Category Archives: News Releases

All news releases from the Washington State Department of Commerce

State Community Economic Revitalization Board invests $2.5 million in infrastructure projects

Grants and low-interest loans will support economic development in Douglas, Franklin, Jefferson, Pacific, Skagit, Snohomish counties

OLYMPIA, WA – The Washington State Community Economic Revitalization Board (CERB) approved $2,572,039 in loans and grants for public infrastructure development and economic feasibility studies targeting business growth and job creation in the Port of Douglas County, Port of Pasco, Port of Port Townsend, Pacific County, Port of Anacortes, and City of Everett.

Douglas County – $291,552 loan and $87,412 grant to the Port of Douglas County for the Giga Watt Construction Project. It will extend domestic water, industrial irrigation water and sanitary sewer lines, install power conduit, vaults, landscaping, street lighting and storm water facilities, and excavate, compact and pave roadway into the property with a cul-de-sac for fire truck turn around. Giga Watt will invest $20 million, retaining 16 jobs and creating 61 jobs as a result of this project. CERB funds are matched by $94,741 in local resources.

Franklin County – $1.7 million loan and $300,000 grant to the Port of Pasco for ARM Aerial Research Facility Project. This committed private partner project will construct a 17,727 square foot pre-engineered metal building frame with metal sheeting and a metal roof. The U.S. Department of Energy will base $26 million worth of sophisticated scientific equipment in this building, retaining 15 jobs and creating three jobs as a result of this project. CERB funds are matched by $600,000 in local resources.

Jefferson County – $50,000 grant to Port of Port Townsend for a feasibility study to develop a business plan for the properties at the Quilcene Marina and industrial site that will support tenant growth, financial sustainability of the port and other community benefits. CERB funds are matched by $17,000 in local resources.

Pacific County – $49,200 grant to Pacific County for a feasibility study to develop an overall economic development plan addressing stagnant economic growth in Pacific County, including six identified geographic/culturally distinct sub-planning areas. CERB funds are matched by $16,400 in local resources.

Skagit County – $50,000 grant to Port of Anacortes to develop a real estate strategy that will include a market assessment, conceptual site planning and business plan for the port’s waterfront properties. CERB funds are matched by $29,000 in local resources.

Snohomish County – $45,000 grant to the City of Everett for the Everett Innovation Center. This is a feasibility study to finalize construction requirements, financial support and operations of the proposed center. CERB funds are matched by $13,500 in local resources.

“The CERB Program is designed to respond to emergent business development needs for public infrastructure and provide long-range feasibility planning to help communities plan for future business development. The projects approved today are perfect examples of how CERB partners with our communities.” said CERB Chair David Rhoden

“These targeted investments from Washington state’s capital budget are essential to building the infrastructure needed to support economic growth and create jobs that strengthen our rural communities,” said Brian Bonlender, director of the state Department of Commerce.

The release of CERB funds to these projects is contingent upon each applicant completing specific pre-contract requirements, such as finalizing other funding sources and obtaining necessary permits.

Preview CERB’s 2015 -17 Biennium in Review and check out CERB’s interactive project map for the 2015-17 approved projects.
Since 1982, CERB has committed nearly $174 million to local jurisdictions across the state, an investment generating more than 35,000 jobs, and private capital investments of a $5.6 billion ($34 to $1) return on CERB investment.

As Washington’s strategic economic development resource, CERB is focused on creating private sector jobs in partnership with local governments by financing infrastructure improvements. These improvements encourage new business development and expansion. In addition to funding construction projects, CERB provides limited funding for studies that evaluate high-priority economic development projects. Learn more about CERB at www.commerce.wa.gov/cerb.

Contacts:

Penny Thomas, Commerce Communications, (206) 256-6106

Janea Eddy, CERB Program Director & Tribal Liaison, (360) 725-3151

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Washington is America’s Top State for Business in 2017

“The Evergreen State soars above the competition”….CNBC.com

In case you missed it, Washington state jumped into the top spot in the annual CNBC Top States for Business rankings today.
Workforce, infrastructure, business costs, economy, quality of life, technology and innovation, education, business friendliness, access to capital and cost of living are scored by CNBC to come up with their annual ranking of America’s Top States for Business.
Washington moved up from sixth place in 2016.
Complete coverage, including Gov. Jay Inslee’s commentary on CNBC.com

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Southeast Washington Coalition receives 2017 Governor’s Smart Community Award

Program highlights commitment to preserving and protecting Washington’s enviable quality of life

OLYMPIA, Wash.  – The Washington State Department of Commerce presented on behalf of Governor Jay Inslee a 2017 Smart Communities award to the Southeast Washington Coalition consisting of Columbia, Asotin and Garfield counties and the cities of Clarkston and Starbuck for their regional growth management master program update.

