News, Updates & Resources for the Region
This article was authored by PNWER Innovation co-chair, Nirav Desai, CEO of Moonbeam Exchange, and was originally published as op-ed in Medium.
You can fit more than 40 Bends or 120 Walla Wallas in metro Seattle, and still have room for a few more Starbucks.
Named after the Farewell Bend in the Deschutes River, tech workers and executives have been making the delighted acquaintance of outdoor sports and craft-beer utopia Bend for several years. Nestled between the Cascade Mountains and the high desert, Bend is a summer and winter sports destination. It is also home to some of the best-known craft breweries in the region, including Deschutes, 10 Barrel, and Crux. The quality of life in Bend helps explain why its remote workforce also grew 23% between 2013 and 2015. (Source: Bend Bulletin)
Walla Walla began its life known as Nez Perce, so named for the fort built there to establish trade relations with the local indigenous group of that name. Since then, the eponymous county seat (which changed its name when the fort did, to the indigenous phrase “place of many waters”) was reborn again and again, from a missionary college to a fur trading hub for Hudson Bay, to an Army fort again, to a Gold Rush town, and for about a century after, an agricultural center of south-eastern Washington.
If you drive in, your first sights of the city limits will show you those agricultural foundations remain intact, but at least as often as wheat or Walla Walla sweet onions (the state’s official veggie), you’ll see sprawling, scenic wineries, whose Merlots, Cabs, and Syrahs flourish in the region’s Mediterranean climate. With these wineries come the attendant businesses: high-end restaurants, luxury hotels, and festivals.
Look closely, and you’ll see that none of this rural luxe is bolted ad hoc onto the gentrified quarter of an otherwise sullen community of less-fortunate townies. The vineyards, craft breweries (wheat remains an important staple), and restaurants harness local skill sets that were already there, honed by over a century. The elegant Marcus Whitman hotel, boasting tech-enabled conference centers and plush meeting rooms, is a rehabilitated local landmark nearly a century old.
This booming local hospitality and service industry in both towns wouldn’t exist without standing demand. Between four to six hours from both Portland and Seattle, they are a driveable weekend destination, but what’s made Bend and Walla Walla Cinderella stories rather than a boom town flash in the pan is their ability to strategically innovate and attract talent. They have found a way to attract a unique brand of tech commuters: tech elites empowered by the ongoing remote-work revolution to trade 10th floor office window views of 1st Ave for home offices close to hiking and mountain biking destinations.
None of this was an accident.
Rather, it is a testament to smart regional economic development. The success of certain north-western small and medium cities like Walla Walla and Bend are creating a model for sustainable small towns that has fertile ground across the region and the nation. The COVID-19 pandemic lit a fire under the telework movement- 77% of human resources executives expect the trend toward remote work to continue, even one year after COVID-19 substantially subsides. (Source: Conference Board 2020 survey) The sprouts of economic recovery before the large-scale reopening of the country has even begun demonstrates, in part, that productive remote work has found its footing: companies able to maintain a remote workforce have found overwhelmingly that productivity has been maintained or increased, coupled with the obvious massive savings in costs of facilities, travel, and centralized infrastructure.
When you can work anywhere, sooner or later you’ll probably ask yourself, “do I have to live in a dense technology center just to do my job?”
Now that it’s been proven possible, demand for alternatives to dense urban lifestyles for skilled technology sector workers has hatched, and it’s only going to grow.
Communities just need to show up.
Not A Bedroom Community — A Fully-Integrated Local Economy
Walla Walla’s was powered by calculated moves made by the local government. Harnessing the skills and assets of the existing population and localities included pivoting- not replacing- to adjacent value creation. Their community college invested heavily in leveraging a long-standing, quality agricultural sciences program to quickly develop local viniculture talent, creating a standing workforce ready to put existing farmland and infrastructure to work. Surrounding commercial zones (extant or created) transitioned to upscale dining and retail collateral to the wine boom; demand for hospitality followed naturally. Bend has been marketing its quality of life for remote workers for years citing high profile profiles of commuting and remote working tech executives. According to the U.S. Census in 2015, 9.3% of Bend workers are remote workers. (Source: Bend Bulletin)
The planned revitalization and growth into a lifestyle city holds balance at its core. This isn’t about building an amusement park and resort in the middle of a desert; existing, localized value, skills, and labor are the starting point. When Amazon built its Seattle headquarters, for example, a condition of their agreement with the city was that the campus would not include a cafeteria and similar support facilities- employees would need to engage the surrounding communities for places to eat, gather, do laundry, get healthcare, and so on. For a second or third-tier city to plan its evolution into a lifestyle city, this sort of social contract is even more important, because there won’t be facilities popping up downtown, built by the employers of your incoming tech elite. You’ll need to grow your own- and the potential upside to your local population is far, far greater than becoming a company or campus town.
Where Can Cities Start?
While every city heading down this evolutionary path brings unique value to the table, there are fundamentals every planning committee should begin with. A solid, complete coverage of high-quality broadband is an absolute necessity, and the very first thing any municipality should prepare if they want to benefit from remote working trends. For many rural communities who aren’t already in this position, it’s the most daunting- but there’s a wealth of resources for clearing this hurdle. The Rural Economic Development Innovation (REDI) Initiative (for communities of 50,000 or less), Telecommunications Infrastructure loans and loan guarantees, and Strategic Economic And Community Development funding are all offered by the US Department of Agriculture for rural communities taking steps to develop infrastructure- and there are numerous grants within, and beyond, these programs.
Consider enlisting the services of an agency that can help you gather and analyse data on value in your region- what do you have? what do you want to attract? How to partner with other innovators? and the expertise to benefit from other investments and compete globally.
