial candidates, Gov. Jay Inslee (D) and Republican challenger Bill Bryant, pending the outcome of the Aug. 2 primary election. The gubernatorial debate will be preceded by a debate between leading Democratic and Republican contenders for secretary of state: Kim Wyman, the incumbent Republican, and Democratic challenger Tina Podlodowski. The debates, held in partnership with Greater Spokane Incorporated and Community Colleges of Spokane, will take place Aug. 17 at the Spokane Falls Community College Music Auditorium in Spokane. AWB was founded in 1904 and has nearly 8,000 members representing 700,000 employees. The statewide business association has hosted a gubernatorial debate every four years since 1992. Call 360-943-1600 for more information.
Benton County Park Board dedicates Vista Park
The Benton County Park Board dedicated Vista Park, located at 5520 W. Umatilla Avenue in Kennewick, at a ceremony in early July. Vista Park was established in 1970 and in 2015, the board decided to replace the original playground equipment with a new play structure, clean the east wall of the park’s retaining wall, plant a new tree and install a new irrigation system and lawn.
U.S. sweet cherry production decreases
United States’ sweet cherry production for 2016 is forecast at 318,000 tons, down 6 percent from 2015. Washington is expected to finish the season with 195,000 tons, down 15,000 tons compared to 2015 and 42,000 tons less than 2014. National tart cherry production, on the other hand, is forecast at 309 million pounds, up 39 percent from 2015. Washington State’s tart cherry production, at 24.4 million pounds, is close to 2015’s 25 million pounds and slightly higher than 24.3 million pounds in 2014. Growers in Washington and Oregon had a record early harvest this year due to warm weather.
Japan, Washington aim to strengthen trade ties
In late June, Gov. Jay Inslee and Kenichiro Sasae, Japan Ambassador to the United States, met to sign a Memorandum of Cooperation to strengthen trade ties between Japan and the state of Washington. In 2015, Japan was Washington’s third largest export market, with more than $5 billion in goods exported. The memorandum focuses on opportunities for collaboration in aerospace, life sciences, clean energy, agriculture, and information and communication technologies.
Pasco School District seeks committee members
Pasco School District No. 1 is looking for parents of children attending Pasco schools to serve on its curriculum review committees. In the coming year the district will review K-12 curriculum in the areas of science, social studies, physical education, art, drama, music, leadership, world languages and technology. Standards and materials will be reviewed to make recommendations for core curriculum for school board adoption by May 2017. Committees’ meeting dates and times will be determined by committee members, but will include evenings and possibly some weekends. Call 509-546-2659 or visit psd1.org/page/7821 to apply. Deadline is Aug. 1.
State’s average wage increases
Washington’s annual wage grew by 2.6 percent in 2016 to $56,273, according to the state Employment Security Department. The average weekly wage rose from $1,054 in 2014 to $1,082 in 2015. These figures include those wages that are covered by unemployment insurance. Much of the increase was driven by a 5.9 percent increase in total earnings, which grew by nearly $9.5 billion in 2015. The average number of workers covered by unemployment insurance grow by 94,629 in 2015. Beginning in 2017, employers will pay unemployment taxes on the first $45,000 paid to each employee, up from $44,000 in 2016. Visit www.esd.wa.gov for more information.
CPAAS in Prosser to lead ag drone research
Washington State University and DJI, the world’s leading commercial drone manufacturer, have teamed up to study the research and use of unmanned aerial systems in precision agriculture. The two organizations will jointly develop methods to improve agriculture with unmanned aerial systems by making farms more efficient, reducing waste, protecting the environment and increasing crop yields. This is DJI’s first partnership with a U.S. university. WSU’s Center for Precision and Automated Agricultural Systems (CPAAS), based in Prosser, will lead the effort. CPAAS provides the Pacific Northwest agricultural community with the latest technology and focuses on high-impact research outcomes. DJI is headquartered in Guongdong, China. In 2015, the company released its first drone developed specifically for agriculture, the DJI Agras MG-1.
Visit Tri-Cities seeks nominations
Visit Tri-Cities is in search of nominations for its annual Excellence in Service Award. Community members are encouraged to nominate their favorite business or individual that best exemplifies outstanding customer service in the region. The award program celebrates those in the tourism and service industry. The winner will receive a $500 gift card, sponsored by Battelle, when announced at Visit Tri-Cities’ annual meeting in November. To nominate, go to visittri-cities.com/excellenceinservice.
