The Lt. Governor Habib has continued his statewide outreach focused on economic developments, traveling to the Tri-City region, Snohomish County, and Kitsap County over the past three weeks to engage with local stakeholders on issues of job growth, workforce development, and creating international opportunities for communities across the state.
Lt. Governor Habib visited the Tri-Cities to keynote the Connect Tri-Cities conference, a multi-day event focused on connecting talent to education and career opportunities in the region. The event was hosted by Mission Support Alliance, a prime contractor at the Department of Energy’s Hanford Site, and organized with the help of labor unions, tribal nations, businesses, and nonprofits throughout the Tri-Cities, who jointly organized dozens of events including job site visits, career fairs, resume and interview workshops, a high school STEM competition, and more.
The event was conceived as a community response to the aging Hanford workforce, and the knowledge that the need for skilled workers in the trades, and in STEM careers is going to increase exponentially to support not just Hanford’s continued activities, but the Tri-City region economy as a whole, which is quickly diversifying into key areas such as healthcare, biotechnology, research and development, agriculture, and food processing.
Lt. Governor Habib spent two days in the Tri-Cities, speaking the first night at the United Association of Plumbers and Steamfitters Local Union 598 Reception, where he met with the UA General President Mark McManus. UA Local 598 is best known for representing Hanford workers, but the union in totality covers 21 counties in Eastern Washington and Oregon.
Wednesday night Lt. Governor Habib gave a keynote address at the Connect Tri-Cities Dinner, which brought together representatives from K-12 and higher education institutions, local elected officials, labor unions, tribes, veterans groups, and business for a culminating celebration of the week’s events. In his remarks he spoke about the importance of education and opportunity, drawing on his own experience as a child growing up with a disability and being given the opportunity to succeed through quality education and community support.
While in the Tri-Cities, Lt. Governor Habib met with the Tri-City Development Council to hear an update on the organization’s development initiatives for the region, and to discuss how to leverage the strengths of the Tri-Cities, including access transportation, high educational attainment, and the engineering, energy, and research talent sustained by the PacificNorthwest National Laboratory and the Hanford site to attract new business and greater economic diversity to the area.
Lt. Governor Habib also spoke to the region’s two largest Rotary Clubs, the Richland Rotary Club, and the Pasco-Kennewick Rotary Club to share updates on the work the Office of the Lieutenant Governor has been doing over the past year, and to talk about the importance of civic groups.
Lt. Governor Habib’s tour of Snohomish County day started with a meeting at the Economic Alliance of Snohomish County, who hosted a roundtable with community leaders to discuss the County’s efforts to diversify their workforce and grow family wage jobs. Snohomish County is home to almost 800,000 people and 22% percent of the County’s workforce is associated with manufacturing, which is almost twice the state average. The Economic Alliance of Snohomish County is working to increase opportunities for individuals to increase their skills—retool and retrain through various higher education opportunities, ranging from certificate programs to post-secondary degrees.
The Lt. Governor had the opportunity to visit and speak with the Everett Rotary Club while in the area. Speaking to the membership, he discussed the importance of the coming together to serve one’s community. Rotary International has a deep-rooted history in service and the Everett Rotary Club is no exception. Everett Rotary has a strong focus on helping high school students become college ready, by providing almost 200,000 dollars in scholarships and creating a program that helps students to buy school supplies and electronics for college.
In follow up to the roundtable in the morning, the Lt. Governor met with WSU Everett Chancellor Paul Pitre and toured the Everett University Center. Chancellor Pitre and WSU have been engaging with innovative ideas to connect their classrooms with campuses all over the state in pursuit of their vision of creating a global classroom. Chancellor Pitre and his team manage the Everett University Center, which is a state made consortium aimed at bringing industry-aligned undergraduate and graduate programs to the North Puget Sound region.The Everett University Center uses a 2+2 model, where students complete two years at a community college and then transfer into a bachelors program through any of the universities at the consortium, which includes Washington State University, Western Washington University, Hope International University, University of Washington Bothell, and Eastern Washington University. Many of the degrees offered at the Everett University Center focus on engineering and healthcare industries to create a skilled workforce that meets the demands of the County’s growing businesses.
Kitsap County, home to over 260,000 people is one of the fastest growing regions in the state. With its proximity to Seattle, high quality of life, and thriving defense, technology, healthcare, and tourism industries, it is facing major population increases over the next decade as Washingtonians along the I-5 corridor flee traffic and soaring housing prices.
Arriving in Kitsap County, Lt. Governor Habib first met with the Silverdale Rotary Club to tell his story, and speak to the economic development and higher education initiatives the office has worked on over the past year.
Lt. Governor Habib then met with over 20 community stakeholders convened by the Kitsap Economic Development Alliance to hear from leaders from business, tribes, local government, and education what the major challenges the Kitsap region is facing.
Issues discussed during the meeting included the growing need for healthcare workers in the region, how to sustain and grow Kitsap’s technology and defense industries, critical infrastructure investments including expanded ferry service and broadband access, and how to attract new businesses from around the United States and internationally.
Lt. Governor Habib ended the afternoon by keynoting the Fall Decision Makers II event, an annual conference hosted by the Kitsap Economic Development Alliance. The Lt. Governor joined industry experts and business owners, along with the Economic Development Director for ICT at the Department ofCommerce, Dr. Joseph Williams, to speak to an audience of business leaders and technology companies in Kitsap County.
The focus of the event was how to grow Kitsap County as a technology hotspot. Lt. Governor Habib’s remarks addressed how his office has worked to create local economic hotspots in communities across the state to collectively grow Washington’s economy. The key to creating a hotspot, is to increase access to higher education to grow local talent, make investments in critical infrastructure, and actively pursue business recruitment and investment nationwide and internationally.