Feb 2, 200912:00 AMBlog

February 2009

Lacey's LoneStar changes hands

02/27/09

Lacey's LoneStar changes hands

Adam Adrian has one fewer restaurant to cook at after today. The owner of Olympia's Ramblin' Jacks, Italia and Mercato, has sold the fourth restaurant in the mix. He sold Lonestar Kitchen in Lacey this morning.The new owner is the group behind JazzBones in Tacoma and Oak Harbor, which operated six restaurants, which is reportedly set to make renovate the Lonestar site into a concept restaurant called Red Bicycle.

Posted at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments

02/27/09

Tourism impact topped $15 billion last year

Visitors to Washington spent $15.7 billion in the state - an increase of 5.7 percent from 2007, according to a report released today by the Dept. of Community, Trade and Economic Development and Washington State Tourism. "This report shows that the Washington travel industry will be an important contributor to our state's economic turnaround," said Gov. Chris Gregoire. "I put a strong emphasis on the travel industry in my Next Washington plan because it is one of our state's economic drivers. I am pleased to see that our focus on tourism has led to another strong year for the industry in Washington."

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02/27/09

Restaurants show their local impacts

The Washington Restaurant Association released the results of its monthly industry tracking survey for January today. The figures confirm - as forecasted - that business operators in this sector are encountering some significant economic challenges.As for nearly every other industry, January was a difficult month for restaurants. Year-over-year comparisons show sharp declines for the month in restaurant business activity: sales, customer traffic, employee hours and staffing levels. Unfortunately, the only metric that increased was food costs.

Posted at 02:58 PM | Permalink | Comments

02/27/09

COFFEE BREAK: lay off response

The Business Examiner asked its readers what advice they had for people who have been or are facing possible lay offs.Here is how one business person responded:The magnitude of the nationwide lay off rate is staggering. It is creeping into almost every industry from construction to the technology world. I personally know people from each of those industries that are currently laid off.

Posted at 02:06 PM | Permalink | Comments

02/26/09

Nominations sought for area's outstanding health workers

The Business Examiner has partnered with local agencies to recognize this year's Health Care Champions. There are countless "champions" in the thriving health care market, and the Business Examiner, in partnership with the Pierce County County Medical Society, needs help in identifying them in Pierce.The business newspaper group has also partnered with the Thurston County Chamber and Thurston-Mason County Medical Society for a similar program in Thurston and Mason counties.  

Posted at 02:22 PM | Permalink | Comments

Gig Harbor hospital countdown begins for Franciscan

02/26/09

Gig Harbor hospital countdown begins for Franciscan

Gig Harbor residents will have a new saint to celebrate this St. Patrick's Day.St. Anthony Hospital in Gig Harbor, the newest addition to the Franciscan Health System family of hospitals, will open on March 17.Franciscan officials said the new hospital, which will have as many as 450 employees, will boost the community's economic health in addition to ensuring access to world-class medical services, close to home, for residents of Gig Harbor, Key Peninsula and South Kitsap County. Also, St. Anthony will be distinguished by a unique healing environment in which art and natural landscape are prominently featured."Physicians, nurses and other care team members at St. Anthony will be well-connected by computerized medical information, such as lab test results and X-rays," said Carole Peet, registered nurse and chief operating officer at St. Anthony. "It has taken a year to install nearly 300 miles of copper cables and fiber optic lines to support the intricate systems that will power our operating rooms of the future, the wireless bedside computer workstations used by our nurses, and other advanced technologies."

Posted at 01:06 PM | Permalink | Comments

02/26/09

AT&T to refund customers for roadside assistance fees

Calling all current and former AT&T Mobility customers: If you have a wireless phone, you may have paid $2.99 per month without your knowledge for a program called Roadside Assistance. The Washington Attorney General's Office says that if you didn't use the service and didn't authorize the addition of the service to your wireless account, you may qualify for a refund under a new settlement filed today in Thurston County Superior Court.

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02/26/09

State economic picture darkens

The preliminary forecast  from the state Economic and Revenue Forecast Council assumes a much more severe recession than did the forecast adopted in November. The recession is expected to last six quarters with a peak-to-trough decline in real Gross Domestic Product of 2.7 percent. The unemployment rate, which has already risen from a cyclical low of 4.4 percent in December 2006 to 7.6 percent January 2008, is expected to climb to 9.0 percent in March 2010. Payroll employment, housing starts, and personal income are also much lower in the new forecast. One piece of good news since the November forecast is the adoption of much larger stimulus package than assumed in November.  

Posted at 12:57 PM | Permalink | Comments

02/26/09

State disciplines health care providers

The state Department of Health has taken disciplinary actions or withdrawn charges against health care providers in the South Sound.In Mason County, the Nursing Assistant Program denied the application of Ashley Rose Weber. She was convicted of unlawful issuance of bank checks.

Posted at 12:57 PM | Permalink | Comments

02/26/09

People on the move

Venture Bank recently hired Pat Steingruber as an accounts payable assistant at the bank's DuPont Financial Center. She has more than 30 years of banking experience. 

Posted at 11:31 AM | Permalink | Comments

02/26/09

Mountain View sells to Houston cemetery group

Tacoma's Mountain View will not see a fifth generation of Thompsons operate the family cemetery business. The business has been sold, said President Cindy Thompson, and the new owner is Northstar Memorial Group based in Houston."The check is in the bank today," she said after a due-diligence progress that took several months. "They are really good people."