The award celebrates the partnership that developed a Shoreline Master Program over three years with shared goals, policies and regulation for more than 300 miles of coastline. Partners accepting the award for the successful collaboration are:

  • Columbia County Planning and Building
  • Columbia County Commissioners
  • Asotin County Planning and Building
  • Asotin County Commissioners
  • Garfield County Public Works
  • City of Clarkston
  • Town of Starbuck
  • Brigham and Associates
  • Ben Floyd, Anchor QEA
  •  
    Judges commended the intense cooperation between many different elected officials with diverse needs, interests and constituencies.  The result is a Shoreline Master Program tailored to the unique conditions in each county while also providing consistent elements across county lines. The coalition successfully struck a balance between environmental protection, public access and water-oriented uses and achieving “no net loss” of ecological functions as they existed in southeast Washington in 2014.

    The one-of-a-kind regional plan, approved by the Department of Ecology without a single change, was completed on time and within budget.

    Judges described the process as “a very impressive model” and a “great example of visioning, community outreach and good planning – very smart!” They also applauded the group’s extensive stakeholder outreach and proclaimed it “top notch work and commitment by elected officials working together on tough questions.”

    Now in its 12th year, the Smart Communities program recognizes achievements by local leaders who promote smart growth planning and projects that contribute to thriving communities, a prosperous economy, and sustainable infrastructure in Washington State.

    “The award recognizes the hard work of citizens, businesses and local officials to make sure we have a healthy economy, and strong, resilient communities. Creating a ‘quality of place’ helps grow communities where people want to stay, raise families, and develop economies,” said Commerce Director Brian Bonlender.

    Washington’s comprehensive Growth Management Act has been in place for 27 years. Using it as a framework, local communities plan and implement their vision for the future. For more information on the Governor’s Smart Communities Awards or the Growth Management Act, visit www.commerce.wa.gov/growth.

    Contacts:        

    Penny Thomas, Commerce Communications, (206) 256-6106

    Mark McCaskill, Managing Director, Growth Management, (360) 725-3055

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    Wilcox Family Farms taps state Work Start grant to keep pace with growth

    Commerce awards funding for training, technical assistance to create 20 new full-time jobs over the next three years in rural Pierce County community

    OLYMPIA, WA – The Washington State Department of Commerce, in partnership with the Economic Development Board for Tacoma-Pierce County and nonprofit small business manufacturing consultant Impact Washington, has awarded $75,000 from the Governor’s Strategic Reserve Fund to help Wilcox Family Farms train new and current workers in lean enterprise principles and food safety.

    “Growing and retaining good jobs in rural communities like Roy is critical to strengthening communities,” said Commerce Director Brian Bonlender. “Work Start is an invaluable tool that allows us to do that by meeting the workforce needs of employers while investing in the training of the employees.”

    Wilcox Family Farms employs 135 people and is recognized globally for its high-quality and sustainable egg production and agricultural practices, earning several awards for innovation.
    Recently, the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) introduced by the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) strengthened regulations toward preventive controls and response planning. As a result, considerable worker and supervisor training must be integrated and adopted within food production processes.

    Founded in 1909 in Roy, Wash., the family-run business has grown more than 10 percent annually in recent years, adding new lines and new employees (Wilcox is currently seeking to fill about 15 more positions). The state Work Start grant will help the company keep pace and perpetuate growth and new jobs at the Roy facility.

    “As we expand our value-added product lines and add new employees to our workforce, it’s vitally important that they receive training in continuous improvement and food safety,” said Andy Wilcox, director of egg operations. “We have great employees, and the training funded by the Work Start grant makes them better while enabling us to move forward with our growth plans.”

    “Wilcox Farms is one of the leaders in the food sector integrating Lean Enterprise principles into their production and administrative processes, and Impact Washington is pleased to be their partner in this journey,” noted Loren Lyon, president of Impact Washington. “This, along with their diligence in understanding and applying food safety best practices, are elements that contribute to maintaining their leadership position and facilitating growth.”

