Mar 1, 201212:00 AMBlog

March 2012

03/30/12

Agencies clarify effective date for Section 716 of the Dodd-Frank Act


Three federal financial regulatory agencies today issued guidance clarifying that the effective date of section 716, the so-called Swaps Pushout provision, of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act is July 16, 2013. The guidance is being issued by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and Office of the Comptroller of the Currency after receiving inquiries seeking clarification about the effective date.

Posted at 12:22 PM | Permalink | Comments

03/30/12

Tacoma launches one-stop website for business community

If you are looking to start, grow or locate a business in Tacoma, check out www.tacomameansbusiness.com - the city's new business resource website.
"There are distinct advantages to starting and expanding a business in Tacoma," said Mayor Marilyln Strickland. "TacomaMeansBusiness.com is here to make it easier to succeed in a competitive marketplace."

Posted at 12:21 PM | Permalink | Comments

03/30/12

Around the Sound

America's Credit Union is hosting a home buyers class from 10 a.m. to noon March 31 at 6310 Mt. Tacoma Drive SW. RSVP to (253) 964-3113.Thurston County Chamber is hosting Morning MIXXER from 7:30 to 8:30 a.m. April 3 at 1540 SW Cooper Point Road, West Olympia. The cost is $5 for members and $10 for general admission. Call (360) 357-3362 for more information.

Posted at 12:21 PM | Permalink | Comments

03/30/12

Mason County PUD 3 moving into new Johns Prairie operations center

Mason County PUD No. 3 is leaving its 54-year old administration building on Cota Street in Shelton and moving into a new operations center 2621 E. Johns Prairie Road.The new site will be officially open for business April 2. The operations center will be the site for the PUD 3 warehouse; field operations such as Shelton line workers; vehicle maintenance, repair and fueling; engineering, telecommunications, energy conservation, the meter shop, transformer and substation maintenance; and various administrative functions.

Posted at 12:20 PM | Permalink | Comments

03/30/12

Doctor sentenced to more than 12 years in prison

Antoine Johnson and his mother, Lawanda Johnson were sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Tacoma for more than two dozen federal felonies connected with their operation of four health care clinics in Western Washington.The Johnsons were convicted in November.

Posted at 12:19 PM | Permalink | Comments

03/30/12

PLU launching new finance graduate program

Pacific Lutheran University will launch its first master of science in financing degree program this fall.The MSF is jointly offered by faculty from finance, economics, accounting, and mathematics to offer cross-disciplinary education that uniquely prepares graduates to excel in financial careers. "This program comes from the fact there's a global move and preference for specialized masters degrees, such as a masters of finance," said Kevin K. Boeh, MSF program director and finance professor, who added that graduates of this program will have an expertise in finance, as well as other related disciplines. "Larger university faculties may not be able to coordinate across these disciplines like we do."

Posted at 12:18 PM | Permalink | Comments

03/30/12

State takes action against health care providers

The Washington State Department of Health has taken disciplinary actions or withdrawn charges against the following South Sound health care providers.Mason CountyIn February, the Chemical Dependency Professional Program reinstated the certification of chemical dependency professional trainee Steven Michael Dorland and placed it on probation.

Posted at 12:18 PM | Permalink | Comments

03/30/12

Small Business Scorecard shows optimism

Month-over-month, hiring is down slightly (-0.2 percent) and paycheck size remains flat, according to SurePayroll's Small Business Scorecard for March. Despite this, optimism among small business owners is 70 percent, the first time optimism has reached the 70s since May 2011.When small business owners were asked about their hiring plans moving forward in 2012, the SurePayroll's Optimism Survey found that 31 percent plan to hire during the remainder of the year and 67 percent plan to maintain their current employment level. Only 2 percent plan to reduce hiring.

Posted at 12:17 PM | Permalink | Comments

03/30/12

Volunteers sought for land use commissions

Pierce County Planning and Land Services is seeking individuals interested in serving on several Land Use Advisory Commissions. Members serve as a conduit for public information and participation, and help shape the vision and growth of their communities. The commissions meet monthly, or as needed, to review development applications, proposed changes to the Pierce County Comprehensive Plan and Community Plans, and changes to the implementing regulations specific to their communities.

Posted at 12:16 PM | Permalink | Comments

03/30/12

Governor signs bill to provide more certainty for land, housing developers

A measure that would clarify timelines for development of plats for subdivisions has been signed into law by Gov. Chris Gregoire.House Bill 2152, which was sponsored by Rep. Jan Angel, says that if a preliminary plat is approved by local government on or before Dec. 31, 2014, a final plat must be submitted for approval within seven years. A plat is an approximate drawing of a proposed subdivision showing the general layout of streets, alleys, lots, blocks and other elements of land development.

Posted at 11:10 AM | Permalink | Comments

03/30/12

Gold values exceed $1.27M in 2011 at LKA's Golden Wonder

The total value of gold delivered from LKA International Inc.'s exploration program at its Golden Wonder mine exceeded $1.27 million (average delivered price of $1,616.96) during 2011. This included one ore shipment that was in process but not yet settled at year-end that will be recorded (revenue and expenses) in the first quarter of 2012. Recorded gold sales for the year were $851,000 compared to exploration and related expenses of $667,510.

Posted at 11:08 AM | Permalink | Comments

03/29/12

Centralia College's BASM degree a step closer to reality

Centralia College's Bachelor's of Applied Science in Management was given a major stamp of approval by the Washington State Board for Community and Technical College at its meeting today in Olympia.The endorsement by the board was an important step in the college's progress toward rolling out its first-ever bachelor's degree beginning in fall quarter 2012.

Posted at 03:00 PM | Permalink | Comments

03/29/12

People on the Move

Amber Young has been promoted to community relations representative at America's Credit Union. She has more than 16 years of experience in customer service, including two at ACU's main branch on Joint Base Lewis-McChord.Dr. Debra Friedman has been appointed to the board of directors of Greater Tacoma Community Foundation. She is chancellor and professor of Urban Studies at University of Washington Tacoma. Friedman master's and doctoral degrees are from the University of Washington in Sociology. She has published a book and numerous scholarly articles, and has been a visiting scholar at the Russell Sage Foundation (NYC), the Hoover Institution at Stanford and the Australian National University.

