First Period: KC-46A Tankers
The big item this week was the KC-46A tanker decision. As you know, our own Fairchild Air Force Base was not chosen as the first base to receive the new tankers. McConnell Air Force Base in Wichita, Kansas was chosen. Obviously, we are disappointed in this decision. Fairchild was classified as a “reasonable alternate,” which means it could be in line to receive new tankers in 2019 at the earliest, instead of 2016, like McConnell.
Before 2019, however, is an expected round of base closures. Our community must do everything it can to prevent encroachment threats – the death knell for military bases. We are currently working with a number of area organizations to reduce housing density in the Accident Potential Zone at the end of Fairchild’s runway. We are also strongly opposed to a proposed high-density casino-resort development in Fairchild’s flight path.
Second Period: Medical School Update
Three years ago, a study from Tripp-Umbach forecasting the economic impact of expanded medical education in Spokane showed how important medical education could be for the region. Tripp-Umbach will release an updated study the first week of June after analyzing Spokane’s current medical education position. Now that we have a big biomedical building set to open this fall and the first round of second-year students ready for fall classes, we’re proud of our progress and excited for the updated economic forecast.
Overtime: 28th Annual AGORA Awards: Spying Business Excellence
Bring your best James Bond costume and join us at The Davenport Hotel on June 5 from 7:00 a.m. – 9:30 a.m. for the 28th Annual AGORA Awards. We’re spying on these excellent businesses in the region, searching for the prime suspects.
KXLY TV, Spokane’s ABC affiliate, has a “Made in the Northwest” feature it’s been running for a number of months. The series features manufacturers in the Spokane region.
This week, we partnered with a number of local groups to host “Building Business. Building Careers.” The event was a combined manufacturing expo and career fair that allowed area middle and high school students to explore various careers, and allowed manufacturers and suppliers to connect and grow their businesses.
This all fit perfectly into KXLY’s “Made in the Northwest” theme:
When did you start riding to work?
I started riding to work in April of this year because I was looking for a way to be more environmentally friendly as well as get a little exercise. Kind of a mix of both.
Have you noticed a lifestyle change?
I have noticed that I have spent less on gas – quite a bit less on gas, in fact – and I’m not paying as much for parking as I would have. I find that time wise, it’s the same amount of time getting to work. It does take me a little longer to get home in the afternoon because I live up on the South Hill. I really do enjoy that time between work and home. I kind of unwind on my bike on my way home.
What do you think the advantages are in riding your bike to work?
The exercise and the cost savings. I have to say that I feel better about my transportation choice as well. It’s just more sustainable in working toward having less of a footprint. (Biking to work is) just one of the ways I’ve been doing that.
Do you take the same route each day?
I do. I work in the core of downtown and there are certain roads with bike lanes that work better than others. For example, there’s a bike lane down Howard, which is nice. Going up the hill, I go a little bit west and then up because there’s a little less traffic.
What does it take to ditch the car keys and get on a bike?
It takes a little bit of pre-planning. You have to think about what your schedule for the day is. I don’t ride every day because if I have a meeting somewhere else that I can’t get to on my bike, then I don’t ride my bike that day. (You’ll also need) a little extra time, but not much, and a commitment to find a bicycle that works for you. With that, I mean if you’re not real comfortable on skinny tires then you’ve got to get yourself a commuter bike, one that is set up with the proper lights. It’s good to have your ‘blinkies’ on your front and back so the cars can see you. So, a little bit of commitment in getting your gear ready to go and coordinating your calendar. Really, truly – that’s about it.
Washington was recently named the most bicycle friendly state. Bike lanes in Spokane are starting to sprout as well, and new transportation projects tend to incorporate a bike component to them. Even the North Spokane Corridor has plans for a bicycle/pedestrian trail to connect the corridor to the Centennial Trail.
Bike to Work Week lasts all this week with a number of events, but you can ride your bike to work anytime you’d like.
Transportation is one of our top priorities. The North Spokane Corridor is the top-tier project, but other transportation improvements are just as important, like improvements to the Medical Lake and Geiger Road interchanges (needed to help in business recruitment on the West Plains), State Route 904 from Four Lakes to Cheney, improvements on Interstate 90 from Sullivan Road to the state line, and more.
We joined the Seattle Chamber of Commerce and other groups around the state to submit brief testimonials from our region on why the state legislature needs to pass a transportation budget. Here’s all the testimonials put together in one video:
Is your company prepared for a crisis? There are lots of crises that could arise, so being prepared is essential, and since we’re in 2013, you might want to be prepared for an electronic one.
We’re talking about e-warfare, which happens when your company’s electronic network is corrupted by an internal or external individual. Searching for the perpetrator and figuring out how to avoid this problem in the future takes a unique set of skills.
With hackers out there looking to do bad things – the group “Anonymous” is most well-known – your company might consider assessing its IT security.
Raj Chauhan, an Air Force veteran, heads up the Academy, where he teaches classes for anybody who is interested in e-warfare solutions. He also contracts with companies looking to solve problems with corrupted networks (learn how Chauhan got started on the Spokane STEM blog).
For example, say someone within your company infected your network, harming its infrastructure and your company. Studio Forensics can work with your company’s IT folks to investigate what happened, find the employee at fault and help your company ensure security in the future.*
The education side of Studio Forensics aims to teach how e-warfare attacks occur, and will help people better prepare for a possible investigation into their company’s network. Classes also teach people how to prevent e-warfare.