    “As one of the largest employers in rural Pierce County, Wilcox Farms plays a critical role in that community’s economy by hiring residents into good jobs with good benefits,” said Bruce Kendall, president and CEO of the Economic Development Board for Tacoma-Pierce County. “The Work Start grant allows the 108-year-old company to remain competitive through the use of modern, organic, and sustainable farming practices.”

    Contact:

    Penny Thomas, Commerce Communications, 206-256-6102
    or

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    State companies enter deals, key relationships at Paris Air Show

    Nearly 300 meetings yield new contracts, propel business dealings, attract investment for state’s aerospace and commercial space industries

    OLYMPIA, WA – Company executives participating in the 2017 International Paris Air Show this week as part of a “Choose Washington” trade delegation led by state Commerce Director Brian Bonlender and U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen (WA-01) report numerous successes as they close out business and head home from the huge biennial event in Le Bourget, France.

    Gov. Jay Inslee would normally have led Commerce’s international trade and business development activities at the air show to highlight the importance of the global aerospace sector to Washington’s economy. Unable to attend this year due to unresolved state budget negotiations, Inslee requested that U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen (WA-02) stand in for him and co-lead the delegation with Commerce Director Bonlender.

    “In Paris, Washington’s largest-ever delegation proved yet again that Washington state can compete and win on the biggest aerospace stage in the world,” said Congressman Larsen, the top-Ranking Democrat on the House Subcommittee on Aviation. “The resources, contracts, and connections our delegation is bringing back to Washington state will boost jobs and the economy in the Pacific Northwest. Thank you again to Governor Inslee for asking me to lead the Washington delegation, and congrats to everyone on a job well done.”

    “It was an exceptional week for Washington State.  The official delegation of 18 companies, six county economic development groups, and more than 65 delegates worked tirelessly in sweltering heat up to 14 hours a day to make deals, attract investment, and grow jobs in our state,” said Chris Green, Department of Commerce assistant director for economic development and competitiveness.  “We were by far the best-represented state delegation at the biggest aerospace trade show in the world.”

    Among the highlights reported out on the final day of business at the show:

  • One delegate established a procurement contact with Lockheed Martin on the first day of the show. They had been unsuccessful finding the right entry point over the past several months working from the United States.
  • Another delegate is very close to securing a $3 million deal with a major original equipment manufacturer (OEM) after speaking with several international suppliers who are involved in the project during the show.
  • An announcement by Germany’s Premium AEROTEC that they would be opening an office in the Seattle area accompanied the signing of a formal Memorandum of Understanding between the Washington State Department of Commerce and the State of Niedersachsen, by Commerce Director Brian Bonlender.
  • Commerce arranged six group procurement discussions for the delegation, including meetings with Boeing United Kingdom, Thyssenkrupp Aerospace (Germany), and Cobham UK, based in Dorset, England. Cobham, a Tier 1 supplier to all major OEMs, is known for innovative technology solutions for problems from deep space to depths of the ocean. They met with six Washington companies.  One delegate called the discussion the most “fruitful” meeting of the show.
  • Commerce facilitated over 250 individual meetings for delegates, in addition to the group procurement meetings.
  • Foreign direct investment (FDI) was the focus of 40 meetings where Commerce staff reported more interest than ever this year in commercial space platforms for future investment strategies. Washington state is home to one of the world’s top emerging commercial space sectors.
  • Three standing-room-only business networking events hosted in the Choose Washington stand featured VIP speakers from Blue Origin, EMC2 (technology and advanced manufacturing cluster in Nantes, France) and Microsoft France.
  • One delegate had a drop-in meeting with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries that opened the door for a potential work package, saving the local company from making an additional trip to Japan this summer to explore this opportunity.
  •  

    Speaking to value of the significant, state-led presence at the all-important Paris Air Show, several delegates noted the access to CEO-level decision makers with current and potential clients and buyers. Normally they would be in contact only with procurement representatives.

    “This was the best Washington stand and management from Commerce at any show that Orion has joined in the past,”  Tom Brosius, general manager of Orion Aerospace, a leader in manufacturing and precision metal fabrication for aerospace, defense, automotive and marine industries worldwide, and veteran of multiple Washington state trade show delegations.

    “We had the best location in the U.S. Pavilion,” said Jim Davis, director of business development, Sagetech, makers of the world’s smallest aviation surveillance equipment.