Posted at 02:58 PM | Permalink | Comments

03/29/12

State takes action against health care providers

The Washington State Department of Health has revoked or suspended the licenses, certifications, or registrations of the following South Sound health care providers. Lewis County In March, the Unlicensed Practice Program ordered Ona Ahrens, also known as Ona Harding and Ona Harding-Ahrens, to permanently cease and desist from any and all conduct constituting the practice of medicine and dietitian and/or nutritionist in Washington unless Ahrens has obtained the proper credential or meets an exemption.

Posted at 11:55 AM | Permalink | Comments

03/29/12

Layoff-avoidance program keeps Washington businesses afloat

More than two-third of employers who participated in the state's Shared-Work layoff-avoidance program in 2011 say the program helped them survive the recession, according to a survey by the Washington Employment Security Department. Another 20 percent of businesses reported that it probably helped.

Posted at 11:54 AM | Permalink | Comments

03/29/12

Falling interest rates paint bleak year for corporate pensions

Last year, the nation's 100 largest corporate pensions were defined by record-low discount rates, which led to record-high pension liabilities and a $326.8 billion pension funding deficit--a $94.7 billion increase over year-end 2010. That deficit was a record for the 12-year history of Milliman, Inc.'s annual Pension Funding Study. The pension funding ratio stood at 79.2 percent at year's end.

Posted at 11:52 AM | Permalink | Comments

03/29/12

Broadband grants available for unserved areas

Applications are now available for the Local Technology Planning Team grant program through the state Department of Commerce. The grants awards will range from $50,000 to $100,000 and are part of the work of the department's Washington State Broadband Office. The Broadband Office is charged coordination, programming, and outreach on opportunities for funding, education and awareness of broadband issues. Its work is funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act by the National Telecommunications and Information Agency.

Posted at 11:51 AM | Permalink | Comments

03/29/12

Thurston commissioners holding hearings on county plans, codes

The Board of Thurston County Commissioners will hold two public hearings on April 10 regarding proposed changes to the county's comprehensive plan and county codes. The purpose of the first hearing is to re-evaluate designation criteria for mineral lands of long-term commercial significance.  The areas proposed to be amended include: the requirement for a Department of Natural Resources reclamation permit, the co-designation of forest and mineral lands, critical aquifer recharge areas, fish and wildlife habitat conservation areas, frequently flooded areas, wetlands, and geologic hazard areas.

Posted at 11:51 AM | Permalink | Comments

03/28/12

Survey reveals cautious optimism for small business owners

The third annual "Brother Small Business Survey" shows a decline in small business owners feeling the need to store away money in case of another economic downturn. This year's survey found that 44 percent of small business owners believe stockpiling cash is the better option than investing in their business now, which is down from 54 percent last year and 53 percent in 2010.In 2010, 36 percent of owners were looking to invest in their businesses' growth. This increased last year to 44 percent but has dropped back to 38 percent in 2012 as owners take a "wait-and-see" approach to their business.

Posted at 02:50 PM | Permalink | Comments

03/28/12

Salish Cliffs Golf Club honored by Golfweek

Salish Cliffs Golf Club at Little Creek Casino Resort has been named among Golfweek's 2012 "America's Best Courses You Can Play."The Shelton-based course was the lone new layout to land in the top 10 in Washington. The rankings come after Salish Cliffs was named the highest-rated casino course (No. 11 overall) to open in 2011 in the Golfweek's "Top-50 Best Casino Courses" list. In addition, the course earned "Best New Course" accolades last year from Golfweek and GOLF Magazine.

Posted at 02:45 PM | Permalink | Comments

03/28/12

Blog watch: Ex-Im Bank, bookmobile, sports, tax compliance and appeals

The Live Wire reports that work continues to get Congress to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank.OlyBlog has the latest information on Digital Bookmobile's upcoming visit to Olympia.

Posted at 02:42 PM | Permalink | Comments

03/28/12

Cloud usage surging

Microsoft Corp. has released new research predicting a significant increase in paid cloud services over the next five years among small and midsize businesses. The research, conducted by Edge Strategies, includes survey responses from information technology decision-makers or influencers at more than 3,000 SMBs in 13 countries. According to survey results, paid cloud services are expected to double in five years, while the number of the world's smallest companies using at least one paid cloud service will triple in the next three years.

Posted at 02:40 PM | Permalink | Comments

03/28/12

Durable goods orders increase

New orders for manufactured durable goods in February increased by $4.5 billion, or 2.2 percent, to $211.8 billion, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The increase followed a 3.6 percent January decrease.Excluding transportation, new orders increased 1.6 percent. Excluding defense, new orders increased 1.7 percent. Transportation equipment, up three of the last four months, had the largest increase, $2.1 billion, or 3.9 percent, to $57.9 billion. This was led by nondefense aircraft and parts, which increased $1 billion.

Posted at 02:38 PM | Permalink | Comments

03/28/12

Call to artists for portable artwork collection


City of Tacoma is inviting visual artists from Pierce, King, Kitsap, and Thurston counties to apply to have existing artwork considered for a portable works purchase. Portable works can include two-dimensional pieces and small-scale three-dimensional pieces that fall within certain artwork eligibility guidelines. The application deadline is May 14, 2012. Money for the purchase comes from art funds associated with renovation of the Tacoma Municipal Building. The city maintains more than 200 diverse pieces of public art, which can be found in virtually every neighborhood in Tacoma.

Posted at 02:28 PM | Permalink | Comments

03/28/12

Enumclaw rescuers receive 10K for emergency medical equipment

Having the proper equipment is essential to any job, all the more so when lives are at stake. When the Enumclaw Fire Department became the primary EMS transport for the district last year, it identified a number of crucial items that were required to safely provide high-quality medical attention - but funding to meet all these needs was not immediately available.Propel Insurance is partnering with Fireman's Fund Insurance Co. to donate $10,000 to Enumclaw Fire Department to purchase a new power stretcher.

