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Advocacy Round Up: SeaTac Airport; New 520 Bridge Closure; Construction Alerts

Posted By Chris Johnson, Friday, April 15, 2016

The Future of SeaTac Airport

Anyone who has flown in or out of SeaTac Airport recently, knows it is bursting at the seams. Port staff recently briefed our Public Affairs Committee on the Sustainable Airport Master Plan. Stay tuned and help shape Chamber feedback to the Port on this vital project.

SR 520 closure will complete move to new bridge starting April 22

Westbound traffic is already moving across the new SR 520 floating bridge. Soon the bridge will be open to Eastbound traffic – after a final full bridge closure next weekend, April 22 – 25. All lanes between Montlake Blvd. and 92nd Ave. NE will close at 11 PM on Friday and reopen 5 AM on Monday. More details are available at the WSDOT project webpage.

Sound Transit Construction Alert

As a part of the East Link Light Rail Project, Sound Transit will begin demolishing properties on April 18, in the vicinity of 112th SE and SE 1st Place.

For more information regarding temporary sidewalk and lane closures, hours of construction and the permanent closure of SE 1st Place, visit the East Link Project webpage.

Extended Closure of 114th SE in Bellefield Area

The construction season is upon us and the City of Bellevue will continue work to upgrade the Wilburton Sewer Main. This means 114th SE will be closed to through traffic between SE 6th and SE 8th from Monday, April 18 through early July. Track the project here.



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A New Twist on Spring Cleaning

Posted By Chris Johnson, Friday, March 25, 2016

Easter is here and now it is time to clean out your closet. The good news is damaged clothes aren’t garbage anymore – now you can “threadcycle” them. That’s right – instead of taking up space in a landfill, your used clothing and shoes can be reused or recycled for industrial use.

For more information, see the attached news release from the City of Bellevue Utilities Department or check out the “threadcycle” website.



 Attached Files:
Threadcycle .pdf (197.08 KB)

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Open House for Newport Way Upgrades

Posted By Chris Johnson, Friday, March 25, 2016

With all the focus on how to get in and out of Downtown, we don't want to overlook the rest of Bellevue. For those who have waited many years for improvements to SE Newport Way, your time has arrived.

The City of Bellevue is holding an open house on proposed upgrades to this important corridor.

Event details: Wednesday, March 30, 5 - 7 PM at the South Bellevue Community Center, 14509 SE Newport Way.

Check out the full news release.



Tags:  Bellevue  Eastgate  Factoria  Newport Way 

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End of Session Update

Posted By Chris Johnson, Monday, March 21, 2016

Session Update

The Regular Session of the Legislature ended on March 10 – with no agreement on a supplemental budget. Leadership now has 30 days to work out a deal – the biggest roadblock being use of the “rainy day fund.” Forest fire suppression will likely qualify, but negotiators are miles apart on using emergency dollars to boost teach salaries or to fight homelessness.


Charter Schools Still In Business

Just 24 hours before adjourning, the House passed SB 6194 – keeping charter schools open for 1,100 students across the state. Public charter schools are now codified in state law and have a funding source – the WA Opportunites Pathway Account. As amended, the bill prohibits access to local levy dollars and does not allow coversion of existing common schools to charter status.


Changes Coming to I-405

Tolls will no longer be collected on nights and weekends – due to emergency rulemaking by the state Transportation Commission. After 120 days, the Commission will decide whether to make the changes permanent. Look for more information on this page, as WSDOT makes changes to express toll lanes and continues project construction along the I-405 corridor.


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Congress Approves Reauthorizations for Highways Funding & Ex-Im Bank

Posted By Chris Johnson, Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Thanks to our members and strategic partners across the country for helping achieve the congressional reauthorizations for a five-year highway and mass transit bill that will increase infrastructure funding, reauthorize the Ex-Im Bank, and implement an important permit streamlining provision.

The President signed the bill into law last Friday, December 4. The Bellevue Chamber was part of a large grassroots coalition organized by the US Chamber of Commerce that has spent the past 18 months working these efforts.

Funding - The bill provides $305 billion over five years for highways and mass transit, without an increase in taxes. It will provide an immediate boost in spending in 2016-a 5.1% increase for highways and an 8.8% increase for mass transit. It will give states the certainty they need to undertake long-term projects and to begin to address the backlog of much-needed transportation and transit work. This bill represents enormous progress following years of short-term extensions with no increase in spending levels.  

Ex-Im Bank
- Our state, which is heavily dependent on Trade, was an advocate for the reauthorization of the Ex-Im Bank. Our letters in support were part of a large grassroots engagement championed by the US Chamber the last 18 months. Our economy relies on exports. In fiscal year 2014, Ex-Im Bank provided financing or guarantees for $27.5 billion in US exports.

