Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Monday, April 23, 2007

"AWB Urges Lawmakers to Consider Businesses in Washington's Border Counties"

A press release from the Association of Washington Business, dated April 12, 2007:
OLYMPIA—"The sharp contrast between the cost of doing business in Washington compared to its neighboring states should be of primary concern to lawmakers," said Don Brunell, president of the Association of Washington Business.

Brunell, who has spent the past few days meeting with chamber and business leaders in eastern Washington, said he was reminded of the competition between Clarkston and its "twin city" Lewiston, which is just over the Snake River in Idaho.

"Both cities fight hard for business. While Clarkston offers more readily available commercial property, Lewiston offers Idaho’s lower business and regulatory costs," said Brunell. "These are important considerations for businesses that are already on the border and looking for more affordable opportunities. Likewise, these are also important considerations for large businesses, like Costco or Home Depot, who may be looking at siting a new facility."

In the Milken Institute’s 2005 Cost of Doing Business Index, Idaho ranks as the nation’s 46th most expensive state to do business, while Oregon ranks 30th. In comparison, Washington ranks eighth. The differences are staggering—especially in border counties that lack the economic security that the Puget Sound region provides.

Idaho stays competitive by offering generous incentives to Washington businesses. "Unless lawmakers keep border counties in mind and pass legislation that provides them with regulatory relief, Washington may lose business to their more business-friendly neighbors," said Brunell.
Instead, the legislature just passed a five-week paid family leave bill, making Washington the only state to have such a program other than California. This combined with more stringent environmental regulations that were passed make us even less competitive with Idaho and Oregon. Meanwhile, the legislature did nothing to reinstitute property tax caps, land use regulation reform, or B&O tax reform that would make Washington more competitive.

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