Posted at 02:22 PM | Permalink | Comments

03/28/12

Ag loans, jobs up at farm banks

The banking industry continues to be the major source of agricultural credit, providing more than half of all outstanding farm loans, according to the American Bankers Association's annual Farm Bank Performance Report.
The nation's 2,185 farm banks increased farm and ranch lending $3.8 billion or 5.6 percent in 2011, for a total outstanding balance of $72.3 billion.

Posted at 02:19 PM | Permalink | Comments

03/28/12

Bullishness increases among investment managers

Investment managers currently view the markets as a "risk-on" opportunity, according to the latest Investment Manager Outlook, a quarterly survey conducted by global asset manager Russell Investments. The results underscore a turnaround from the previous quarter's IMO where uncertainty around risk prevailed.This quarter, managers' bullishness for U.S. large cap growth equities stood at 69 percent (up from 58 percent bullishness in the December IMO). On the emerging markets front, there was a 10 percentage point increase in bullishness from last quarter to 66 percent in the current survey. Across style and cap levels, the latest IMO survey demonstrated managers' increased bullishness for equities.

Posted at 02:16 PM | Permalink | Comments

03/28/12

Long-time Lacey developer retiring

John Donaldson, senior vice president and director of Capital Development Co. for the past 44 years, will retire from the Lacy-based company next month.He witnessed the company grow from a single shopping center in Lacey to a firm that owns commercial real estate in 38 states.

Posted at 02:11 PM | Permalink | Comments

03/28/12

SBA announces second round of STEP grants

The U.S. Small Business Administration is inviting states and U.S. territories to apply for $30 million in grants that can be used in a variety of ways to help increase exporting by small businesses. SBA began accepting applications on March 27. The State Trade and Export Promotion grant initiative, launched under the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010, is a pilot grant program authorizing up to $90 million in grants over three years. In fiscal year 2011, the STEP program awarded 52 grants totaling $30 million. The average grant was for $577,000. Click here for more information.

Posted at 02:09 PM | Permalink | Comments

03/28/12

UWT launching new graduate program in accounting

The University of Washington Tacoma's Milgard School of Business will launch a new master of accounting degree program this fall. The MAcc will meet the need for additional capacity in graduate accounting programs."In addition to offering a traditional accounting curriculum," said Chancellor Debra Friedman, "the MAcc has innovative features including a global emphasis and a focus on social responsibility, both hallmarks of Milgard School of Business programs."

Posted at 02:09 PM | Permalink | Comments

03/27/12

PUD No. 3 considers electricity rate increase

Mason County PUD No. 3 commissioners conducted a public hearing today about proposed electricity rate increases. The financial impacts of looming renewable energy purchases and an increase in price for wholesale electricity supplies purchased from the Bonneville Power Administration are among the main reasons PUD 3 is considering increases this year.The adoption of the 2012 budget in December anticipated a retail electricity rate increase, which includes a 3 percent change in the cost for energy consumption and a 10-cent per day increase in the daily customer charge. The last increase in electrical rates was in 2009.

Posted at 03:03 PM | Permalink | Comments

03/27/12

Grants available for projects that improve conditions for bicycling, walking

Funding is available to make local roads, streets and highways safer and more accessible for everyone, regardless of age or ability. The Washington State Department of Transportation is calling for projects that increase safety, encourage a healthier lifestyle and create more desirable, livable communities."Projects that make our roadways complete have been proven to reduce fatalities and injuries, and improve safety for pedestrians, bicyclists, and drivers," said Kathleen Davis, WSDOT Highways and Local Programs director. "The projects funded through these grants will also help communities stimulate economic growth, increase opportunities to walk and bike, and improve transportation connections."

Posted at 02:57 PM | Permalink | Comments

03/27/12

Tacoma's intermodal volumes continue strong

Continued increases in international and domestic intermodal container traffic helped drive Port of Tacoma's intermodal volumes up 16 percent through February.This is the fourth month in a row that intermodal volumes have increased. For the same time period, total container volumes dropped by 4 percent.

Posted at 02:23 PM | Permalink | Comments

03/27/12

People on the Move

Lindsey Pritchard has joined Tacoma Regional Convention & Visitors Bureau as administrative assistant. She has more than 10 years of administrative experience and most recently worked at Orcas Power and Light Cooperative in Friday Harbor.Craig Adams has been appointed as a Pierce County Superior Court commissioner. The appointment marks a return to the bench for Adams, who served as a court commissioner for two years during a career that includes work in private practice and as an assistant attorney general for Washington state. Adams has spent the past 20 years as the legal adviser to the Sheriff's Department.

Posted at 02:21 PM | Permalink | Comments

03/27/12

Hospital district leaders want to modify Valley Medical-UW Medicine Alliance

Commissioners of King County Hospital District No. 1, which operates Valley Medical Center, are seeking to modify their Strategic Alliance Agreement with UW Medicine to ensure it meets legal compliance. Because of concerns about the legality of the alliance, the commissioners hired former Supreme Court Justice Phil Talmadge to review the agreement to determine if there were any legal problems.

Posted at 02:18 PM | Permalink | Comments

03/27/12

Rising gas prices concern for travelers, travel industry

With the price of crude oil continuing to rise, travelers could alter vacation plans to control summer vacation costs and business travelers will travel less, according to a survey by the U.S. Travel Association."If travelers are spending more on gas, they are spending less on hotels, attractions, shopping and restaurants, which could have a negative impact on our overall economy," said Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association. "We need to find solutions that reduce the burden which rising gas prices are placing on everyday travelers."

Posted at 02:15 PM | Permalink | Comments

03/27/12

Steel imports up during February

Preliminary February steel imports totaled $2.8 billion (2.4 million metric tons), an increase of $100 million (0.1 million metric tons) from the preliminary January totals of $2.7 billion (2.3 million metric tons), according to the latest figures from the U.S. Census Bureau.The February change in steel imports based on metric tonnage reflected an increase primarily in blooms, billets and slabs. Increases occurred primarily with Brazil and India.

