Archive for the ‘Government’ Category
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.
Businesses recognize there are some top-notch employees who work in permitting, providing exceptional customer service. Some noted that the Department of Revenue, Fish & Wildlife and the Liquor Control Board consistently had great people to get you through the process.
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.
April 26, 2013
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.
The annual D.C. Fly-in is planned through partnerships between Greater Spokane Incorporated, and the West Plains, Spokane Valley, Post Falls and Coeur d’Alene chambers of commerce.
April 25, 2013
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.
This annual advocacy trip to Washington D.C. is planned through a partnership between Greater Spokane Incorporated and the West Plains, Spokane Valley, Post Falls and Coeur d’Alene chambers of commerce.
How important is contracting with the government to smaller communities? Let’s look at Newport, Wash., as one example.
Newport is a town about an hour north of Spokane on the Washington-Idaho border with a population of approximately 2,140. Smaller towns – like Newport – don’t have the business-to-business opportunities that a larger community – like Spokane – would offer.
Since 2004, businesses in Newport received more than 400 government contracts totaling almost $10 million and supported nearly 200 total jobs. The Department of Agriculture awarded a large majority of the contracts, though the Department of Interior awarded a number of contracts as well.
For example, the Department of Agriculture needed its Conservation and Development Facilities repaired, so it contracted with a private company to do the work.
There are a lot of unknown opportunities when it comes to contracting with the government. For example, Fairchild Air Force Base – a government installation – needs dry cleaning services. It contracts with local companies to do the job. On a larger scale, construction companies in the area have been awarded contracts to work on various projects on the base.
So how can contracting with the government help small towns? Government agencies are required to award a certain percentage of contracts to companies in HUB Zones (more on that here). Being Hub Zone certified gives your company leverage and is typically the preferred choice for agencies awarding contracts. In our region, most small towns fall within a Hub Zone.
Washington will have a new governor and some new members of its legislature when state lawmakers begin their legislative session in Olympia in January. We hosted our annual Legislative Forum & Reception on Wednesday to give the business community a chance to gain some insight into what might happen in the upcoming legislative session. Governor-elect Jay Inslee spoke toward the end of the forum.
Inslee joined Rep. Timm Ormsby (D – Spokane), Sen. Mike Padden (R – Spokane Valley), Rep. Larry Springer (D – Kirkland) and Rep. J.T. Wilcox (R – Yelm) to talk to more than 300 area business leaders.
The 2012 election will be known for the race to occupy the White House.
But there are a ton of other candidates and issues that affect the business community, including initiatives on tax increases imposed by the state, and charter schools.
So why should you be registered to vote (deadline is Oct. 8!) and encourage others to do the same?
Another year, another advocacy trip to Washington D.C. is in the books. Our regional delegation met with government officials, elected officials, Air Force officials, presented a Key to the City to retiring Representative Norm Dicks, talked about tankers, transportation, graduate medical education, and a lot more.
Here’s what we took away from the trip:
It’s that time again.
We’re partnering with the Spokane Valley and West Plains chambers of commerce to lead a large delegation (as in more than 70 people) to Olympia to advocate on behalf of Eastern Washington.
Time to get our show on the road.
With 2011 in the rearview mirror, it’s time to focus on 2012. What lies ahead for Spokane? What will happen, what might happen, and how will it affect the business community?
Let’s look into the crystal ball, shall we?
A dynamic, growing presence on the east end of downtown Spokane is the University District, a place where innovation, research, education and more rule the day. Washington State University Spokane, Eastern Washington University, Whitworth University, Gonzaga University and Community Colleges of Spokane all utilize real estate in the U-District.
We have been working with various groups in the community to grow the district. Our U-District is a higher education hub with WSU’s Health Science Campus as its anchor. One of the district’s best kept secrets is the Applied Sciences Laboratory (ASL), a part of Washington State University’s Institute for Shock Physics. ASL is a contract research organization providing multidisciplinary expertise in Research & Development and Materials Characterization for government and industry. Research scientists at ASL have expertise in material science and advanced materials development, optical science, lasers, polymer chemistry, computational modeling and much more.
For instance, did you know there’s team researching ways to detect IEDs to protect U.S. soldiers? And did you know there are studies determining the best way to destroy biological agents, such as anthrax? All of this is vital for our nation, and it’s happening right here in Spokane’s U-District.