    “The stand presented Washington state very well,” said Charles Woods, director of business development, Westwood Manufacturing, specialists in precision machining, sheet metal assemblies, plastic thermoforming and kitted components for UAV, aerospace, defense, space and marine industries.

    About 1,400 companies comprise Washington’s renowned aerospace industry supply chain, which serves Boeing, Airbus and every other major aircraft manufacturer in the world. More than 136,000 workers support the aerospace industry in Washington which is also a growing hub for space commercialization. Visit our website for a downloadable Delegate Directory and more information.

    Contacts:         

    Penny Thomas, Commerce Communications, 206-256-6102

    Douglas Wagoner, Rep. Larsen, (202) 226-9716

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    Commerce awards $2.3 million for clean energy research and development

    Impact Bioenergy, Janicki Bioenergy, Oscilla Power, SuperCritical Technologies and Zunum Aero selected for latest round of Washington State Clean Energy Fund grants

    OLYMPIA, WA – The Washington State Department of Commerce today announced five projects awarded matching grants from the state’s Clean Energy Fund to advance research and development in clean power technologies. They include innovative wave energy technology, a hybrid aircraft, bioenergy and small-scale electric power generation. The grants total just over $2.3 million, matched by another $33.2 million in non-state funding.

    “Washington state is committed to bold leadership on ensuring a low-carbon future for our children and their children. We must continue to make wise, fruitful investments in technologies that create good-paying jobs while protecting our environment,” Gov. Jay Inslee said.

    “As clean energy engages with our state’s other powerful industry sectors – aerospace, manufacturing, global health and information tech – Washington companies are poised to bring disruptive technologies to new customers all over the world,” Commerce director Brian Bonlender said. “These projects have potential to spur new business and economic growth that makes for strong, resilient communities.”

    Impact Bioenergy ($550,000) of Auburn, WA, will implement systematic, community-scale food waste biocycling on Vashon Island, WA. The decentralized system will eliminate the need to ship out food waste materials and bring in amendments like compost and fertilizer. Food waste will be converted to energy for heat, power and alternative fuel vehicles, liquid organic fertilizer and sequestered CO2 used in agriculture and horticulture.

    “In addition to an innovative product and passionate, talented people, now we have access to capital resources. Thanks to Governor Inslee and the Clean Energy Fund for that last ingredient, which rounds out our recipe to change the world,” said Impact Bioenergy CEO Jan Allen.

    Janicki Bioenergy ($283, 158) of Sedro-Woolley, WA, will demonstrate their innovative vapor recompression distillation system that produces clean, potable water from dairy manure wastewater using thermal evaporation, steam compression, vapor recovery and water treatment. This grant will demonstrate the commercial viability of Janicki’s technology, which has the potential to provide global sanitation in places with no public water or sewer systems.

    Oscilla Power ($1 million) based in Seattle, WA, will use grant funds to design, build and test a community-scale wave energy converter. The project will validate a cost-effective approach to unlock the untapped potential of ocean waves to generate massive amounts of renewable electricity around the world. Partners in the project are Glosten Associates, a Seattle-based naval architecture and marine engineering firm, and Janicki Industries, an advanced composite materials tooling and manufacturing firm based in Sedro-Wooley.

    “Washington state’s Clean Energy Fund provides crucial financial support for projects like ours. Together, we’re playing a leading role in advancing marine energy research and development to benefit communities here and around the world,” said Oscilla Power CEO Rahul Shendure.

    SuperCritical Technologies, Inc. (SCTI) ($283,158) of Bremerton, WA, is developing ways to use supercritical carbon dioxide (sCO2) instead of steam to generate electricity. They are investigating use of CO2 hydrodynamic bearings and related technologies such as tiny turbines and lubricants, to develop compact power plants. Modular units the size of shipping containers could generate electricity at the point of consumption, such as converting waste heat to power operations at an industrial facility, for example.

    Zunum Aero ($800,000) of Kirkland, WA, will develop the first commercial-class hybrid aircraft. Partners in this grant proposal include the Clean Energy Institute at the University of Washington, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) and the Grainger Center for Electrical Machinery and Electromechanics at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

    “We are excited that the Washington Clean Energy Fund is joining Boeing HorizonX and JetBlue Technology Ventures to support our development of breakthrough hybrid-electric aircraft for the early 2020s. This support will extend Washington leadership to a new era of aviation, and pave the way to green, quiet skies. Our hybrid aircraft will also benefit all of us across the state, offering door-to-door travel 2 to 4 times faster than today, and affordable service to many of the 64 federally supported airports in Washington,” said Zunum Aero CEO Ashish Kumar.