Permit Streamlining - The permit streamlining provisions in the highway bill will improve and speed up the review and approval of permitting for complex development projects, ensuring that projects are not unnecessarily delayed or canceled because of ineffective and uncoordinated reviews by federal agencies. It is one piece of regulatory and permitting reform that is important to the business community.  

Washington State Projects - Good news: $1.6 billion has been included in the 2015-18 federal TIP for road and transit capital projects in the Evergreen State.

Examples include:

  • Bellevue 120th Avenue NE Corridor Project - $6,479,075
  • I-405/SB Coal Creek Interchange - ITS Improvements - $220,500
  • I-90/WB Mercer Slough to W Lake Sammamish Parkway Paving –  $5,476,389
  • SR-520 - I-5 to Medina - Stage 1, Design Build SR 520: Medina to I-405 and SR 520 Pontoon Construction – approximately $283,000.000

 Links: Complete AWB news article, and project list.

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Getting Attuned to the SAMP

Posted By Lincoln Vander Veen, Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Sea-Tac’s Sustainable Airport Master Plan is a long-term blueprint for airport development to meet the needs of the traveling public, while reducing environmental and social impacts. And boy oh boy, are the needs of the traveling public exploding. Generally, airport directors are happy with 2% passenger growth. At Sea-Tac, passenger growth was 7.7%  higher in 2014 than the previous year and so far this year growth is up more than 13%! So how is Sea-Tac and the region planning to accommodate that growth over the next 20 years? Check out the SAMP PowerPoint presentation here, housed on the Chamber’s website.

The Chamber will officially weigh-in with airport officials and the port commission late this month. When the Chamber’s correspondence is finalized, we will share it with you all on the transportation committee page.

Tags:  airport  SAMP  Sea-Tac  Sustainable Airport Master Plan 

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September Revenue Forecast Update

Posted By Lincoln Vander Veen, Tuesday, September 15, 2015

The Washington State Economic and Revenue Forecast Council just released its September revenue forecast. From the September Report:

“Total nonfarm payroll employment rose 19,800 (seasonally adjusted) in May, June, and July, just 1,600 more than the 18,300 expected in the June forecast…The construction sector added 700 jobs in the last three months…Government payrolls expanded by 1,800 jobs in the last three months.”

And specifically on housing:

“…Washington housing permits declined sharply from an eight-year-high 53,600 units (SAAR) in the first quarter of 2015 to a more sustainable 36,800 units in the second quarter…In the June forecast we viewed the first quarter surge in permits with skepticism both because the weather was unseasonably mild and because the strength was in the volatile multi-family segment…Seattle home price appreciation has slowed in recent months. According to the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices, seasonally adjusted Seattle area home prices increased 0.2% in June following a 0.1% decline in May. Seattle home prices are still up 7.4% over the previous June and are 35.2% higher than the November 2011 trough. Seattle area home prices have recovered to just 6.1% below the May 2007 peak.”

The major general fund-state revenue collection for the August 11 – September 10 timeframe came in 3.0% above June’s forecast – a total of $38.9 million. Total payments in the retail trade sector were up 7.0% year over year. Payments from motor vehicles and parts sector increased by 13.8% year over year. Specific retail sectors showing strength include nonstore retailers, drug and health stores, furniture and home furnishings, and electronics and appliances. Gas stations and convenience stores had a year-over-year decline in payments by more than 4%.

What does this mean for state lawmakers? It means that lawmakers have more than $100 million more available to them through the middle of fiscal 2015, and that they’ll have an additional $365 million more than additionally projected for the 2015-2017 biennium. In July lawmakers reached a biennial operating budget agreement that totaled nearly $38 billion. The growing economy means that the 2017-2019 budget is projected to be $41.3 billion.

The next forecast is scheduled to be released later this year on November 18.

View the full revenue forecast update here.

Tags:  applianes  Economic and Revenue Forecast Council  electronics  health stores  home furnishings  retail sales 

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On The Move Bellevue Perks Program

Posted By Lincoln Vander Veen, Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Looking for a great way to promote your business?

The On The Move Bellevue Perks Program is designed to reward Bellevue employees and residents for choosing green commute options.

Program participants who log eight or more days a month of no-drive-alone travel on their On The Move Bellevue calendar are eligible for monthly drawings and also qualify for a monthly discount or complimentary item from a local Bellevue business.