With technology advancing at a rapid pace, it’s becoming much more difficult to defend against e-warfare. Computers nowadays can take down an entire network infrastructure. Just imagine the havoc that could create for your company.
Studio Forensics can help you defend your company.
*Studio Forensics does not make discipline recommendations. It is a fact-finding entity only.
Who do you call when you need to hear the voice of the business community? Answer: GSI.
Recently, we received a call from the Washington State Auditor office. It wanted to hear from Spokane area business owners about their experience with the permitting process in one of four focus groups it’s conducting around the state. Results of these focus groups are expected later this year.
Washington has approximately 1,400 permits, licenses and inspections managed by 26 agencies, not including federal and local municipalities (GSI continues to work on streamlining permitting on a local level). In this focus group, it was apparent that businesses have a unified voice on solutions to streamline permitting for all levels of government.
So what’s the solution? Businesses have consistently shared the following resolutions:
Provide predictability (and ensure that the process won’t change mid-stream)
All involved agencies need to be present at the beginning
Implement a “champion,” or one point of contact
Access to staff – shouldn’t have to wait a week or more for a response
Performance-based management for state employees
Accountability, giving consequences if the agency doesn’t meet the time frame
Cost/benefit before regulations are put out, since too often state staff write the administration rules and legislators’ intent not followed through (especially with commissions)
State agencies need to work more cohesively and accept each other’s data and research
Communication from agencies ahead of time rather than after the fact
Create a “Yes” culture
Sometimes it’s putting common sense back into the letter of the law. It shouldn’t have to cost $3,000 to, for example, dig a hole – believe it or not, it’s true in some cases. Businesses often hear from government staff that every situation is unique, but like a brain surgeon who figures out strategies to remove a tumor within weeks, it shouldn’t take six months to obtain a permit.
The end result is to increase business investment and job growth, which will ultimately benefit both business and government in saving time and money. We commend the State Auditor’s Office for taking the time to audit the process and make it easier for businesses to get to “Yes,” and we continue to applaud our region’s cities, Spokane County and various agencies for their efforts to make our region a great place to invest and grow business.
WASHINGTON D.C. - Could there one day be a freeway that runs from Canada to Mexico and passes through Spokane? That idea is just a concept right now, but it was one idea presented alongside a number of other, more realistic ideas to staff members of various Eastern Washington and Northern Idaho elected officials on Friday.
Spokane transportation advocates pushed for federal support for the Inland Pacific Hub – a transportation-focused initiative made up of 19 regional counties that strives to expand the region’s transportation system to support economic development.
The Hub is made up of 21 regional partners from Eastern Washington and Northern Idaho. Throughout the past five years, the regional partners have studied various transportation needs in the region to grow domestic and global commerce. Freight mobility transportation is the main benefactor of various projects, though all transportation users are considered.
The group has identified a number of key projects, some of which include the North Spokane Corridor completion, U.S. Highway 95 to Canada, upgrades to airport access infrastructure, truck routes through the region, and many more.
Projects that need expansion or widening would decrease the time it takes for freight to be transported to its destination, advocates say.
Washington Rep. Denny Heck (D-WA) said a transportation package from the federal government impacts everybody and can improve domestic and international commerce.
“The reason we need to complete our transportation system is so we can compete in a twenty-first century economy,” he said.
Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) echoed Heck’s sentiments and said she is working to prioritize transportation projects that move freight. The North Spokane Corridor and projects within the Inland Pacific Hub do just that.
Finding the funding, though can be difficult, given the current economic climate, a number of aids told a group from Greater Spokane Incorporated during the group’s annual “D.C. Fly-in,” which concluded Friday morning.
WASHINGTON D.C. - Spokane civic leaders presented the region’s case for expanded graduate medical education Thursday to elected officials’ staff members as part of Greater Spokane Incorporated’s annual “D.C. Fly-in.”
With a new medical school at the Riverpoint Campus in Spokane and a new Pharmaceutical and Health Sciences building set to open this fall, the next step in expanding medical education is growing Graduate Medical Education (GME) slots in the region, civic leaders say.
The group presented the region’s position alongside Ashley Thompson of the American Hospital Association (AHA). In 1996, Congress put a cap on the amount of residency slots states are eligible for.
The Resident Physician Shortage Reduction Act of 2013 was recently introduced by Senators Bill Nelson (D-FL), Harry Reid (D-NV) and Charles Schumer (D-NY). The legislation would create 15,000 residency slots (3,000 per year for five years), though there is a big roadblock.
“Funding is the issue,” Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) said earlier this week.
Residency slots are funded through Medicare, and reductions in Medicare funding impacts GME.
The Resident Physician Shortage Reduction Act of 2013 would make new medical schools with a rural location focus (like WSU Spokane) a priority, if it can pass. The amount of residency slots in Central and Eastern Washington is well below the national average.
Group Meets at Pentagon to Discuss Fairchild Air Force Base A small group met with officials from the United States Air Force on Thursday to discuss Fairchild Air Force Base’s candidacy for being the Main Operating Base for the new KC-46A tankers. As reported yesterday, the Air Force’s initial recommendation has been delayed. The recommendation is now expected sometime in mid-May.
The Air Force will make its recommendation and the chosen site will undergo an Environmental Impact Study before an absolute decision is determined.