    This is the third round of grants awarded for clean energy research and development since the Washington State Clean Energy Fund was established in 2013. The fund also invests in revolving loan funds for commercial and residential energy efficiency, public and private utility electric grid modernization, and loan programs for solar and renewable energy manufacturing facilities. Last year, the Legislature approved over $100 million in capital budget funds to invest in clean energy and energy efficiency. It included $40 million for the state’s Clean Energy Fund. Learn more at www.commerce.wa.gov/CEF.

    Contact:

    Penny Thomas, Commerce Communications, 206-256-6106

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    Commerce to sign agreement with Niedersachsen Ministry during Paris Air Show trip

    U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen, Commerce Director Brian Bonlender co-host Washington state’s 70+-member delegation – the largest ever – to the world’s premier aerospace trade show

    OLYMPIA, WA – U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen (WA-02) and Washington State Commerce Director Brian Bonlender today kicked off four days of development meetings and VIP events for the state’s largest- ever trade delegation to the 2017 International Paris Air Show in Le Bourget, France. More than 70 individuals representing 18 aerospace-related companies and 14 of Washington’s ports, counties, schools, aerospace and economic development organizations are exhibiting, presenting and doing business at the world’s premier aerospace and space trade show, held every two years.

    “I want to thank Governor Inslee for asking me to come in his stead,” said Larsen, the top-Ranking Democrat on the House Subcommittee on Aviation. “I was here four years ago, and though the aerospace industry has changed a lot since then, one constant is that the aerospace marketplace is global and extremely competitive. Washington workers are competing not against other states as much as they are competing around the world, and we saw that day one here at the Paris Air Show.”

    Tomorrow, Bonlender will sign a memorandum of understanding on behalf of Washington state with the State of Niedersachsen, Federal Republic of Germany. The agreement expands on a longstanding relationship between the Department of Commerce and the Niedersachsen Ministry of Economics, Labor and Transport to foster technical collaboration and economic development between the two regions.

    The scope of the agreement includes collaboration on research, development and commercialization of products and services, information sharing, exchanges between business leaders, students and researchers and joint global marketing and promotion activities.

    “Washington and Niedersachsen are world leaders in the development and use of advanced technologies, sharing common strengths in the aerospace and renewable energy sectors,” Bonlender said. “New manufacturing technologies are disrupting key industries. Washington’s alignment of research, education and workforce development with business positions us well in this convergence of technology.”

    Last Friday and Saturday, a smaller group of Washington state delegates visited the French aerospace cluster in Toulouse that is home to Airbus. Greeted by the city’s mayor, they toured Airbus Defense and Space and met with the company’s senior vice president of procurement strategy and services. In addition, the Washington delegation visited Liebherr, which has a presence in Everett, WA, and presented to an audience of French businesses about doing business in Washington before attending a reception hosted by the French-American Chamber of Commerce.

    “We are looking forward to a very busy, exciting week here in Le Bourget,” said Washington Aerospace Sector Director John Thornquist. “Boeing and its suppliers have led a surge in aerospace investments in Washington state in recent years, with dozens of companies around the world coming or expanding here to serve the 777X and 737MAX programs, as well as burgeoning opportunities in space, unmanned systems and other segments of our aerospace industry.”

    Thornquist will speak about Washington state’s “Century of Global Aerospace Leadership” tomorrow at a session co-hosted by the French-American Chambers of Ile-de-France and Seattle. Tom Brosius, vice president and general manager of Auburn’s Orion Aerospace is also featured. On Thursday, Thornquist moderates a panel of international experts on aerospace industry workforce in the U.S. Pavilion, featuring Mary Kaye Bredeson, executive director of the Center of Excellence for Aerospace and Advanced Manufacturing in Everett, and Larry Cluphf, executive director of Washington’s Aerospace Training and Research Center, among the speakers from the U.S.A., France and the United Kingdom.

    About 1,400 companies comprise Washington’s renowned aerospace industry supply chain, which serves Boeing, Airbus and every other major aircraft manufacturer in the world. More than 136,000 workers support the aerospace industry in Washington which is also a growing hub for space commercialization.