Posted at 12:41 PM | Permalink | Comments

03/27/12

RadioShack expands in Tacoma

RadioShack will celebrate the opening of its newest store at 4502 S. Steele St., Space 501A, Tacoma, on Friday.RadioShack employs about 33,000 people globally and has a retail network of about 4,675 company-operated stores in the United States and Mexico. The company also has more than 1,475 wireless phone centers in the United States and about 1,140 dealer outlets worldwide.

Posted at 12:32 PM | Permalink | Comments

03/27/12

Fashion retailer eyes summer opening at South Hill Mall

The French word "rue" means street. 21 is the age so many people want to be. That describes the essence of the fashion merchant about to join the lineup at South Hill Mall in Puyallup.Rue21 expects to open its doors in late summer. The store will occupy 3,800 square feet near the Multi-Care Good Samaritan Play Park. Rue21 offers a broad assortment of the newest emerging trends in apparel and accessories for girls and guys.

Posted at 12:31 PM | Permalink | Comments

03/27/12

Jobless numbers inch up in February

Unemployment rates rose last month throughout the South Sound, with the exception of Lewis County, according to the latest data from the state Employment Security Department.In Pierce County, the jobless rate rose from 9.6 percent in January to 9.8 percent during February. In Thurston County, the rate rose from 8.3 percent to 8.5 percent. Mason County saw an uptick from 11.5 percent to 11.7 percent.

Posted at 12:30 PM | Permalink | Comments

03/26/12

Board of Equalization vacancy

Applications are being accepted to fill a vacancy on the Pierce County Board of Equalization. The seven-member board hears appeals from taxpayers who disagree with the assessed value of their properties as determined by the Assessor-Treasurer's Office, such as property valuations and exemption changes and denials. The board session begins on July 15 each year. The board is on a three member rotation cycle - each member works three weeks in a row with two weeks off. Upon completing work before it, the board adjourns until fall when petition hearings begin.

Posted at 02:15 PM | Permalink | Comments

03/26/12

State home page earns top grade for government openness

For the second year in a row, Washington has earned a perfect score for website transparency, making it one of the most open and accessible state government sites in the nation. The Sunshine Review, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to government accountability, analyzed more than 6,000 government websites and awarded 214 Sunny Awards for transparency. Washington is one of just of 10 states that received an "A" or "A+" grade for its state government website.

Posted at 02:14 PM | Permalink | Comments

03/26/12

Around the Sound

Auburn Area Chamber of Commerce is hosting the 13th Annual Greater Auburn Area Career Conference from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. March 27 at Grace Community Church, 1320 Auburn Way South. Contact Pegi Moll at (253) 833-0700 for more information.Pierce County Aging and Disability Resource Center is hosting a workshop about financial security for women from 12:10 to 12:50 p.m. March 28 at County-City Building, 930 Tacoma Ave. South. The workshop is free and no registration is required. Call (253) 798-4600 for more information.

Posted at 11:51 AM | Permalink | Comments

03/26/12

Retail Q4 profits slip year over year

Fourth quarter 2011 after-tax profits of U.S. retail corporations with assets of $50 million and over totaled $19 billion, up $3.4 billion from the after-tax profits of $15.6 billion recorded in the third quarter of 2011 but down $3.4 billion from the after-tax profits of $22.3 billion recorded in the fourth quarter of 2010.Sales in the fourth quarter of 2011, at $616.8 billion, were up $48.7 billion from the $568.1 billion recorded in the third quarter of 2011 and up $35.5 billion from the $581.3 billion recorded in the fourth quarter of 2010.

Posted at 10:08 AM | Permalink | Comments

03/26/12

Manufacturing Q4 profits rise year over year

U.S. manufacturing corporations' seasonally adjusted after-tax profits in the fourth quarter of 2011 totaled $146.7 billion, down $2.1 billion from the after-tax profits of $148.8 billion recorded in the third quarter of 2011, but up $13.1 billion from the after-tax profits of $133.5 billion recorded in the fourth quarter of 2010.Seasonally adjusted sales for the quarter totaled $1,651.9 billion, up from the $1,639 billion recorded in the third quarter of 2011 and $1,486.4 billion recorded in the fourth quarter of 2010. Seasonally adjusted after-tax profits per dollar of sales were 8.9 cents for the quarter, compared with 9.1 cents for the third quarter of 2011 and 9 cents for the fourth quarter of 2010.

Posted at 10:07 AM | Permalink | Comments

03/26/12

Thurston courts offering traffic fine amnesty

In an effort to help residents regain their driver licenses, or to keep from losing their licenses due to unpaid tickets, Thurston County District Court, and Olympia, Tenino/Rainier, Tumwater and Yelm Municipal Courts and the Lacey Violations Bureau are offering a collection amnesty program next month. The program applies to instances of unpaid fines for both criminal-traffic and traffic infraction cases. During April, the courts and their collection agencies have agreed to waive interest and half of the agency fee, and to remove the case from credit bureau listing, upon payment in full of the balance owed. For those cases not yet assigned to a collection agency, the courts will remove the $52 late penalty, and remove the hold from the driver's license upon payment in full of the remaining fine.

Posted at 10:05 AM | Permalink | Comments

03/23/12

New home sales up last month compared to 2011

Sales of new single-family houses in February totaled 313,000, according to estimates released today by the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. This is 1.6 percent below the revised January rate of 318,000 but 11.4 percent above the February 2011 estimate of 281,000.The median sales price of new houses sold last month was $233,700. The average sales price was $267,700.

Posted at 02:10 PM | Permalink | Comments

03/23/12

State takes action against health care providers

The Washington State Department of Health has taken disciplinary actions or withdrawn charges against the following South Sound health care providers.Mason CountyIn February, the Chemical Dependency Professional Program ended the probation order against chemical dependency professional trainee Chelsea E. Cornwall-Brady.