Posted at 11:29 AM | Permalink | Comments

02/26/09

McKenna announces $11 million in tobacco settlement

Attorney General Rob McKenna announced today that the state of Washington received $11 million in tobacco settlement funds previously withheld by tobacco companies. R.J. Reynolds, Lorillard, Kingmaker and other tobacco companies agreed to transfer the money pending the resolution of an ongoing payment dispute with the states. "Today our state's health programs have received a multi-million dollar booster shot in the arm," McKenna said. "Just when it's needed the most, this money helps close the budget gap and bolsters vital anti-tobacco programs for kids." AG McKenna is co-chair of the National Association of Attorneys General Tobacco Committee, where he, along with Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley, leads ongoing negotiations between the tobacco companies and the states.

Posted at 11:27 AM | Permalink | Comments

02/25/09

Artesian well draws support

The Olympia City Council and Thurston Public Utility District Board of Commissioners stepped forward to continue community access to an artesian well in downtown Olympia. The well draws hundreds of people to a downtown parking lot, where they fill up jugs of water that bubbles up from a pipe in the ground.The Friends of the Artesians, a local community group that has graciously supported artesian wells since 1996, announced in the fall that it was disbanding and would no longer pay for testing the water at the artesian well owned by Diamond Parking Service, located on Fourth Avenue.

Posted at 01:56 PM | Permalink | Comments

02/25/09

Agri-business protection bill approved by committee

The Senate Agriculture and Rural Economic Development committee voted unanimously yesterday in favor of Senate Bill 5817. SB 5817 would clarify language in current law that exempts certain agri-businesses from property taxes. Property owners who use their land for boarding horses, raising pigs, growing food or a number of other ag-related activities have worried that county governments, having discovered the unclear language, would try to collect back taxes.

Posted at 01:51 PM | Permalink | Comments

02/25/09

Retailers welcome new organized crime law

The National Retail Federation today welcomed legislation intended to help law enforcement fight the $30 billion-a-year problem of organized retail crime, saying introduction comes at a time when the nation's economic crisis has more shoppers turning to "bargain" merchandise they might not realize is stolen or tainted.

Posted at 01:49 PM | Permalink | Comments

02/24/09

HIMC cuts shares further

Tacoma-based check processor HIMC Corp. announced today that it has successfully recovered 4.5 million shares of common stock. "This equates to an additional 25 percent reduction in the number of outstanding common shares," said  CEO Jerry Cornwell. "Coupled with last week's announcement, our shareholders have seen an overall reduction of 49.7 percent to approximately 13.45 million shares outstanding."

Posted at 11:50 AM | Permalink | Comments

CEOs urged to 'Learn it, Live it, Lead it'

02/24/09

CEOs urged to 'Learn it, Live it, Lead it'

More than two dozen South Sound company leaders and chief executive officers attending a sold-out, morning seminar on "Customer-Focused Social Media for Executives" were advised to personally take charge of their business' participation in blogs, MySpace, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Twitter and such online forums."Living in this new virtual world is the way to lead your business to benefit from social media," said Blaine Millet, co-founder of Customer Experiences Inc. He told the senior executives, many who are not a part of today's "younger" generation that easily navigates the new media, that it is very important for CEOs to be visible and active in the new medium.

Posted at 11:29 AM | Permalink | Comments

02/24/09

People on the move

Tacoma residents Jennifer Perusse and Zach Parsons are the winners of the Museum of Glass $30,000 Wedding Give-away Essay Contest. The couple learned the news during the museum's wedding open house on Feb. 12, which was attended by some 250 prospective brides, grooms and family members. Perusse, who wrote the winning essay, flew in from Boston where she is attending school to surprise her fiancĂ© and claim the prize.

Posted at 10:30 AM | Permalink | Comments

02/23/09

Wetland preservation projects move recovery forward

The Puget Sound recovery effort is getting a boost from $3.1 million in federal grants to the Washington Department of Ecology. The grants will help local partners return more than 350 acres of critical and increasingly rare estuarine and connected fresh water wetland habitat in Mason, Pierce, Thurston and Whatcom counties to natural conditions.        Ecology Director Jay Manning said about 70 percent of the land near the mouths of Puget Sound rivers has been converted to residential, commercial and industrial uses.

Posted at 02:58 PM | Permalink | Comments

02/23/09

Olympia firm gets Army Corps green light

The Olympia laboratory of Materials Testing & Consulting, Inc. was recently approved by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to perform tests and inspections on construction projects under its oversight. MTC is now one of only three laboratories in Western Washington validated by the corps to perform the combination of aggregate, bituminous, concrete, grout, masonry, mortar and soil tests for corps-administered projects.

Posted at 01:23 PM | Permalink | Comments

02/20/09

Milgard Breast Center opens in Tacoma

What began as a vision of community collaboration more than three years ago has become a reality with the opening of the Carol Milgard Breast Center. The three largest providers of breast imaging services in the South Sound region pooled their resources to create the state-of-the-art facility for women's breast care. That vision is now offering what some are calling the region's highest quality diagnostic care while significantly reducing the time from screening to diagnosis. The Center officially opens on Monday.

