State launches offshore wind supply chain initiative
Washington state announced a new initiative to manufacture and distribute components the offshore wind power industry will require.
The new offshore wind supply chain campaign aims to position the state to lead the development of next-generation offshore wind technology, creating manufacturing jobs at home while reducing emissions everywhere.
PNNL officials join governor on trade trip to Australia
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory officials and other industry leaders joined Gov. Jay Inslee on a state trade mission to Australia Nov. 1-11.
The state exported $772 million worth of goods to Australia last year, including products for aviation and aerospace, medical and electric machinery, recreation equipment, wood products and other goods.
The land down under is the state’s 19th largest export partner.
Court shuts down websites targeting small businesses
The state attorney general’s office won a court order to shut down the websites and suspend the internet domains of two businesses and their owner after they sent hundreds of thousands of deceptive texts and emails targeting Washington businesses and nonprofits.
The large-scale text and email scheme directed businesses to a website link where they were charged $200 to file annual reports with the Secretary of State.
The businesses are EFile Business Inc. and Online Filing LLC.
Longtime Tri-City economist dies at age 71
A Tri-City based economist and Columbia Basin College professor died Oct. 19 at Kadlec Regional Medical Center in Richland.
Dean Schau, 71, of Pasco, was a retired labor economist for the Washington Employment Security Department and a retired economics professor at CBC.
He completed a bachelor’s at Central Washington University and his master’s degree at Washington State University in Pullman. He and his wife, Jean, recently celebrated their 49th wedding anniversary, according to his obituary. The couple divided their time between Pasco and Camano Island.
Einan’s at Sunset handled arrangements.
Pasco lowers speed limit on Burns Road to 35 mph
The city of Pasco is reducing the speed limit on Burns Road west of Broadmoor Boulevard from 50 mph to 35 mph, effective Nov. 15. Burns Road recently was annexed into Pasco, and city officials saw a need to reevaluate the speed limit because of new residential growth and increased traffic.
The city enlisted the traffic engineering firm CivTech to conduct a study.
Scholarships available for business owners, employees
Business owners and employees in Pasco and Richland are eligible for scholarships for workforce training and certificates through Washington State University Tri-Cities’ Workforce Training Opportunities program.
WSU Tri-Cities partnered with the cities of Pasco and Richland and Visit Tri-Cities to offer the scholarships. Several courses are offered, from wine tasting room training to fundamentals of business.
Scholarships are granted on a first come, first served basis, so applying as soon as possible is encouraged. The deadline for the online, on-demand courses is Dec. 4.
The recycling drop boxes located near Spengler Street in North Richland on George Washington Way have been permanently removed due to persistent illegal dumping on the site.
Alternative nearby recycling locations include the south end of the Uptown Shopping Center, and the Horn Rapids Landfill. Homeowners can also obtain a blue recycling container that is collected curbside every two weeks for $7.70 a month.
Washington wine legend Richard “Dick” Shaw died Oct. 27 at age 84.
Shaw was a builder, developer, farmer and businessman who became an investor in a Mattawa vineyard in the 1980s, kicking off a fruitful wine career. Shaw Vineyards grows grapes in seven different wine regions in the state, including Red Mountain, and supplies some of the finest wineries in the country.
Shaw and his wife, Wendy, were named Auction of Washington Wines’ Grower of the Year award in 2015 and were inducted into the Legends of Washington Wine Hall of Fame in 2018.
“What (Shaw) loved the most while in Eastern Washington was riding in the truck with Marshall Edwards, vineyard operations manager and very good friend, checking out the vineyards and talking to winemakers. Dick survived to see the end of the 2023 grape harvest,” his obituary said.
GET tuition program enrollment period is open
Washington’s Guaranteed Education Tuition (GET) program’s 2023-24 enrollment period is open through May 31.
The program provides families the chance to start saving for future education and career training costs and allows them to prepay future tuition costs by locking in today’s rates.
The unit purchase price for the new enrollment period is $120.16.
GET is a 529 prepaid tuition program, carrying a state-backed guarantee that units purchased now will always keep pace with in-state college tuition costs. Starting this year, savers can open a new GET account with as little as $25. Savings in a GET account grow tax-free and aren’t subject to market ups and downs. GET funds can be used for expenses beyond tuition and fees, including housing and food.
Students can use GET at nearly any public or private university, community college or technical school worldwide, as well as for apprenticeship programs and student loan repayments.
The flexibility of all 529 plans, including GET, is set to expand in 2024. Beginning in January, unused 529 funds can be rolled into a Roth IRA retirement savings account for the student.
GET, which opened in 1998, is one of two college savings options offered by Washington College Savings Plans (WA529). WA529’s other 529 plan, DreamAhead, is a nationally recognized investment-based 529 plan launched in 2018 to help Washingtonians save toward the full cost of college.
Washington residents who want to help a student save for future education costs can open a GET or DreamAhead account online at 529.wa.gov with no enrollment fee.
For questions about DreamAhead, call at 844-529-5845.
$3.5M in EV charging station grants available
Businesses, nonprofits and tribal and public organizations are eligible to apply for grants for electrical vehicle (EV) charging station infrastructure through the state Department of Ecology.
The agency is offering a total of $3.5 million in grants over the next two years to buy and install Level 2 charging stations and upgrade existing charging stations in public, fleet, workplace and residential locations, a news release said.
“The ‘Charge Where You Are’ grants are intended to attract applicants from a wide range of community groups over multiple funding rounds. The first installment will distribute $1 million, with priority given to projects in rural areas, as well as neighborhoods with limited access to EV charging and communities that are disproportionately affected by air pollution.
Funding for the grants comes from Washington’s Volkswagen diesel emissions settlement, the release said.
Applications for the first round are open through Nov. 16.
The Internal Revenue Service announced that individuals can contribute more to their 401(k) plans in 2024, increasing the limit to $23,000, up from $22,500 in 2023.
The limit on annual contributions to an IRA increased to $7,000, up from $6,500.
State’s 2022 ag value hits record high of $12.8 billion
The value of Washington’s 2022 agricultural production totaled $12.8 billion, shattering the previous record high of $10.4 billion in 2015.
The top five commodities in the state in 2022 were, in order, apples, milk, wheat, cattle/calves and potatoes.
Apples were valued at more than $2 billion, up 3% from the previous year. They represented 16% of the total ag value in 2022, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service.
All wheat, valued at $1.17 million, represented the third highest value in the state, with a 55% increase from the previous year, and up from fourth in the state rankings in 2021. Potatoes rounded out the top five with a value of $943 million, up 32% from the previous year.
Pasco joins Wreaths Across America campaign
The city of Pasco is participating in “Wreaths Across America” for the first time this year.
Wreaths will be placed on the graves of veterans at City View Cemetery in Pasco as part of the national movement, which started in 1992 at Arlington National Cemetery.
Pasco residents and local businesses are invited to sponsor wreaths for the 950 veterans at City View. The sponsorship deadline is Nov. 28. For details, go to: pasco-wa.gov.
Paid leave premiums to decrease next year
Paid Family & Medical Leave premiums will decrease slightly next year, to 0.74% from 0.8%, the Washington state Employment Security Department announced.
Employers will pay 29% of the premiums, and employees will pay 71%, which is similar to this year’s ratio, according to ESD.