Posted at 02:08 PM | Permalink | Comments

03/23/12

Airport Advisory Commission applicants sought

Pierce County is seeking applicants to fill four positions on the Thun Field Advisory Commission. The Pierce County Council created the TFAC to provide the community and airport tenants an opportunity to interact and make recommendations for the future of the Pierce County Airport/Thun Field. The commission meets bi-monthly to review issues related to the airport and other properties within the airport's area of influence. All positions are unpaid.

Posted at 01:23 PM | Permalink | Comments

03/23/12

Around the Sound

Pierce County Aging and Disability Resource Center is hosting a workshop about financial security for women from 12:10 to 12:50 p.m. March 26 at Pierce County Annex, 2401 35th St., Tacoma. The workshop is free and no registration is required. Call (253) 798-4600 for more information.Auburn Area Chamber of Commerce is hosting the 13th Annual Greater Auburn Area Career Conference from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. March 27 at Grace Community Church, 1320 Auburn Way South. Contact Pegi Moll at (253) 833-0700 for more information.

Posted at 01:22 PM | Permalink | Comments

03/23/12

Transit systems first in nation to earn 'gold' standard

The American Public Transportation Association has awarded Seattle-based Sound Transit and Olympia-based Intercity Transit the nation's first "gold" signatory status level for their individual agency commitments to sustainability. The award recognizes organizations in the public transportation industry for their work preserving the environment, reducing waste, modeling social responsibility and helping bolster economic vitality in the regions they serve.

Posted at 01:22 PM | Permalink | Comments

03/23/12

Riverbend Driving Range reopens

Just in time for the spring season, the Riverbend Driving Range has reopened for full use. The driving range's 100 plus feet of netting, which protect users of the Green River Trail and residents of the Colony Park Apartments from errant balls, was damaged during January's ice storm. Riverbend's driving range couldn't reopen for full use until new netting was installed.

Posted at 01:22 PM | Permalink | Comments

03/23/12

Comcast launching first local XFINITY store

Comcast has opened its first western Washington XFINITY Store in Federal Way.  The 4,900-square-foot store, at 31423 Pacific Highway South, provides customers with an opportunity to explore, learn about and interact directly with the latest XFINITY products and services. It will have 10 employees.

Posted at 01:21 PM | Permalink | Comments

03/23/12

Metro jobless numbers lower in January compared to 2011

Unemployment rates were lower in January than a year earlier in 345 of the 372 nation's metropolitan areas, including Olympia and Tacoma, according to the latest data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The jobless rate in Olympia fell from 8.9 percent to 8.3 percent year over year, but was up compared to 8 percent during December. Tacoma's unemployment rate fell from 10.7 percent to 9.6 percent year over year, but also was higher compared to 9.3 percent during December.

Posted at 01:21 PM | Permalink | Comments

03/22/12

Veggies boosts economic health

The Fircrest economy got a little healthier this month with the addition of Veggies.Yes, the extra servings of vegetables and fruits people can soon pick up at the new grocer may produce some long-term benefits. But the immediate beneficiaries of having a new grocer are the local economy and the owners of the Fircrest Town Center.

Posted at 02:53 PM | Permalink | Comments

03/22/12

VA approves ABA courses

U.S. veterans are now eligible to earn the American Institute of Banking's new Military Banking Operations Diploma as part of their educational benefits provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs.The training program, which was designed in partnership with the U.S. Army, will provide veterans with the knowledge and skills needed to pursue a career in the financial services industry.

Posted at 12:42 PM | Permalink | Comments

03/22/12

People on the Move

Linda Nguyen has been appointed chair of the Veterans Task Force for The United States Conference of Mayors Workforce Development Council. She is CEO of WorkForce Central.Erik Petravicius has joined Orbiter LLC as sales and marketing manager. He is a U.S. Army veteran with 14 years of service, including one overseas tour. Petravicius also has started several small businesses, including an espresso stand, security company, entertainment company and sports team.

Posted at 11:41 AM | Permalink | Comments

03/22/12

SBA helping to connect small businesses with corporate supply chains

A new private-public collaboration will help small businesses strengthen their revenue streams by gaining access to more than $300 billion in combined supply chain spending by a consortium of 15 of America's largest corporations, the U.S. Small Business Administration announced today.Supplier Connection, created by the IBM Foundation, is part of the American Supplier Initiative and is designed to help bridge the gap between small, nimble businesses looking for new opportunities and large corporations looking for innovative new ideas and diversity in their supply chains.

Posted at 11:39 AM | Permalink | Comments

03/22/12

$1,000 gift card used in smishing scheme

Cell phones across the United States are receiving unexpected text messages offering $1,000 gift cards from stores like Walmart and Best Buy. Better Business Bureau advises recipients to disregard too-good-to-be-true gifts and solicitations that arrive by short message service. Similar to phishing e-mails, smishing text messages aim to steal personal data or dollars with harmful websites or fraudulent return phone numbers.

Posted at 10:25 AM | Permalink | Comments

03/22/12

BevMo! expanding into Washington

BevMo! will open two retail locations this summer in Tacoma and Silverdale. The company is a specialty beverage retailer which sells wines, spirits and beers, and specialty foods, cocktail mixers, cigars, glassware and bar accessories.

Posted at 10:23 AM | Permalink | Comments

03/21/12

Blog watch: Dollars, offices, walks and health care reform

The Live Wire has information about "Dollars for small businesses."OlyBlog asks: "Whose office is it anyway?"

Posted at 01:54 PM | Permalink | Comments

03/21/12

Delegation will promote state as 'Silicon Valley' of composites industry

Washington State Department of Commerce and U.S. Small Business Administration are supporting a delegation of eight Washington composite supply chain providers, along with the Port of Port Angeles, that will attend the JEC Composites Show in Paris next week. Washington's composites history dates back to the 1960s with products developed for aerospace and defense. Today the state ranks as a global leader in the advanced composite materials industry.

Posted at 11:08 AM | Permalink | Comments

03/21/12

February's drop in unemployment rate may shorten jobless benefits

Washington gained an estimated 4,200 jobs in February, adding to the state's gradual climb up the employment ladder, according to the Employment Security Department.The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dipped to an estimated 8.2 percent last month, down from a revised rate of 8.4 percent in January.  It was the lowest unemployment rate since January 2009, when it was 7.7 percent.