Posted at 11:00 AM | Permalink | Comments

02/20/09

Wilcox Farms Inc. honored for 100 years

Wilcox Farms Inc., headquartered in Roy, was recognized yesterday by the state Senate with the adoption of Senate Resolution 8619, honoring the local company for 100 years of farming and entrepreneurial business operations that have helped uniquely shape the Pacific Northwest. Three generations of the Wilcox family were on hand, and recognized, in Olympia for the reading and adoption of the resolution.

Posted at 10:56 AM | Permalink | Comments

02/20/09

Dark state revenue forecast worsens

Rep. Ed Orcutt, the ranking Republican on the House Finance Committee and member of the Economic and Revenue Forecast Council, isn't happy with the failing state of Washington's economy as the forecasted shortfall is now at the $8 billion mark. But also is calling for cooler heads to win the day against adding taxes to fill the budget hole.

Posted at 10:55 AM | Permalink | Comments

02/20/09

State posts strong export numbers

Washington exports set a new record in 2008 by growing to $66.8 billion, a $400 million increase over 2007. The state also maintained its rank as the 4th largest exporter in the United States by total value."Washington's strong export numbers illustrate how the diversity of our economy can help offset some of the impact of the current recession," said Gov. Chris Gregoire. "Washington offers to our companies some of the best global trade connections and infrastructure in the world. That makes our economy stronger and more competitive."

Posted at 10:53 AM | Permalink | Comments

02/19/09

Square One leases last space at DuPont site

Square One Construction Supply, Inc leased 13,750 square feet from Panattoni Development Co. at Industrial Place in DuPont. This transaction completes the lease up of the 54,000-square-foot, industrial building.The single-story warehouse was completed in 2008 and is located at 3895 Pioneer Ave. NE.  Panattoni recently signed a deal with AGCO who is operating in the other portion of the building. 

Posted at 01:12 PM | Permalink | Comments

02/19/09

Producer Price Indexes rose slightly

The Producer Price Index for Finished Goods rose 0.8 percent in January, seasonally adjusted, the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor reported today. This increase followed declines of 1.9 percent in December and 2.5 percent in November. At the earlier stages of processing, the decrease in prices for intermediate materials slowed to 0.7 percent from 4.2 percent in the prior month, and the index for crude materials declined 2.9 percent after dropping 5.3 percent in December.  

Posted at 01:11 PM | Permalink | Comments

02/19/09

Inside China: forum to explore U.S., China relations

Military and regional experts will delve into the complexities of the United States' relationship with China during the 2009 Pacific Northwest National Security Forum in Tacoma next month. A diverse panel of diplomatic, military, business and academic experts will discuss "Competitors and Partners: Prospects for China and the United States." "Thirty years have passed since the United States and the People's Republic of China normalized relations," said retired Lieutenant Colonel Doug Adams, program chair for the forum. "In that time, much has changed in China. China is now among the world's top economies, militaries, and after the Beijing Olympics in 2008, perhaps even cultures. Many national security experts focus on the future competition they see coming between the United States and China.  However, Washington State has been a leader in developing partnerships with China in educational and commercial realms." 

Posted at 12:56 PM | Permalink | Comments

Construction materials prices inched down

02/19/09

Construction materials prices inched down

The cost of construction materials continues to move downward as prices fell 0.3 percent last month, according to the Producer Price Index report by the U.S. Labor Department. This is the fourth consecutive month that construction materials prices have fallen. However, on a year-over-year basis, prices are still up 1.8 percent from January 2008."One of the few bright spots in the economy is that we live in subdued inflationary times," said Associated Builders and Contractors Chief Economist Anirban Basu. "Both consumer prices and producer prices have been in retreat, a reflection of extraordinarily weak demand for goods and services throughout the global economy. This weakness has certainly become apparent in commodity prices, which have generally trended lower."

Posted at 12:53 PM | Permalink | Comments

02/19/09

HIMC announces reduction in shares

Tacoma-based HIMC Corp. has announced the successful recovery and cancellation of 8 million shares of outstanding common stock. "We are pleased to put another legal issue behind for the benefit of shareholders," said CEO Jerry Cornwell.

Posted at 12:50 PM | Permalink | Comments

02/18/09

Sumner company fined for stormwater violations

A Sumner construction company has been fined $36,000 for violations of its construction stormwater permit.The state Department of Ecology fined Stowe Construction for failure to prevent, control and treat stormwater runoff from its Rainier Park of Industry Division Four construction site, West Valley and 52nd Street East in Sumner. Ecology provided company owner Bryan Stowe with technical assistance several times to help him bring the Rainier Park property and another site in Sumner into compliance with stormwater regulations. 

Posted at 03:04 PM | Permalink | Comments

MBA finds promise, faults with stimulus packages

02/18/09

MBA finds promise, faults with stimulus packages

With President Barack Obama signing the federal stimulus package yesterday, it was no surprise that the hot topic at the Master Builders Association of Pierce County 2009 economic forecast event was the state and national stimulus packages and how they will affect the building industry.Many conversations focused around the $15,000 home buyer tax credit being changed to an $8,000 first-time home buyer tax credit that does not have to be repaid."We were a little disappointed," said Gary Pedersen, association president. "We don't feel it's enough."