Great Perks come from great Perks Partners. On The Move Bellevue has been fortunate to partner with local businesses in Bellevue and they are looking forward to partnering with more. Get in touch with On The Move Bellevue staff to learn how to become involved with a sustainable community program, while also gaining valuable access to a distinct audience. More than 1,000 participants qualify each month!

Being a Perks Partner requires little to no time and it is up to you what kind of Perk you’d like to offer. On The Move Bellevue staff create the coupon and promote your business through social media, a monthly newsletter and On The Move Bellevue. Get in touch by emailing and learn more here.

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Cuba in May

Posted By Lincoln Vander Veen, Tuesday, August 18, 2015

In May, the Bellevue Chamber led a group of Bellevue business people, along with a handful of other travelers, to Cuba. It must be immediately said that if you ever get the chance to visit Cuba do not pass it up! Cuba is a devastatingly beautiful island country with a romantic mystique to match. Whether in Havana or Camaguey or anywhere in between, the natural and architectural beauty of Cuba is on display in astounding diversity. It’s almost mythical, honestly.

We landed in Camaguey, travelled to Cienfuegos, Trinidad, and finished our trip in Havana.

Camaguey (prounounced CAMA-way – at least that’s how this American pronounces it!) is a city in Cuba that serves as the capital of Camaguey Province. Of course it’s beautiful, unique, and seemingly full of life. We travelled outside of Camaguey to King Ranch one day and spent time at a family pottery-making business, too. We ate great food (must eat the pork!), enjoyed great music, great people, and at least a few mojitos. Cienfuegos is wonderful, too (and the home of Yasiel Puig!). The city’s cobblestone streets and gathering places made strolling around uniquely serene. We took in cultural attractions, sampled all the wares Cienfuegos had to offer and, of course, enjoyed the food and drink! Trinidad is a gem. There is no other way to put it. A UNESCO world heritage site with incredible scenery, Trinidad offers amazing views, labyrinth walkable streets, and an “I’m in a different world” sense of reality. It’s beyond gorgeous. Finally, Havana. Oh, Havana. Exceptionally mystical. My hotel room looked down at the Gulf of Mexico beyond the Malecon and Meyer Lansky’s Rivieria which, in terms of historical relevance, is a symbol of the reasons behind Fidel Castro’s revolution. We ate, we strolled, we laughed, we played. We went to a show at the Buena Vista Social Club, visited Ernest Hemingway’s place outside the city, and visited Museo de la Revolucion.

The first thing people ask when they find out I’ve been to Cuba: “what about the cars?” The old American cars are ubiquitous, in Havana especially. We were chauffeured on a couple occasions in cars I never thought I’d sit down in. I’m not a car guy, but sitting shotgun in an original 1948 Bel-Air while driving along the Malecon talking to the driver in broken-Spanish is ten minutes I’ll never forget. A new television show on Discovery, “Cuban Chrome,” does a good job of depicting the reality of old cars and the old car market in Cuba.     

If you have questions about Cuba, call your friends at the Chamber! We had a blast, you will too!

Tags:  Bay of Pigs  Cienfuegos  Cuba  Havana  Pasiel Puig  Trinidad 

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Is it time for Cuba to ease travel restrictions?

Posted By Lincoln Vander Veen, Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The Administration of President Barack Obama is pushing hard for the normalization of economic and cultural ties with Cuba, a long-time official adversary of the United States since Fidel Castro came to power in 1959. The latest news, reported in the Wall Street Journal, easing restrictions on air travel to Cuba for Americans, is, in many ways, more impactful than the opening of a new U.S. embassy in Havana. But an important question remains: what happens after they land?

Presently, an American travelling to Cuba is largely restricted to the whims of an official government-approved guide, with reasonable exceptions. In practical terms, an official guide makes sense. For instance, Cuba has two currencies: the Cuban peso (CUP) for Cubans and the Cuban convertible peso (CUC) for tourists. An official guide can help an American traveler quickly understand the distinction, along with other practical reasons, like currency exchange rates and locations, taxi services, etc. However, travelling freely in Cuba, an American could stop and ask a rural farmer why he’s spreading rice on a country road to dry, instead of selling his crop. He could freely ask why Cuban baseball players continue to risk life-and-limb to flee Cuba, or he could more freely ask his waiter at a paladar what type of free enterprise restrictions are cumbersome to business expansion and private enterprise. It would certainly expand American cultural awareness if travel guides within Cuba didn’t have to go through rigorous government processes.

Allowing Americans to travel freely within Cuba will definitely lead to positive change, there is no doubt. Freedom of ideas and freedom of commerce will change Cuba and, in the process, change the United States.   

Tags:  Cuba  CUC  CUP  Havana  Wall Street Journal 

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