Posted at 10:12 AM | Permalink | Comments

03/21/12

Tacoma Dome roof cleaning begins next week

An anonymous donor approached an intermediary earlier this month for help with making a donation to the City of Tacoma to pay for cleaning the Tacoma Dome roof. Following the conditions of the donation of up to $103,835 for the express purpose of cleaning the roof by May 8, the city has hired a contractor to begin cleaning March 26. The roof was last cleaned in 2003. The cleaning will be performed by the same contractor, Pioneer Masonry.

Posted at 10:06 AM | Permalink | Comments

03/21/12

Funding available for regional economic development strategies

U.S. Department of Agriculture is seeking applications for grants to help rural businesses create jobs and spur economic development. USDA Rural Development plans to award up to $8.6 million through the Rural Community Development Initiative program. Applications are sought for projects that:• Provide technical assistance to improve the capacity of local organizations to complete successful housing, economic development and community facilities projects.

Posted at 10:06 AM | Permalink | Comments

03/21/12

Sales tax aims to improve mental health services in Tacoma

Tacoma City Council members unanimously approved a one-tenth of 1 percent sales tax Tuesday night that will ensure ongoing funding for current mental health programs and allow the creation of new or expanded services for residents with mental illness or chemical dependency issues. The tax, which will add a penny to a $10 purchase, will take effect July 1. It is projected to raise more than $600,000 during 2012 and about $2.6 million in 2013.

Posted at 10:06 AM | Permalink | Comments

03/21/12

Economists temper housing recovery expectations

Economists expect home prices to fall 0.7 percent in 2012, which is more negative than their previous expectation of a 0.2 percent decline, according to the March 2012 Zillow Home Price Expectations Survey.The survey shows that economists expect U.S. home prices to begin to rise in 2013, although expectations for how much were tempered when compared to responses in the December survey. For example, economists now predict home prices will rise 1.4 percent in 2013, compared to their previous prediction of 1.8 percent.

Posted at 10:06 AM | Permalink | Comments

03/21/12

Tacoma will not purchase Pugnetti Park

The City of Tacoma has no plans to purchase Pugnetti Park from the Washington State Department of Transportation. The park, at the corner of Pacific Avenue and South 21st Street, was recently the site of the Occupy Tacoma protest. It is currently closed to the public. "In light of the current budget situation and the fact that the city is currently working to transition many of Tacoma's park properties to Metro Parks Tacoma, I cannot recommend we acquire this additional park property at this time," said City Manager T.C. Broadnax.

Posted at 08:00 AM | Permalink | Comments

03/20/12

People on the Move

Dennis R. Baker has received Certified Federal Surveyor designation from the Bureau of Land Management. He is director of and surveying services for Jerome W. Morrissette & Associates Inc. P.S. in Olympia, Shelton and Yelm. Baker has worked in the surveying field in Thurston County since 1986, and merged Geomatics P.S. Inc. with JWM&A in 2009.Jasmyn Jefferson has joined Windermere Professional Partners. She began her real estate career in 2003 and her focus has been on residential sales and marketing.

Posted at 02:09 PM | Permalink | Comments

03/20/12

Funds secured for interchange analyses near JBLM

Commuters are a step closer to seeing traffic relief along the corridor serving Joint Base Lewis-McChord.The transportation budget approved by the state legislature includes $6.9 million to study five Interstate 5 interchanges in Pierce and Thurston counties, including Thorne Lane, Berkeley Avenue, Steilacoom-DuPont Road, Marvin Road and Martin Way.

Posted at 01:59 PM | Permalink | Comments

03/20/12

State announces managed care service areas

The Washington State Health Care Authority has tentatively assigned counties to each of the five health plans awarded contracts to provide managed care for more than 700,000 Medicaid clients and Basic Health members.Before the service area assignments are final, the plans must prove that they have adequate provider networks in place in each assigned county. When the plans bid during the managed care procurement process, they included letters of intent from provider groups. Now the plans must verify that they have formal agreements with those providers.

Posted at 01:56 PM | Permalink | Comments

03/20/12

Executives say humor a key part of cultural fit

Is it good to LOL at work? A new survey from Accountemps suggests it could be.Nearly eight in 10 (79 percent) chief financial officers interviewed said an employee's sense of humor is important for fitting into the company's corporate culture.

Posted at 01:54 PM | Permalink | Comments

03/20/12

Construction, energy industries report difficulty finding qualified workers

Two-thirds of organizations in the construction, mining and energy industry were hiring full-time staff during fall 2011, but about half of them said they had difficulty recruiting for specific jobs, according to a Society for Human Resource Management poll.The findings also showed that the construction, mining, oil and gas industry reported improved financial health compared with a year earlier. Forty-six percent of organizations were in a significant or mild recovery from the recession compared with a year earlier. This compares to 36 percent in 2010.

Posted at 01:51 PM | Permalink | Comments

03/20/12

New residential construction tracking higher

Building permits issued last month for privately owned housing units totaled a seasonally adjusted 717,000. This is 5.1 percent above the revised January rate of 682,000 and 34.3 percent above the February 2011 estimate of 534,000.Single-family permits totaled 472,000 - is 4.9 percent above the revised January figure of 450,000. Permits for buildings with five units or more totaled 219,000 in February.

Posted at 12:55 PM | Permalink | Comments

03/20/12

Social Media's impact on productivity

Social Media trainers and business educators join two company owners to address the topic of Productivity & Social Media in a discussion at BizTech Talk Executive Forum this afternoon near Pacific Lutheran University. The extended questions will relate to a "balancing act of what, which, who, when, where and how much is enough or too much?" according the event organizers, PLU's School of Business and BizTech Talk, a weekly radio program on KLAY.