Gov. Inslee issues LGBTQ safe place directive
In late June, Gov. Jay Inslee issued a directive launching a Safe Place WA initiative to promote LGBTQ inclusion practices and policies, as well as a state employee resource group to develop and share best practices for creating safe and inclusive environments in state government offices, for both employees and the customers they serve. Safe Place WA was inspired by a program launched last year by the Seattle Police Department, which engages local businesses and organizations in providing safe environments for members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning/queer community to request and wait for police assistance. Safe Place WA will work to ensure public-facing state offices are recognized as safe and inclusive places for LGBTQ Washingtonians.
Cancer Center holds tourney
The HAPO Golf Classic, which supports the Tri-Cities Cancer Center and the Tri-Cities Cancer Center Foundation, is set for Aug. 19 at Canyon Lakes Golf Course in Kennewick. The Tri-Cities Cancer Center is the result of efforts to bring a system of integrated cancer care to the community. Call 509-737-3413 for sponsorship information or to register a team.
Pasco ranked 10th fastest-growing city
According to the Office of Financial Management, Washington State’s population grew by an estimated 1.73 percent over the past year—the largest increase since 2007. The number of people in the state is now 7,183,700. Net migration (people moving in vs. people leaving) was the primary driver for the growth, annexation and natural increase the others. The top ten cities for population growth were Seattle, Sammamish, Bellevue, Tumwater, Tacoma, Vancouver, Federal Way, Renton, Everett and Pasco. Housing growth in the state also increased by nearly 6 percent compared to the previous year.
McCurley provides blankets, hope
McCurley Integrity Subaru and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society partnered to provide blankets and messages of hope to patients undergoing cancer treatment at Lourdes Medical Center. Customers were encouraged to share personalized messages of hope to patients in their community, and the blankets were donated through the Subaru Loves to Care initiative. The blankets and messages were presented to Lourdes Hematology and Oncology in early July. Lourdes Health is celebrating 100 years of care in the community. A non-profit organization, Lourdes is a member of Ascension Health and employs more than 850 associates and has more than 200 physicians on medical staff.
Pasco School District awarded STEM grant
In late June, Washington STEM, in partnership with Washington’s Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI), announced the second round of recipients for $4 million in grants to support computer science education for the 2016-2017 school year. The grants make it possible for recipients to train teachers in computer science, provide and upgrade technology needed to learn computer science, and expand access to students from groups underrepresented in STEM. Grant recipients must partner with private organizations and individuals to receive a 1:1 match, effectively doubling the state investment in computer science education from $2 million to $4 million. Locally, Educational Service District 123 will build upon the efforts of the Mid-Columbia Computer Science Initiative to expand computer science professional learning and recruit teachers from underrepresented populations in STEM. Royal School District will develop field trips to organizations in high-tech industries that showcase STEM careers and provide job-shadowing opportunities.
Microsoft to purchase LinkedIn
In mid-June, Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) and LinkedIn (NYSE: LNKD) announced the companies had entered into an agreement under which Microsoft will acquire LinkedIn for $196 per share in an all-cash transaction valued at $26.2 billion, inclusive of LinkedIn’s net cash. LinkedIn will retain its distinct brand, culture and independence. Jeff Weiner will remain CEO of LinkedIn. LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network, with more than 433 million members worldwide. Microsoft aims to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more. The deal is expected to close by the end of the year.
Senior Life Resources receives donation
The Grainger Foundation, an independent, private foundation based in Lake Forest, Ill., has donated $3,100 to Senior Life Resources Northwest to purchase a sandwich and salad prep refrigerator for its new commercial kitchen for the Mid-Columbia Meals on Wheels program. Misty Firkins, manager of Grainger Inc.’s Pasco location, recommended the donation. Senior Life Resources and Mid-Columbia Meals on Wheels have served residents of Benton and Franklin counties since 1974. Visit seniorliferesources.org for more information.