Posted at 02:39 PM | Permalink | Comments

Rethink networking as chances to give, not take

02/18/09

Rethink networking as chances to give, not take

The keynote speaker at the Tacoma-Pierce County "Prosperity on Purpose" event this morning had a simple - but seemingly revolutionary - message about networking. It is better to give than receive."We have to get it out of our heads that it is self serving,"  said nationally acclaimed speaker and author Jeff Shore, who has authored three books on the issue. "Sales networking is about giving when it is successful. Think of it as 'what can I do to make that business more successful? Forget about the take (of a quick sale or a signed contract) and think about the give.'"

Posted at 02:35 PM | Permalink | Comments

02/18/09

Blog Watch: gag order

The AWB's blog has an item about Attorney General Rob McKenna's legal thoughts on labor's "top legislative priority" this session. The so-called Worker Privacy Act, which businesses argue would impose unnecessary, unworkable and unconstitutional restrictions on employer communications with employees, would apparently be illegal.  McKenna confirmed that fact  by saying it would run afoul of federal law.

Posted at 02:32 PM | Permalink | Comments

02/18/09

Washington Business Bank reports solid year numbers

Olympia-based Washington Business Bank today announced an annual net income of $148,000 for 2008, compared to a net loss of $241,000 for 2007. Total assets at the end of 2008 were $68 million. The loan portfolio grew nearly $10 million, or 18.26 percent since 2007. Total Risk Based Capital grew from 13.53 percent in 2007 to 13.56 percent in 2008, above the regulatory definition of "well-capitalized" of 10 percent.

Posted at 02:31 PM | Permalink | Comments

02/17/09

People on the move

Western Washington University's College of Business and Economics Leadership program hosted Mark Nelson, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Columbia Bank, to recognize students who have distinguished themselves through scholarship and leadership while in WWU's College of Business and Economics. This recognition is bestowed on them by way of nominations from faculty in their respective departments. South Sound student honored at this luncheon included: Brandon Myking, Economics major from Puyallup and Rocky White, a Management major from Auburn.

Posted at 02:55 PM | Permalink | Comments

02/17/09

New writing course focuses on clear communication

Technology has changed the way business people communicate, but one thing has not changed: Writing well is essential to good communication. A new professional development course offered at University of Washington Tacoma teaches participants to write in a direct, organized and grammatically correct business style -- whether they're writing a letter, an email or a presentation. Taught by Sheri Gietzen, an English faculty member at Tacoma Community College, Effective Business Writing and Communication helps participants to write with clear intent, analyze their audience and organize documents based on specific objectives and purpose.

Posted at 11:49 AM | Permalink | Comments

Orting company uses Valentine's Day to grab business

02/16/09

Orting company uses Valentine's Day to grab business

In an effort to help lovers and local businesses at the same time, Around the Corner Cafe in Orting used Valentine's Day to host an event to show there is still much life left in the local business community.

Posted at 02:19 PM | Permalink | Comments

Expert warns businesses of fake recession issues

02/16/09

Expert warns businesses of fake recession issues

Americans need to open their eyes and not fall into the self-proclaimed recession prophecy they have created, Dr. Eliyahu Goldratt told a large crowd this morning at Pacific Lutheran University.Goldratt was concern for U.S. businesses and he stressed that people need to stop extrapolating and start thinking about cause and effect. He warned the audience that there are dangers that come to companies that lay off employees. "Don't look at it as just an economic problem," he said. "We are talking about lives here."

Posted at 12:45 PM | Permalink | Comments

02/16/09

Lakewood bank accepts $2 million from feds

Lakewood's Northwest Commercial Bank will use the $2 million it has received from the U.S. Treasury's stimulus package to boost business loans in the area.

Posted at 12:28 PM | Permalink | Comments

02/13/09

Financial checkups offered by O Bee Credit Union

With so much global economic turmoil, people and businesses are looking for financial answers. Tuwmater-based O Bee Credit Union is offering a free personalized financial check-up to do just that.

Posted at 02:36 PM | Permalink | Comments

02/12/09

Port cleanup aided by grant

Port of Olympia has accepted a Washington State Department of Ecology matching grant that is helping clean up Budd Inlet and is restoring parts of two shipping berths. The project is also helping the port evaluate future clean-up alternatives for the port's remaining navigational areas.

Posted at 03:42 PM | Permalink | Comments

02/12/09

Goldmark launches biomass initiative

Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark today launched an effort to create jobs, renewable energy, and healthier forests by utilizing woody biomass in our state's forests. "Through this biomass initiative, DNR has an opportunity to be part of the climate change solution at the same time that we are creating jobs and improving forest health," said Commissioner Goldmark. "This effort will help bring emerging technologies to the marketplace and help to establish another positive and sustainable use of our public's natural resources."

Posted at 10:36 AM | Permalink | Comments

02/12/09

Owners are no longer in denial about home values

American homeowners' perceptions of the value of their own homes moved more in line with reality at the end of 2008, at least when it came to hindsight. More than half believe their own home lost value during the year, according to the recent Zillow Homeowner Confidence Survey. This is markedly more than the 38 percent who believed their home's value was declining when asked during the second quarter of 2008.

Posted at 10:33 AM | Permalink | Comments

02/12/09

More counties added to disaster benefits roster

Workers in Grays Harbor and six other counties may now be eligible for disaster unemployment benefits if they lost their jobs or cannot work because of the storms and flooding that struck the region in January. Residents of these counties have until March 11, to apply for the benefits. 