    Follow the “Choose Washington” delegation this week @WAStateCommerce, #PAS17 on social media and visit our website for a downloadable Delegate Directory and more information.

    Contact:

    Penny Thomas, Commerce Communications, 206-256-6106

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    Commerce awards $11.8 million for local energy efficiency and solar projects

    Grants will lower energy costs in public buildings and create an estimated 514 jobs in communities across Washington state

    OLYMPIA, WA – The Washington State Department of Commerce today announced $11.8 million in energy efficiency and solar grants to help reduce energy costs at six higher education institutions, 27 local governments, four state agencies and 15 K-12 public school districts. Commerce awarded $8.3 million for energy efficiency projects and $3.4 million for solar photovoltaic projects. See the full list of projects.

    Construction spending on these projects will create an estimated 514 jobs. The total cost for all the projects is $51.9 million, including $39.8 million in non-state funds.

    “Investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency are vital to creating strong, resilient communities all over Washington state,” said state Commerce Director Brian Bonlender. “These grants create good jobs, save taxpayers money by reducing energy use and operating costs over the life of the projects, and help secure our clean energy future.”

    “Kettle Falls as a small community appreciates the continued support of the Department of Commerce in affording us the opportunity to use renewable energy and furthering our goal of reducing our expenditures,” said Kettle Falls mayor Dorothy Slagle.

    “Thanks to a grant award of $324,524, the South Kitsap School District will be able to perform in excess of $1.3 million in facility improvements at 10 locations. We are excited for this, our fourth round of energy saving projects, and continue our efforts to achieve maximum energy efficiency,” said Superintendent Karst Brandsma. “With these improvements, we expect to see more than $66,000 annually in energy savings. These types of funding programs are very important, and we wish to thank the Department of Commerce for their support.”

    The grants are awarded through a competitive process and must be used for energy and operational cost saving and solar installations.

    The 2015 Legislature appropriated $25 million for the statewide energy efficiency and solar grants program, specifying at least $5.7 million for projects that involve the purchase and installation of solar energy systems with a preference for Washington-manufactured systems. It also targeted small cities and towns (populations of 5,000 or less) to receive at least 10 percent of each competitive funding round.

    The city of Camas received three separate local energy efficiency grants in earlier funding rounds: two for facilities upgrades and one to convert street lights to LED.

    “One facility HVAC upgrade has already shown savings of over $26,500 per year for the first two years – 55 percent more per year than projected!” said Steve Wall, Camas public works director. “The second facility and LED street lights are expected to save an additional $100,000 and $22,000 per year, respectively. The Department of Commerce provides terrific support throughout the process and the savings generated have allowed the city to invest in other important services and projects that are underfunded,” he added.

    For more information, visit the Energy Efficiency page on the Commerce website.

    Contact:

    Penny Thomas, Commerce Communications, 206-256-6106

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    Commerce selects Disability Rights Washington to provide new state ombuds services

    OLYMPIA, WA – The Department of Commerce has awarded Disability Rights Washington the contract to provide ombuds services for the new Washington Developmental Disabilities Ombuds program.

    The Legislature created the Office of the Developmental Disabilities Ombuds to help protect the health and well-being of individuals with developmental disabilities. The office will act as watchdog, monitoring and reporting on the services provided in Washington state for potential situations of abuse and neglect.

    “I sponsored the bill to create this office because too many of our most vulnerable citizens have been left in unsafe and abusive conditions,” said Sen. Steve O’Ban, R-University Place. “This provides an advocate for families to work with the Department of Social and Health Services on ensuring the safety of individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities.”

    “The Office of the Developmental Disabilities Ombuds will monitor residential facilities, residences, and services, and make recommendations to the Legislature for reforms,” said Betty Schwieterman of Disability Rights Washington.  “We are honored to do this work and are confident the Ombuds’ efforts will lead to improved service delivery systems across Washington.”

    “Improving our state’s capacity to better serve vulnerable people is an important part of our work help build stronger and more inclusive communities,” said Commerce Director Brian Bonlender.

    ###

    About Disability Rights Washington

    Disability Rights Washington (DRW) is a private non-profit organization that protects the rights of people with disabilities statewide. Their mission is to advance the dignity, equality, and self-determination of people with disabilities. DRW is governed by a board of directors and with help from their advisory council, works to pursue justice on matters related to human and legal rights. These groups are made up of people with disabilities, family members, and others who have an interest in disability rights.

