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CEO Blog: Creating an Agenda is Tough, But the Hard Work is Just Beginning

Acting as the region’s leading voice for business and communities is no easy task. Advocacy is enough of a challenge, but the process to create the priority agenda we want to advocate can offer even greater difficulty.

Since coming to Washington less than six months ago, I have repeatedly heard from individuals throughout the area that the regional agenda articulated by GSI for the past several years in Olympia and Washington, DC, was both too long and in need of focus. Clearly, it was time for us to embark on a new strategy to strengthen our advocacy efforts. With numerous business members, stakeholders and communities to consider, however, this transition can be especially difficult.

GSI was determined to retool itself as we created eight new issue-focused committees that were open to our diverse membership. These members helped us identify issues, analyze and discuss, in-depth, the merits for including these issues as part of our advocacy. Over 100 members considered positions that were recommended on issues to improve our business climate, create jobs, accelerate economic growth and fight against issues considered a threat to business vitality. A similar process was also developed to analyze and rank projects requiring capital funding and appropriations. Using a set of criteria that included a project’s regional impact, available and matching funds and other support, projects were voted on by GSI’s Public Policy Council and ratified by our Board of Trustees.

In total, 48 items were considered and 24 of them made it to final approval as GSI’s 2015 State Legislative Priority Agenda. As one can imagine, there were many good projects presented that did not make the list. Most, if not all, could receive GSI’s support, but the items presented represent a list of issues and projects we most strongly feel should be advanced first. As time goes on and new opportunities emerge for those that remain, we will consider putting our muscle behind them as well. Recent legislative sessions have missed opportunities to pass needed and substantive policy changes to not only advance our region, but our entire state.

I have always been an optimist. I believe that elected officials, regardless of political party or personal agenda, can come together on important issues and be problem solvers. It’s what we should expect from our elected officials. This year we will go one step further and create a public record that recognizes the work of Eastern Washington legislators through a Legislative Scorecard. This end-of-session report will indicate the votes cast by each member of our delegation on all issues related to our priorities. There will be no partisanship here, only a count for all our legislators to show who carried the water for business and our region.

I am grateful for the hard work and tough decisions made by our volunteers and board of directors. Our work, however, is just beginning. It’s time for results. I urge you to join us by becoming a member of our advocacy team. Stay plugged in and when we request additional voices to amplify our message, respond by communicating with your legislators. To become an influential member of our activist efforts, contact Joshua Deal.

Steve Stevens
Greater Spokane Incorporated

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