Posted at 09:54 AM | Permalink | Comments

02/11/09

Tacoma traffic troubles starts Friday

Getting from the Tacoma Narrows Bridge to Interstate 5 is going to take more time the next few years, because traffic changes required to build a new State Route 16 Nalley Valley viaduct will cut into lanes used to flow traffic along that main route."Traffic flow through Tacoma will bog down during construction, but the local economy gets a boost as this project creates more than 200 full-time construction-related jobs over the next three years," said Washington State Department of Transportation administrator Kevin Dayton.

Posted at 03:07 PM | Permalink | Comments

02/11/09

Email just got more popular

The U.S. Postal Service has announced it will begin charging another 2 cents for a first class stamp starting in May. The new price will be 44 cents and go into affect May 11, which is the annual price change date.

Posted at 03:06 PM | Permalink | Comments

02/11/09

State tax collections fall short again

Washington's General Fund for the last month fell short of the tax collection forecast set in November. Total receipts for the month were $62.6 million, or 5.3 percent, lower than expected. That makes the running total now $200 million short since the November collection forecast. The cumulative shortfall since the November forecast is now $196.8 million, down 5.1 percent, from initial projections.

Posted at 03:05 PM | Permalink | Comments

02/11/09

REI post loss, announces local layoffs

Outdoor retailer Recreational Equipment Inc. announced 2008 sales totaled $1.4 billion, an increase of 6.9 percent from the previous year. Reflecting the challenging economic environment, however, REI's operating income for the year dropped 31 percent to $73.6 million. Net income was down 65 percent from $41.4 million in 2007. 

Posted at 03:02 PM | Permalink | Comments

02/11/09

Economic chill hampers two big projects in the area

What was going to be a commercial and industrial hub in South Tacoma will remain a vacant lot for a bit longer than first expected now that the developers of the site have backed away from their construction plans. The site could have created up to 900 jobs.ProLogis has formally ended plans to construct a 115-acre industrial park just off South Tacoma Way on property that was once a railroad service center. BNSF Railway, the parcel's owner, will continue the permitting process based on those plans and seek another developer of its propert

Posted at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments

02/11/09

Phone scam targeting Hispanic businesses

The Washington Attorney General is alerting Hispanic business owners about a phone scam in which Spanish-speaking callers claim to be representatives of an insurance company.Hispanic business owners around the state have reported receiving phone calls from callers, who claim to be from "the insurance company." In some cases, the callers also provide the names of actual insurance companies and/or agents.

Posted at 02:59 PM | Permalink | Comments

02/11/09

State error that caused false refunds might cost businesses

Department of Labor and Industries officials say the agency has now corrected a duplicated line of computer coding that inflated the refund payments given to businesses through the state's Retrospective Rating Program. That means businesses using the program will receive smaller refund checks beginning this month. And they might also have to pay back those refunds dating back to three years ago. The department is having state's attorney review the case, but three years is the maximum.

Posted at 02:57 PM | Permalink | Comments

02/11/09

Prosperity on Purpose event set for next week

The Tacoma Regional Convention & Visitor Bureau is one of six regional groups that have partnered to hold Prosperity on Purpose, a special event designed to stimulate Pierce County's business growth and market share. "There is no better time to mobilize the community in building prosperity together," said Tammy Blount, president/CEO of the CVB. "This event offers an exciting opportunity to be proactive in generating business in 2009. Attendees can kick-start their sales and marketing strategies, create new relationships and maximize existing ones to produce win-win business deals."

Posted at 02:55 PM | Permalink | Comments

02/10/09

People on the move

AAA Washington has hired Lori Camping and Rose Johnson as insurance agents at its Tacoma Service Center. Camping and Johnson will specialize in personal-lines insurance including auto, home and life, customizing programs so that clients receive the best value for their dollar.

Posted at 02:07 PM | Permalink | Comments

02/10/09

Washington farmers want a legal workforce

The Washington Farm Bureau and other agriculture-related groups are turning up their political heat for the passage of House Bill 1896, which is scheduled for public hearing before the House Committee on Commerce and Labor tomorrow. Despite record numbers of unemployed workers, there are still not enough legal seasonal workers available to meet the demand. But many of these available workers are not authorized to work here because of their immigrations status.

Posted at 11:05 AM | Permalink | Comments

02/09/09

TCC opens budget for stakeholder discussion

Tacoma Community College faces a 4.3 percent funding reduction this year and more cuts in the coming years. TCC administrators are, therefore, taking the projected budget cuts likely to come in the next few years and opening talks with its students, staff, business partners and others on how to best handle that looming funding gap."The goal is to keep staff, students and friends of the college as informed and involved as possible," said TCC President Pamela Transue.

Posted at 02:41 PM | Permalink | Comments

02/09/09

Valley reports increase in dividend

Valley Community Bancshares, Inc., the parent company of Puyallup-based Valley Bank, today reported earnings of $2.4 million, or $2.10 per diluted share, for the year, compared to $2.5 million, or $2.20 per diluted share, in 2007. "Although the bank did not experience any non-accrual loans in 2008, we are not immune to the credit challenges facing all banks as a result of the slowing economy," said David Brown, president and CEO. "We are, however, confident about the overall quality of our credit portfolio and we believe we are well-positioned to weather further challenges presented by the continued deterioration in the economy." 