Volunteers spruce up Boys and Girls Clubs’ main branch
Last month, more than 80 volunteers helped paint and clean the Boys and Girls Clubs of Benton and Franklin Counties’ 22,000-sq.-ft. main branch at 801 N. 8th Avenue in Pasco. Windermere Tri-Cities volunteers chose to help as their annual Day of Service project. Bechtel sent its summer interns as part of its “Summer of Service” program. Sherwin Williams of Kennewick donated 20 gallons of quality paint. The Boys and Girls Clubs of Benton and Franklin Counties is committed to empowering all young people to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens.
Fuel tax, licensing fees increased
The state fuel tax and several licensing-related fees increased July 1. The increases were approved by the Legislature in 2015 as part of Connecting Washington, a transportation package to fund transportation projects around the state. The state fuel tax for both gas and diesel increased 4.9 cents per gallon, to 49.4 cents. State fuel taxes provide funding for state, county and city transportation projects and maintenance, ferry construction and operations, and other transportation-related needs. Other increases include Enhanced Driver License fees, several commercial driving license (CDL) fees, electric vehicle renewal fees, motor vehicle weight fees and gross weight license fees.
Lourdes opens Desert Hope
Lourdes Health has opened Desert Hope, a 12-bed, 24-hour-care facility for individuals to safely withdraw from alcohol and/or drugs. A typical stay at the facility, located at 1020 N. 7th Avenue in Pasco, lasts three to five days. Once completed, the individual will be connected with the appropriate level and nature of care. For more information, call 509-416-8810 or visit yourlourdes.com/counseling-center.
Kennewick City Council affirms parking plan
In late June, the Kennewick City Council approved a resolution to affirm the City’s commitment to develop a parking plan in conjunction with the Kennewick Public Facilities District (KPFD) to add up to 1,000 parking spaces as needed to support new facilities. The City of Kennewick owns 15 acres near the Three Rivers Entertainment District and is under contract for another 14 acres. The land provides development opportunities complementary to the District, and the Port of Kennewick’s master planning efforts for Vista Field. The Council supported the KPFD submission of proposition to the voters to build a multi-purpose entertainment facility, including a large venue Broadway-caliber theatre, expansion and improvement of the Three Rivers Convention Center and connection of the facility to the Toyota Center.
Planning for land transferred from DOE begins
The Port of Benton and City of Richland have announced the master-planning process of 1,341 acres of federally transferred property north of Horn Rapids Road. The property, previously owned and managed by the Department of Energy, was transferred earlier this year to the Tri-City Development Council. In turn, the Port of Benton has been allotted 760 acres and the City of Richland 581 acres, with the intent of holding a large parcel of 200-plus acres for a clean energy manufacturer. The planning and zoning phases will take approximately six months to complete, followed by draft master plan concepts in early 2017. JUB Engineers of Kennewick was selected to develop the plan with $50,000 in grant funding secured by the Port of Benton from the State of Washington Community Economic Revitalization Board (CERB.) CERB granted the funds for a master planning feasibility study to assess the land for clean energy and biosciences target industry sectors. The City of Richland and the Port of Benton will contribute match funding of $48,820 each, for a total project cost of $147,640. Visit portofbenton.com or ci.richland.wa.us for more information.
BBB alerts about award scam
Better Business Bureau (BBB) serving the Northwest has received multiple reports of an email scam targeting small businesses. This ploy is known as the vanity award scheme, one the BBB has reported on in the past. The email informs organizations they are recipient of a “Best of (insert city name) Award.” But to claim their award, they have to pay up. The names attached to the emails include the Award Program, Business Recognition and Award Connections. The websites email recipients are being directed to include awardconnections.org, existial.org, cortist.org and encountry.org. BBB recommends consumers ask questions, know the nomination process, scrutinize any award programs that claim a cost and research questionable offers. Go to bbb.org for more information.
Reading Corps seeks members
The Washington Reading Corps AmeriCorps is looking for people passionate about literacy to work with kids in Kiona-Benton, Prescott, Prosser and Wapato school districts. Washington Reading Corps members tutor struggling readers, help kids learn to love reading, and plan school and family literacy events. Reading Corps volunteers must be 18 years or older. They commit to a 10-1/2 month term of community service through AmeriCorps. In return, they receive a modest living allowance, health insurance, training and an educational scholarship. Reading Corps is part of the federal AmeriCorps program and is administered by the state Employment Security Department. For more information, visit washingtonservicecorps.org or call 888-713-6080.
