Washington State Chamber President visits the Bellingham Region

Thursday afternoon, we were honored to host Kris Johnson, President/CEO of Association of Washington Business (AWB) for his “The State of Business in Washington State” speaking tour for the exclusive audience consisting of our Chairman’s Club members.

AWB is Washington state’s chamber of commerce. As part of a regular trek across the state, Kris traveled to Northwest Washington this week.

Kris presented the most up-to-date info on the Washington state economy, our Bellingham region stats, and this current 2019 legislative session.

The bulk of the speech focused on the business climate of Washington state and the employment statistics of all the Washington counties. It was a fascinating discussion (and history lesson) regarding the differences of our regions of the state. Very few of the other regions of the state have recovered from the previous recession as well as King and Snohomish Counties – Kris referred to it as a story of “2 and 37” referring to our 39 counties in the state.

He touched a bit on the housing crisis and how it is impacting our region but many regions across the state. He mentioned he was surprised by some of our numbers, especially the percentage of homeowners are still underwater following the recession.

The second half of his presentation was discussing this year’s activities in Olympia. As the state’s chamber of commerce, AWB is the leader in advocating on behalf of business. The Bellingham Regional Chamber of Commerce is involved as a partner chamber with AWB through their Grassroots Alliance, which connects 80+ chambers across the state with information and business advocacy. The bulk of his discussion was regarding the historic increase in budgeted expenses for the next biennial budget – a 19% increase. I thought his remarks were poignant, “How many of us have had a 19% increase in revenues?”

Kris left us with the call to action to “show up” at Olympia. He has noticed more legislators paying attention to those citizens that show up, those who take time away from their jobs, their families, their lives to show up and participate in government.

Please click here if you are interested in learning more about the Bellingham Regional Chamber’s Policy Agenda. Be looking for an upcoming announcement of the annual State of the State Legislative Update with our six legislators later this year. It should be a great event with three new legislators serving our region this year.