Advocating for Medical Lake Recovery, the North Spokane Corridor, and Education and Workforce Solutions
By Jake Mayson, Director of Public Policy, Greater Spokane Inc.
From January 17-19, Greater Spokane Inc. embarked on an impactful journey to the state capital for the much-anticipated 2024 Olympia Fly-In with more than 60 business, non-profit, elected, and public sector leaders from across the region. This annual event provides a unique opportunity for GSI partners and elected officials to come together, foster meaningful dialogue and advocate for policies that support the economic vitality of the Spokane region.
Trip partners this year included the Downtown Spokane Partnership, Greater Spokane Valley Chamber of Commerce, and West Plains Chamber of Commerce. This year’s event was presented by MultiCare. The Executive Sponsor was Providence, and Event Sponsors were Alaska Airlines, Desimone Consulting Group, and University of Washington.
The Olympia Fly-In kicked off with a morning session featuring Washington State Department of Commerce Director Michael Fong, focused on the current operations and priorities of the department. Discussion centered around affordable housing, accessible childcare, and expanding international trade among others. After a quick lunch and welcome from AWB President and CEO Kris Johnson, the delegation immediately hit the hill for afternoon sessions with the Spokane legislative delegation and House Republican Leader Rep. Drew Stokesbary (R- Auburn).
GSI delegates engaged with policymakers, forging connections that are instrumental in advancing the priorities of our region. The setting provided a platform for open discussions about the challenges and opportunities facing Spokane and allowed our representatives to convey the collective voice of our community.
The first day wrapped up with a well-attended reception at the Olympia Golf and Country Club as delegation members were joined by state legislators, staff, lobbyists, and friends from the area for an evening of networking and to hear from Presenting Sponsor MultiCare Health Systems, Alex Jackson.
Key Policy Discussions
The next day kicked off a full schedule of dynamic panel discussions and individual sessions addressing key policy areas in healthcare, transportation, economic vitality, and childcare. Topics ranged from workforce development investment and the North Spokane Corridor to regulatory issues and taxes impacting businesses. These discussions provided valuable insights for both GSI and policymakers, fostering a deeper understanding of the region’s needs and potential areas for collaboration. In the late afternoon, the delegation was once again visited by legislative leadership. Sessions concluded with visits from Senate Majority Leader Sen. Andy Billig (D- Spokane), Senate Republican Leader Sen. John Braun (R- Centralia), and Speaker of the House Rep. Laurie Jinkins (D- Tacoma).
The final day of the Fly-In concluded with a breakfast session discussing the impacts of and solutions to Organized Retail Crime in our communities. Headlined by President and CEO of the Washington Retail Association Renée Sunde, the session spanned a variety of challenges faced by investigators, prosecutors, and retailers in Washington and policy before the legislature this year to address some of those issues. We also heard from GSI Chair Stacey Cowles.
The GSI Lobby Team Looking Forward
As the GSI 2024 Olympia Fly-In concluded, the spirit of collaboration, advocacy, and community engagement continues to reverberate. The insights gained and relationships formed during this event will serve as a foundation for ongoing efforts to shape policies that support the economic prosperity of the Spokane region.
This year’s short legislative session will continue to move apace as policy is negotiated and bills introduced. GSI remains committed to amplifying the voice of the community and working collaboratively with policymakers and partners to build a vibrant and resilient future for Spokane.
Thank you to this year’s sponsors: Presented by MultiCare, Executive Sponsor: Providence, and Event Sponsors: Alaska Airlines, Desimone Consulting Group, and University of Washington.
Join Us Next Year
Opportunities to engage in public policy on the state level continue year-round. If you are running in to regulatory road blocks or believe you have solutions to issues in your industry, please don’t hesitate to reach out. GSI now facilitates small group discussions with policymakers in Olympia during our legislative fly-in and would appreciate any interest in joining these teams.
If you or someone you know would be interested in attending next year’s Olympia Fly-In or if you have questions about this year’s trip or any policy discussed, please contact Director of Public Policy Jake Mayson at (509) 321-3625 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or learn more about GSI advocacy efforts here.