Posted at 11:10 AM | Permalink | Comments

03/20/12

Warner tapped to lead Museum of Glass

Susan Warner has been named executive director/curator of Museum of Glass. She has served as interim director since Jan. 3, when former director Timothy Close resigned.   As director, Warner will oversee the continuing development of the Museum of Glass as it begins its 10th year of operation.  Opened in 2002, the museum has attracted 1.8 million visitors from all 50 states and 75 countries.

Posted at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments

03/20/12

One in three employers lacks orientation program for new hires

New-job jitters are common, but some employers aren't helping ease their workers' anxiety, a survey from Accountemps suggests. More than one-third (34 percent) of human resources managers said their companies do not offer a formal orientation program to help prepare new staff.Overlooking the orientation process could be a missed opportunity for employers to help new hires feel like part of the team - and make a more immediate impact. When asked to name the greatest benefit of their orientation program, 35 percent of respondents said it helps employees better understand the company's values, guidelines and expectations.

Posted at 11:00 AM | Permalink | Comments

03/19/12

Around the Sound

Lakewood Chamber of Commerce is hosting a military affairs meeting at 8 a.m. March 20 at Burs Restaurant, 6151 Steilacoom Blvd. SW. Call (253) 582-9400 for more information.Auburn Area Chamber of Commerce is hosting a partnership luncheon from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. March 20 at Emerald Downs, 2300 Emerald Downs Drive. The speaker is Kimberly J. Harris, president and CEO of Puget Sound Energy. Contact Pegi Moll at (253) 833-0700 for more information.

Posted at 03:03 PM | Permalink | Comments

03/19/12

TCC recruiting for IEN to RN transition program

Tacoma Community College is currently recruiting 22-24 students to begin an internationally educated nurse to RN transition program which starts during summer quarter 2012. The Gary E. Milgard Family Foundation awarded the TCC Foundation a $200,000 grant to fund the program. The grant will be used to help nurses certified in other countries gain the skills to become RN-certified in the United States. To qualify for the program, participants must meet specific language proficiency requirements and other criteria. Training will be provided at nominal cost to the students.

Posted at 01:10 PM | Permalink | Comments

03/19/12

Fleet sales boost local economies

When the Federal Insurance Deposit Corp. shuttered the Bank of Whitman last August, eight of the 20 branches were acquired by Columbia Bank. There was much work to be done, from deposit transfers to shifting employees and furnishings.As for the Bank of Whitman's fleet of company cars? They headed for the Parr Ford auto mall site, a central purchase point for residents of Pierce and Kitsap counties -- where sales of those vehicles benefit a myriad of auto-related businesses from service and parts to car washes and gas stations.

Posted at 01:08 PM | Permalink | Comments

03/19/12

Pacific Avenue re-opens, final phase of Sounder track and signal project begins

Pacific Avenue in downtown Tacoma re-opened this morning more than two months ahead of schedule after crews spent nine months building a rail bridge and re-grading and re-paving streets for Sound Transit's D to M Streets Sounder track and signal project. When the final 1.4-mile segment of the Sounder commuter rail project is complete, Sound Transit will begin operating five daily peak round trips from Lakewood to Seattle this fall with a service target date of Oct. 1.

Posted at 01:04 PM | Permalink | Comments

03/19/12

Google offering free websites for small businesses

Google is launching a free program to help the 55 percent of small businesses in Washington that do not have a website build an online presence. For the next year, as part of Washington Get Your Business Online, small businesses can go to http://www.washingtongetonline.com/ to get a free website - as well as free tools, training and resources.

Posted at 11:42 AM | Permalink | Comments

03/19/12

Wells Fargo marks anniversary with $160K donation to Washington charities

Wells Fargo & Co. is celebrating its 160th anniversary by donating $160,000 to three Washington nonprofit organizations. Through voting at local Wells Fargo ATMs, eligible customers in Washington determined how the $160,000 was divided among three charities.Northwest Harvest, a statewide hunger relief agency, is receiving $100,000. Junior Achievement, which empowers young people to own their economic success, will receive $30,000 and Nature Conservancy, which protects Earth's natural resources and beauty, is receiving $30,000.

Posted at 10:41 AM | Permalink | Comments

03/16/12

Flood warning for Chehalis River

Heavy rainfall received yesterday has produced river rises along the Chehalis River and its tributaries in Thurston County. The surge is passing through the middle reaches of the river and minor flooding is occurring with a crest less than one foot above flood stage around 11 p.m. this evening.Several roads in the Independence Valley are under water, including James Road, Independence Road and Moon Road. Flood waters will also cover nearby farm lands.

Posted at 02:58 PM | Permalink | Comments

03/16/12

Around the Sound

City Club of Tacoma hosts long-lived local businesses at its March 21, luncheon meeting. Brown & Haley, Rainier Connect, Burkhart Dental Supply and Harkness Furniture representatives will discuss a century of business. Non-members must RSVP by Monday afternoon at City Club of Tacoma.org  Doors open at 11:30 a.m. at Tacoma Art Museum.Auburn Area Chamber of Commerce luncheon on March 20 will feature CEO Kimberly J. Harris of Puget Sound Energy. Call (253) 833-0700 and Pegi Moll can provide more detail about the Emerald Downs location event.

Posted at 02:57 PM | Permalink | Comments

03/16/12

Weyerhaeuser, World Vision start diaper drive

Weyerhaeuser and World Vision are working together in response to the higher than ever demand for these products with a national volunteer initiative in the storehouses and sites where the international relief group works across the country."Diapers are one of the most highly requested items," explains Romanita Hairston, World Vision's vice president of U.S. programs. "As the economy continues to struggle, more parents have to make the difficult choice between buying groceries and buying diapers."

Posted at 01:46 PM | Permalink | Comments

03/16/12

Thurston Agri-tourism district approved

Thurston County Commissioners this week voted to amend the county code to include an Agritourism Overlay District. This change to  zoning will allow farmers and ranchers in the rural areas to better pursue tourist related activities on their lands.In establishing the district, commissioners had a couple of goals in mind, including the creation of rural agricultural economic development opportunities for areas furthest from the urban markets, and also providing year round economic incentives for farmers.