Posted at 12:24 PM | Permalink | Comments

02/09/09

Patriot Express loans top $250 million

In just 20 months, the U.S. Small Business Administration's Patriot Express Pilot Loan Initiative has approved more than $250 million in loan guarantees to nearly 2,900 veterans and their spouses who are using the SBA-guaranteed funds to establish and expand their small businesses.The Puget Sound SBA office has processed 79 loans with a gross amount of $7,868,100.More than 20 percent of the loans offered around the nation have come in the first four months of fiscal year 2009, and overall loan amounts have averaged around $88,000 per loan. Some 15 percent of the loans have gone to military spouses.

Posted at 12:21 PM | Permalink | Comments

02/06/09

Puget Holdings completes purchase of PSE

Puget Holdings LLC, a group made of mostly Canadian investors, today announced the completion of its $7.4 billion purchase with Puget Energy and its wholly-owned utility subsidiary, Puget Sound Energy, acquiring all of the issued and outstanding common shares of Puget Energy for $30 a share."Our merger with Puget Holdings is already providing benefits to our 1 million electric and nearly 750,000 natural gas customers in Western Washington," said Stephen P. Reynolds, president and CEO of Puget Energy and PSE. "During this time of economic instability, PSE has been able to improve its credit rating and secure long-term credit facilities to improve and expand our energy delivery system, providing local jobs and meeting local needs."The PSE board includes Herbert B. Simon, a member of Simon Johnson LLC, a real estate and venture capital investment company in Tacoma.

Posted at 02:59 PM | Permalink | Comments

02/06/09

COFFEE BREAK: Stimulus responses

The Business Examiner asked readers of the BE Daily on Wednesday to voice their thoughts on the various stimulus packages that have already passed or are currently under discussion. Will they work? Are they wastes of taxpayer dollars? Are they too little, too much? Here are some of those responses:

Posted at 10:14 AM | Permalink | Comments

02/06/09

Weyerhaeuser posts fourth quarter loss

Weyerhaeuser Co. has reported a net loss of $1.2 billion for the fourth quarter, or $5.73 per share, on net sales from continuing operations of $1.8 billion. Last year, Weyerhaeuser reported a fourth quarter net loss of $63 million, or 30 cents per share, on net sales from continuing operations of $2.5 billion.

Posted at 10:08 AM | Permalink | Comments

02/06/09

Job losses in building underlines need for action

The latest report on job losses in construction-related industries underscores the urgency of passing a job-boosting economic stimulus package focused on infrastructure, said Ken Simonson, chief economist for The Associated General Contractors of America.

Posted at 10:06 AM | Permalink | Comments

02/06/09

DNR seeks new settlement terms with Taylor

The new Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark has announced that he will not renew a lease with Taylor Shellfish with terms that were negotiated by the previous commissioner, Doug Sutherland. The terms had been set in a settlement addressing the company's use of aquatic lands in Shelton's Totten Inlet for its geoduck operations.

Posted at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments

02/06/09

Retail container traffic to fall 11.8 percent

After ending 2008 down 7.9 percent, total cargo volume at the nation's major retail container ports, including operations in Tacoma, is expected to drop at an even faster pace during the first half of 2009 as the economic recession continues, according to the monthly Port Tracker report released today by the National Retail Federation and IHS Global Insight.

Posted at 10:00 AM | Permalink | Comments

02/05/09

Weyerhaeuser announces Alabama closures

After announcing last month the closure of two Washington state mills, Weyerhaeuser said today that it will indefinitely close its iLevel® veneer and lumber mills in Pine Hill, Ala., effective immediately. The announcement will affect approximately 300 employees at the site. Demand for wood products continues to decline due to a slowdown in the housing market. As a result of these challenging market conditions, the Pine Hill facilities will close for an indefinite period of time while the company continues to balance supply with demand."The demand for residential wood products continues to erode and this announcement is a direct result of the business environment we face," said Tom Gideon, executive vice president, Forest Products.

Posted at 03:15 PM | Permalink | Comments

02/05/09

Safeway site tear down set for Monday

Deconstruction of the old Safeway building on the site of Olympia's new City Hall will begin Monday. 

Posted at 01:22 PM | Permalink | Comments

02/05/09

Americans lose $3.3 trillion in home values

The final quarter of 2008 marked the eighth one in a row when home values across the nation fell, declining a total of 11.6 percent during 2008 on Zillow's Home Value Index.The declines on the Puget Sound-based real estate watcher's index translated into some staggering numbers. American homeowners have lost a cumulative $3.3 trillion in home values during 2008, with much of that loss coming in the fourth quarter. Homeowners lost $1.4 trillion during the fourth quarter alone; more than the $1.3 trillion lost during all of 2007. Since the housing market's peak in 2006, $6.1 trillion in home values have been lost.

Posted at 10:33 AM | Permalink | Comments

02/05/09

Disaster unemployment benefits now available

People who live or work in King, Lewis, Mason, Pierce and Thurston counties may be eligible for disaster unemployment benefits if they lost their jobs or cannot work because of the storms and flooding that struck the region in January. They have until March 6, to apply for the benefits.

Posted at 10:25 AM | Permalink | Comments

02/05/09

Pope reduces its quarterly distribution

Pope Resources, a publicly traded partnership that manages more than 400,000 acres of land in Western Washington and Oregon, announced today a quarterly distribution of 20 cents per unit. This represents a 50 percent reduction from the partnership's prior quarterly distribution of 40 cents per unit. 

