A big part of our job here is to advocate on behalf of the businesses of all sizes and industries. To do that, we form relationships with local, state and federal governments and meet with representatives year-round.
Each January, we take a delegation of business leaders to Olympia in conjunction with the Spokane Valley Chamber of Commerce and the West Plains Chamber of Commerce for three days to meet with our state legislators, discuss issues, advocate for business-friendly laws, policies and projects, and much more.
We also bring our State Agenda, which outlines our region’s priorities. Let’s take a look at how it’s developed.
Each fall, we invite nonprofits and other community groups to present projects that need funding to our Public Policy Council, a group of 18 of our members representing a wide range of industries. The council then makes recommendations to the GSI Board of Trustees, which then approves our final State Agenda (we go through a similar process when we develop our Federal Agenda).
Last year, our State Agenda included funding for the Biomedical & Health Sciences Building Phase I at WSU Spokane, the North Spokane Corridor, and various higher education projects at Eastern Washington University and Spokane Falls Community College.
Those big capital projects aren’t the only ones included in our agenda. We’ve also included Levy Equalization for our K-12 public schools, funding for Spokane Transit Authority, the Northeast Community Center, Second Harvest, Mobius Science Center, Spokane Public Facilities District and lots, lots more.
One project that didn’t get as much attention as the big capital projects last year was our efforts to save the Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture (MAC). The MAC was on the chopping block during budget cuts, and our delegation, in partnership with the MAC, was able to successfully advocate for nearly $3 million to keep the Smithsonian-affiliated museum open for the next two years.
So, the big projects you hear about on the news aren’t the only items we’re addressing in Olympia. Our delegation is regional, unified and focused, knowing that projects that benefit the community deserve to be addressed.
We’ll keep you updated as our trip to Olympia in January rolls along. In the meantime, be the first to see this year’s State Agenda at our 2011 Legislative Forum & Reception on Nov. 22.