Posted at 11:04 AM | Permalink | Comments

03/16/12

Unclaimed property business workshops set

Businesses holding unclaimed property can learn about the obligation to report it to the state through free workshops being offered around the state by the State Department of Revenue.You can view the 2012 workshop schedule and register online by going to http://dor.wa.gov and clicking on the workshops and education link on the left.

Posted at 11:02 AM | Permalink | Comments

03/16/12

Consumer Price Index up slightly

The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers increased 0.4 percent in February on a seasonally adjusted basis, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Over the last 12 months, the all items index increased 2.9 percent before seasonal adjustment.

Posted at 11:00 AM | Permalink | Comments

03/16/12

Hourly earnings decrease

Real average hourly earnings for all employees fell 0.3 percent from January 2012 to February 2012, seasonally adjusted, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. A 0.1 percent increase in the average hourly earnings was more than offset by a 0.4 percent increase in the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers.Real average weekly earnings fell 0.3 percent over the month due to a decline in the real average hourly earnings combined with an unchanged workweek. Since reaching a peak in October 2010, real average weekly earnings has fallen 1.2 percent.

Posted at 10:58 AM | Permalink | Comments

03/15/12

Boeing will expand 787 work to Utah

The Seattle Times reported this afternoon that The Boeing Co. will supplement its Frederickson production operations with new workers at a Salt Lake City facility and in Italy. The Utah operation is currently working to produce the vertical tail pieces for 787 models to be assembled in South Carolina.The only Boeing manufacturing operation in Pierce County has long produced composite tail parts for the 777 and, more recently, 787 models. With the aircraft giant ramping up  output of this newest Dreamliner model, capacity growth is necessary for future derivations like the 787-9. But today's news means it will not be in western Washington.

Posted at 03:03 PM | Permalink | Comments

03/15/12

South King property moves

First-quarter highlights in the Kidder Mathews commercial real estate report include purchase of the O'Donnell Business Park in Kent Valley for $26.65 million by ProLogis Inc.. The four-building park is 310,000 sq. ft. located on about 17 acres at S 212th St and W Valley Highway.Significant industrial space leases reported are 99,000 sq. ft. in Kent North Corporate Park by VAS Aero Services, a major Boeing supplier. This gives the company a total of 294,000 s.f. in the industrial park, which is located on both sides of 80th Ave S, just south of S 180th St.

Posted at 02:43 PM | Permalink | Comments

03/15/12

People on the move

Brian Egan has been promoted to sales manager at Northwest Embroidery. He has worked for the Milton-based company for more than 20 years and is a graduate of Central Washington University. Jeffrey L. Smith has joined Port of Olympia as finance director. He is a Certified Public Accountant and has more than 20 years of maritime port experience and most recently was chief financial officer at Smith Brothers Farms in Kent. Smith previously worked as the senior director of finance and administration at the Port of Tacoma and was accounting manager at the Port of Vancouver, Wash., earlier in his career.

Posted at 02:24 PM | Permalink | Comments

03/15/12

Health plan enrollment for children starts today

Today marks the first open enrollment period of 2012 for people either looking to get their children individual health insurance coverage or for those wanting to add children to a family plan.The open enrollment periods apply to all health plans in the individual market and ends April 30.

Posted at 02:23 PM | Permalink | Comments

03/15/12

U.S. containerized imports up

Steady sales growth in both automobiles and existing homes over the last few months drove U.S. container import volumes up 4.1 percent in January to 1,475,608 million 20-foot-equivalent units.This marks the third consecutive month of year-over-year imports increase and a month-over-month climb of 11 percent.

Posted at 02:23 PM | Permalink | Comments

03/15/12

Thurston County to sell surplus items

Thurston County will be holding an auction, selling surplus items online. Items will be available for purchase starting March 19 at 9 a.m. and bidding will close April 2 at 9 a.m.

Posted at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments

03/15/12

Producer Price Index ticks up

The Producer Price Index for finished goods advanced 0.4 percent in February, seasonally adjusted, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today.Finished goods prices rose 0.1 percent in January and decreased 0.1 percent in December. On an unadjusted basis, the finished goods index rose 3.3 percent for the 12 months ended February 2012, the smallest year-over-year rise since August 2010.At the earlier stages of processing, the index for intermediate goods moved up 0.7 percent last month and crude goods prices increased 0.4 percent.

Posted at 11:00 AM | Permalink | Comments

03/15/12

Warm winter trims REI earnings

With a number of new retail locations (including Olympia) being added to a national network surrounding its Sumner base, Recreational Equipment Inc. (REI) grew annual sales by 8.4 percent in 2011. As the nation's largest consumer cooperative, the company added nearly 842,000 new members."However, because winter weather failed to arrive, our profitability was impacted," said Brian Unmacht, REI's executive vice president.Sally Jewell, company president, noted on its website, "warm weather in the winter that impacted profitability in the critical holiday season." Operating income was $116.2 million, down slightly from $116.6 million in 2010. Net income was $30.2 million, relatively flat to 2010.

Posted at 10:39 AM | Permalink | Comments

BE names 2012 Top Places to Work

03/14/12

BE names 2012 Top Places to Work

Business Examiner recognized its 2012 Top Places to Work honorees last night during a ceremony at Clover Park Technical College.This year's honorees included: Dillanos Coffee Roasters - Gratification and Medium Company; Eden Advanced Pest Technologies - Solidarity; Heritage Bank - Appreciation and Large Company; CodeSmart Inc - Equity; Charles Wright Academy - Integrity; Doty, Beardsley, Rosengren & Company - Small Company; and HopeSparks - Nonprofit.

Posted at 02:42 PM | Permalink | Comments

03/14/12

Tacoma fire chief retiring

Tacoma Fire Department Chief Ronald W. Stephens has announced his retirement effective March 29. He was appointed chief in 2006 and has served 35 years with the department.
Under Stephen's command, the Tacoma Fire Department achieved national accreditation from the Commission on Fire Accreditation International. He oversaw an effort to increase the diversity of the organization and developed a culture of public service.

Posted at 01:58 PM | Permalink | Comments

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