HHS increases oral health access
In June, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced $4.2 million in funding to 12 Washington health centers to increase access to oral health services, as part of $156 million awarded nationwide. The awards from the Health Resources and Services Administration enable health centers to expand integrated oral health care services and increase the number of patients served. It is anticipated that health centers across the U.S. will hire about 1,600 new dental staff and treat 785,000 new patients. Locally, Tri-Cities Community Health in Pasco will receive $350,000.
WSU Tri-Cities seeks brick-buyers
Community members are invited to purchase a brick, bench or planter to support Washington State University Tri-Cities’ new student union building. Each item will display the name, organization or insignia of the participant and become a permanent part of the new building. WSU Tri-Cities broke ground on the 6,250-sq.-ft. student union building in May. It is set to open in fall 2017. For more information, call Ken Fincher at 509-372-7398.
Meals on Wheels receives grants
Mid-Columbia Meals on Wheels, a program of Senior Life Resources, has been awarded two grants. The first, a $2,000 award, was given for participation in the Meals on Wheels America national March for Meals campaign to raise community awareness and involvement. During the month of March, multiple activities were held, including a pub-crawl and meals delivered by community leaders. The second, a $2,500 grant, was received from Meals on Wheels America to support the local client pet support program. Seniors with pets are 36 percent less likely to report loneliness and have 21 percent fewer doctor visits than those without pets. Funding will be used to provide food, supplies and care for clients with pets. In 2015, Meals on Wheels had 325 volunteers who gave more than 24,000 hours and drove more than 84,000 miles to help serve more than 157,000 meals to seniors and those with disabilities in the community.
L&I receives $200,000 grant
The Washington State Department of Labor and Industries has received a $200,000 federal Apprenticeship USA State Accelerator grant to expand apprenticeship opportunities within the state. L&I will use the funding to increase the number of employers using apprentices to train their workforce, ease apprenticeship tracking and reporting requirements for employers on public work projects, and place information and technology apprentices in state agencies. There are more than 150 registered apprenticeship-training programs in the state with more than 11,000 active apprentices. Visit lni.wa.gov/apprenticeship for more information.
Union Pacific invests $14.3 million
Union Pacific will invest $14.3 million in 2016 to improve Washington State’s transportation infrastructure. The company’s private investment will enhance employee, community and customer safety, and increase rail-operating efficiency. A key project is a $10 million investment in the rail line along the Ayer Subdivision north of Wallula to replace almost 19 miles of rail. Freight railroads like Union Pacific operate on track built and maintained without taxpayer funds. From 2011 to 2015, the company invested more than $31 million in Washington. Union Pacific will spend $3.75 billion across its network this year, following investments of $33 billion from 2006-2015.
State adds jobs, unemployment holds
According to the Washington State Employment Security Department, despite adding 8,700 jobs from April 2016 to May 2016, the state’s unemployment rate remained at 5.8 percent for the fifth month in a row. The nation’s unemployment rate dipped to 4.7 percent in May. From May 2015 to May 2016, the state’s labor force increased by 97,100 people to 3.63 million.
Tourney brings in $50K
The Trios Foundation raked in a net income of more than $50,000—15 percent more than last year—during its Golf Classic June 17 at Canyon Lakes Golf Course. The event was supported by 68 local sponsors including Trios Health vendors and board members, as well as community businesses and citizens. A total of 184 golfers on 46 teams turned out for the fundraiser. PayneWest Insurance took the day’s top honors with 1st Place Gross Score, secured by team members Darrell Strong, Matt Henderson, Todd Ralston and Todd Stromstead. Second place went to Cadwell Laboratories’ team of Mark Olenius, Drew Brayton, Scott Freeman and Nik Boucher.
Fred Meyer rebrands coffee shop
In response to customers’ requests, Fred Meyer in Kennewick, 2811 W. 10th Ave., has switched from Tully’s Coffee to Starbucks. Fred Meyer employees staff the shop, but the menu and beverage service is under the oversight of Starbucks. Not every Fred Meyer coffee bar is slated to become a Starbucks; some will retain the Tully’s franchise, while others are contracted with Peet’s Coffee and Tea out of San Francisco. Fred Meyer has 132 stores in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Alaska. The company’s headquarters is located in Portland, Ore.