Posted at 10:23 AM | Permalink | Comments

02/05/09

Community Health Care 'resizes'

Community Health Care has announced plans to "re-size" its operations to match drops in its projected revenues caused by the down economy.

Posted at 10:21 AM | Permalink | Comments

02/05/09

Cleanup begins on key downtown property

Environmental cleanup work has begun on a key piece of property at the southeast corner of South 14th Street and Pacific Avenue in Tacoma. 

Posted at 10:20 AM | Permalink | Comments

02/04/09

Venture reports fourth-quarter profit, year-over-year loss

Venture Financial Group, parent  company of DuPont-based Venture Bank, today announced a net loss of $21.4 million during 2008, compared to net income of $11.8 million during 2007. Though Venture lost money year-over-year, its fourth-quarter earnings were better than those of the previous quarter. The bank's net income during the fourth quarter was $1.4 million.The losses of 2008 came as a result of the government conservatorship of  Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, said bank Jim Arneson, president and CEO. As previously announced, the bank incurred an other-than-temporary impairment charge of $40.1 million during the third quarter of 2008 due to the conservatorship. During the fourth quarter, Venture sold its position in Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae preferred shares to recover the tax benefit. In conjunction with the sale of the preferred  shares, the bank took an additional loss in the fourth quarter of $1.5 million, bringing the total loss $41.6 million.   "We took our big hit during the third quarter, and we lost money on the year, but the fourth quarter was profitable," Arneson said. "Capital is increasing, and we're looking to the future."

Posted at 01:59 PM | Permalink | Comments

02/04/09

TrueBlue reports quarterly loss

Tacoma-based TrueBlue Inc. reported a net loss of $46 million for the quarter. That loss is a drop from net income of $14.4 million during the fourth quarter of 2007 for the day-labor provider. "The decline in demand for our services accelerated in the fourth quarter," said CEO Steve Cooper. "We will continue our focus on aggressive cost management and on maintaining our strong financial position. Labor markets have made extreme adjustments during this recession, and we have made corresponding adjustments to our cost structure. We are committed to continuing to connect people to work through our five blue-collar brands and to help our customers manage their labor needs through these turbulent times."

Posted at 01:54 PM | Permalink | Comments

02/04/09

Buyers starting to seize home opportunities

Pending sales of homes in Puget Sound during January jumped from the same month a year ago in eight of the 19 counties in the Northwest Multiple Listing Service area. Last month's pending sales outgained December's weather-hampered activity by nearly 1,100 transactions."The market seems to be gaining momentum, and buyers seem to be feeling more confident," said Northwest MLS director Meribeth Hutchings. Agents are more optimistic and banks are getting more realistic on pricing bank owned homes and bank controlled homes (short sales), which is helping move that inventory, said Hutchings."The sooner we can eliminate that inventory, the sooner we will get back to a healthy market," she said.

Posted at 01:08 PM | Permalink | Comments

02/04/09

Tacoma concrete plant fined for stormwater leaks

Hanson Pipe and Precast's facility in Tacoma was fined by the Washington Department of Ecology $147,000 for reported violations of its sand and gravel permit and failure to treat contaminated stormwater. Inspectors tallied some 27 violations  between the second quarter of 2007 through the second quarter of 2008 at the South Orchard location. Hanson is one of the largest manufacturers of concrete products in North America.

Posted at 11:53 AM | Permalink | Comments

02/04/09

COFFEE BREAK: Stimulus

The Business Examiner would like to know what you think about the various stimulus packages that have already passed or are currently under discussion. Will they work? Are they wastes of taxpayer dollars? Are they too little, too much?To reply to the poll, send an e-mail to news@BusinessExaminer.com. Poll results will be published in Friday's BE Daily. 

Posted at 11:51 AM | Permalink | Comments

02/04/09

Coalition forming to protect infrastructure spending

Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy and Port of Tacoma Executive Director Tim Farrell are assembling a coalition of business and government leaders to preserve regional transportation funding that is under threat as the state and federal budgets work their way through the political roadway. The coalition will be the topic of a RAMP meeting tomorrow morning at 8 a.m. at the Fabulich Center, at 3600 Port of Tacoma Road. RAMP, the Regional Access and Mobility Project, is a gathering of transportation-minded leaders from the South Sound that seeks improvements to the area's roadway and railways.

Posted at 11:50 AM | Permalink | Comments

02/04/09

Retailers want reform to start at health care costs, not mandates

A store owner testifying on behalf of the National Retail Federation told Congress today that efforts to make health care available to everyone should focus on lowering costs rather than mandating that employers provide coverage for their workers."We believe we can reach universal coverage - a goal we retailers share - without mandating that employers provide coverage," said Dave Ratner, owner of the four-store Dave's Soda and Pet City in Springfield, Mass. "The problem with employer mandates either to provide coverage or provide specific coverages is that they directly increase the cost of coverage and hence the cost of labor. Higher labor costs mean fewer employees... Who will pay the doctor bills if people don't have jobs?"