    Contacts:

    Peter Tassoni, Community Services and Housing Division, 360-725-3125

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    Weatherization Plus Health delivers cost-effective energy and health benefits

    Weatherization Plus Health, which combines weatherization and home environment improvements, shows potential for helping low-income households reduce their energy bills and their health care costs to control asthma.

    A 16-month pilot through the Department of Commerce’s Low-Income Weatherization Assistance Programs is nearing completion. We expect the final data and analysis in the next few months to help us verify these benefits and quantify the savings.

    The Weatherization Plus Health model is unique in bringing together construction professionals who can make home energy-efficiency improvements with community health workers who can assess asthma risks and target specific home asthma “triggers” for elimination.  For families with limited income and resources, the improvements offered can have a major positive impact on their lives.

    We built our pilot on a solid base of existing research that pointed to significant health impacts:

    • Washington State Department of Health has identified the asthma home visits done in Weatherization Plus Health as a best practice – an effective intervention to help control asthma symptoms.
    • A review of 20 studies found home-based, multi-component interventions improve overall quality of life and productivity in children and adolescents with asthma. (1)
    • A U.S. Department of Energy review found that enhanced energy efficiency upgrades (a major component of Weatherization Plus Health) reduce air contaminants linked to chronic illnesses, and control environmental contaminants that can trigger respiratory symptoms. They also reduce symptoms of asthma. (2)
    • The same review found that base energy efficiency work (a secondary component of Weatherization Plus Health) can reduce asthma symptoms and make improvements in indoor air quality contaminants. (2)

    Research also supports the benefits of a Weatherization Plus Health model on health symptoms, hospital and medications uses:

    • A November 2016 review of recent studies documented a 12 percent reduction in asthma-related emergency room use, a trend towards a 20 percent reduction in use of asthma “rescue” medicines, and a reduction in persistent colds, sinus infections, eczema and allergies. (3)

    Closer to home, two pilot studies in Washington state with pre-Weatherization Plus Health funding found:

    • In a Seattle/King County Public Health demonstration with King County Housing Authority, greater improvements in asthma symptoms were observed when home repairs were done to address home asthma risks. When home repairs were combined with home asthma education, a 71 percent improvement in poorly controlled asthma was observed. (4)
    • In another demonstration, Opportunity Council in Whatcom County found a greater than $400 decline in annual Medicaid costs and fewer Medicaid claims for households receiving energy efficient health repairs or “healthy home’s” repairs. (5)

    “We have seen the results repeatedly with families struggling with the risks and costs of asthma. Once we finish our evaluation in the next few months, we’ll have more evidence of what works that will help us make Weatherization Plus Health even more effective,” said John Davies, one of the early pioneers of Weatherization Plus Health work at Opportunity Council.

    Tim Bernthal is a Commerce Specialist in the Housing Improvements and Preservation unit. This team’s work strengthens communities through a variety of programs that fund low-income energy assistance, weatherization, lead-based paint remediation and removal and other work to improve homes throughout Washington. June is Healthy Homes Month. Visit our Weatherization Plus Health webpage, or contact Commerce program manager Hans Berg for more information.

    References

    (1) Crocker DD, Kinyota S., Dumitru GG, et al. Effectiveness of home-based, multi-trigger, multicomponent interventions with an environmental focus for reducing asthma morbidity: a community guide systematic review,  American Journal of Preventative Medicine, 2011;41(2 Suppl 1):S5-32.

    (2) Wilson, J., Jacobs D., Reddy A., Tohn E., Cohen J., Jacobsohn, E., Home Rx: The Health Benefits of Home Performance – A Review of Current Evidence, US Department of Energy, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, DOE/EE -1505. December 2016.

    (3)  E4The Future. Occupant Health Benefits of Residential Energy Efficiency (2016)

    (4)  Breysse, J., Krieger, J., et al. (January 2014). Effect of Weatherization Combined with Community Health Worker in Home Education on Asthma Control, American Journal of Public Health (King County).

    (5) Rose, E., Hawkins, B,; Tonn, B.;,Paton, D., Shah, L. (September 2015). Exploring the Potential of Weatherization Plus Health Interventions on Asthma-related Medicaid Claims and Costs in Washington State, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, ORNL/TM-2015/213, Oak Ridge, TN.

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