Posted at 11:47 AM | Permalink | Comments

02/04/09

Holmquist: broad bill could limit free speech, cost jobs

In a Senate Labor, Commerce and Consumer Protection Committee hearing today, Republican Sen. Janea Holmquist of Moses Lake called on her Senate colleagues to reject a bill that would limit the free speech of employers and possibly violate the National Labor Relations Act.  Senate Bill 5446 would prohibit all communication and/or activities related to legislation, elected officials, candidates, religious holidays or charity drives. Employees would be able to sue employers who violate the provisions of this act for even sending out a notice regarding a charity drive.

Posted at 11:40 AM | Permalink | Comments

02/03/09

Anderson island blackout continues

Pierce County Department of Emergency Management has set up a command center at Anderson Island's general store as the residents and businesses set in for what could be a potentially lengthy power outage. Lights went out Saturday around the island just off shore of Steilacoom. Tanner Electric Co. technicians reports that a problem in the underwater transmission line from the mainland to the island likely caused the outage.

Posted at 02:12 PM | Permalink | Comments

02/03/09

Storm victims may qualify for IRS relief

Victims of recent severe winter storms, landslides, mudslides and flooding in the South Sound may qualify for tax relief from the Internal Revenue Service.Following the severe weather last month, the federal government declared King, Lewis, Mason, Pacific, Pierce, Snohomish, Thurston and Wahkiakum counties a federal disaster area qualifying for individual assistance.

Posted at 02:11 PM | Permalink | Comments

02/03/09

People on the move

Ray LaForge, the former owner of Olympic Outfitters has been named the Olympia Downtown Association's Person of the Year. LaForge sold his 40-year-old, downtown business to Alpine Experience last year. LaForge was active in the association as well as having served as its president in 2003. One of the former owners of Wind Up Here, Paul Seabert, was named ODA's Volunteer of the Year.

Posted at 10:42 AM | Permalink | Comments

02/03/09

Nonprofit Leadership Institute seeks new class

South Puget Sound Community College's Nonprofit Leadership Institute is gearing up to launch its second cohort on March 3.   The non-profit business sector - significant in its size around the South Sound - providing much-needed educational, cultural, environmental and health and human services. In light of the current economic crisis, these organizations have seen a steady increase in demand, presenting new challenges for local nonprofit leaders.

Posted at 10:37 AM | Permalink | Comments

02/03/09

Business startup class set for Thurston

In the current uncertain economy, unemployment is steadily on the rise so many are looking at starting their own business around the South Sound. Business assistance centers are seeing a spike in client visits.

Posted at 10:36 AM | Permalink | Comments

02/03/09

Bill could set up three-tiered wage laws for teens

In an effort to give young people a better opportunity to land their first job in a struggling economy and for businesses to hire more teen workers, Rep. Mike Armstrong has introduced a measure to establish a youth training wage.House Bill 1928 would allow employees under the age of 16 to be paid at a rate not less than 85 percent of the federal minimum wage rate. Employees who are 16 and 17 years old would be paid the federal minimum wage rate. The federal hourly minimum wage is now $6.55, but will increase to $7.25 an hour beginning July 24.

Posted at 10:33 AM | Permalink | Comments

02/02/09

Communications firms partner to bundle services

Rainier Connect and Click! Cable TV have partnered to create the first telecommunications bundle offered by local companies in this market. Rainier Connect is now offering the VIP Bundle - video, Internet and phone service to residents in Click! Cable TV's service area in the greater Tacoma area."We're excited to offer this great bundle of services to those with access to Click! Cable TV," said Brian Haynes, CEO of Rainier Connect. "We first offered high-speed data services to businesses on Click! connections in 2001, then Internet services in this market in 2007 and now this!"

Posted at 01:44 PM | Permalink | Comments

02/02/09

International Financial Services Area to be hot topic at hearing

The Tacoma Planning Commission will hold a public hearing Wednesday, Feb. 4 at 5 p.m. in City Council Chambers in the Tacoma Municipal Building, 747 Market St., to hear thoughts on the proposed change to downtown zoning requirements that would eliminate the existing minimum and maximum off-street parking requirements for new development. 

Posted at 01:43 PM | Permalink | Comments

Gregoire hears business concerns

02/02/09

Gregoire hears business concerns

Gov. Chris Gregoire met with business, labor and education leaders today on the University of Washington's Tacoma campus to discuss her Washington Jobs Now initiative and brainstorm strategies to help Washington pull out of the recession."It is going to take all of us to create reforms that will make Washington stronger and more economically sustainable," Gregoire said. "I plan to meet with local leaders across the state to gather their ideas and strategies, and will rely on them to provide valuable input and help lead our communities through these tough economic times."Those invited to speak directly to the governor included Melanie Dressel, president and CEO of Tacoma-based Columbia Bank; Tim Farrell, executive director of the Port of Tacoma; Peter Orser, CEO of Quadrant Homes; and Ray Tennison, CEO of Simpson Investment.

Posted at 01:40 PM | Permalink | Comments

02/02/09

States urge feds to push for mortgage changes

Attorney General Rob McKenna joined a group of other attorneys general and state banking regulators in sending a letter urging federal officials to encourage national banks and federal thrift-servicing operations to modify mortgage loans that are becoming unaffordable for consumers."Every day, our office hears from families struggling to make their mortgage payments and those who have lost their homes," McKenna said. "They are our neighbors and we have as much of an investment in helping them as do officials in the other Washington. The states want to work with federal regulators - not against them - to help reduce foreclosures."

Posted at 01:38 PM | Permalink | Comments

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