The post-COVID business landscape holds the seeds of a renaissance in the relationship between work and location, and unprecedented opportunity exists for communities able to offer unique, distinctive character beyond the urban landscape. The development of lifestyle cities allow small towns the opportunity to create sustainable growth, retain their character, and honor their history while building a future.
— The acceleration of transition to full-time remote work has created an unprecedented opportunity for small cities in the Northwest to create vital, sustainable local economies catering to technology workers now able to sustain well-paying work outside of dense urban tech centers.
— This opportunity allows localities to enjoy the tax revenue of high-income — residents without the accompanying disruption to economic balance, or tax breaks to companies associated with the more traditional introduction of business facilities (factories, offices, etc.).
— The impetus is on the locality to provide the essential building blocks of a lifestyle city attractive to this influx: broadband internet and attractive activities unique to the community (restaurants, culture, local specialties) are a minimum.
— Communities will need to leverage their intrinsic value- natural beauty, local attractions, and existing infrastructure that can be upgraded or pivoted to create a balance of quality living accessible to both existing populations and incoming talent.
— Every move should be calculated to capture value, invite sustainable levels of growth, and invest in core capabilities; this begins with an intensive data analysis of local and regional factors.
This article was authored by PNWER Innovation co-chairs, AK Sen. Mia Costello and Nirav Desai, CEO of Moonbeam Exchange, and was originally published as op-ed in the Anchorage Daily News and Medium.
As the roots of America were being established, Lisbon was one of the richest cities in the world. In 1755, an earthquake that caused a fire brought the Portuguese economy to a grinding halt. In that local crisis, Amsterdam and London displaced Lisbon’s trading empire. A crisis that closed down one city displaced a global empire. The COVID-19 pandemic has shaken the world economy to its core — bringing cities and national economies to a grinding halt. But like any large machine, the U.S. and global economies will need an orderly restart to get humming again. We will recover from this, but economic patterns have changed. Localities that identify these changes and innovate to address emergent challenges will be the ones that prosper. As we reopen the economy, what lessons will we learn, and how will we retool to make the Pacific Northwest economic region even more vibrant than it was?
While we are still in the midst of this crisis, we propose that when envisioning the creation of a “New Normal,” we consider four distinct but overlapping phases of the response: (1) health security, (2) economic restoration, (3) economic retooling, and finally (4) the new normal.
Phase One: Health Security
First, we need to stop the spread of COVID-19 while keeping the health care system functioning. It appears that social distancing, while resulting in a halting of the economy, is working to do this. However, as a nation, we cannot go on too much longer. We need to develop a plan that reopens the economy in a safe way and in a way that minimized downstream health and economic problems.
Phase Two: Economic Restoration
Once economies open for business, we will not be able to go back to work as normal. Assuming that economies open up again in early July, businesses need to start planning now for the contingency of a second wave causing us to need to take similar measures in December. In that time, companies need to create and train for a new normal, repair equipment and get factories humming again, and plan for a second wave. While travel will start up again, there will likely continue to be travel restrictions, more shift work, and more regular health checks and compliance guidelines. Further, international supply chains will continue to be a challenge.
Key to economic restoration is that we must make sure that producers and industry to keep functioning. This will make the task of supporting adjacent businesses (e.g. suppliers, shops, restaurants, and small businesses that cater to anchor industry workers) to get back on their feet and thrive easier. Further, we need to think about how to get the region exporting again.
Phase Three: Economic Retooling
The crisis has uncovered gaps, vulnerabilities, and strengths. It is also likely to change consumer and industry behavior. With all these changes, we need to:
Phase Four: Creating the New Normal
The first three phases are traditional recovery. But then traditional recovery activities end, we will be living in a new reality. We need to harness innovation to challenge industry to address the gaps globally, and export capabilities that:
As this crisis continues, our lessons are mounting. The pressure on the health system and the shelter-in-place orders uncovered conditions in society that leave us all vulnerable. There were also some notable successes — where technologies and innovations, though developed for other reasons, made the economy a bit more resilient. And COVID-19 made us think of other issues and risks that, while perhaps not causing problems in this crisis, could fail in a different crisis.
What Went Wrong — Vulnerabilities and Gaps
Health capacity is limited — For years, there has been an effort on efficiency in health care which has limited the number of unused hospital rooms and constrained deployment of technology. As such, the U.S. health care system operates far too close to its capacity on a typical day that it is ill-equipped to surge for a crisis.
Technology access — With shelter-in-place orders, knowledge workers and schools were forced to telework. Internet access has proven vital to the functioning of the economy and should be viewed as a utility. The technology sector was able to migrate to remote work quickly. More risk-averse industries suffered and companies whose employees had limited internet access suffered.
Education — We failed our children by not having a mechanism to ensure their education continued through shelter-in-place orders. While many private schools transitioned to on-line learning, public schools did not fare as well — not due to a lack of trying, but due to equity issues such as availability of computers and the difficulty of essential workers to supplement learning.
Industry 4.0 — There has been a trend toward increasing automation in manufacturing. While this has resulted in job losses for years in the manufacturing sector, in an age of social distancing, this has proven to be vital for production.
E-commerce and delivery services — E-commerce platforms like Amazon and delivery services like Uber Eats were developed for consumer convenience. During this crisis, they served as essential services. It has been amazing to see dine-in restaurants transform into delivery and take-out institutions overnight. Grocery delivery services have made it possible for people in vulnerable demographics to get basics without needing to leave their house.
Web Conferencing — One of the stars of the quarantine was web conferencing services like Zoom and Microsoft Teams. Services that were built, to a large extent, to support global outsourcing and remote team collaboration have been redeployed to functions as broad as enabling children to attend school, telemedicine, and even on-line benefit concerts. And novel applications of virtual reality for virtual conferences and remote white-boarding sessions show promise that we can progress even further.
Food security — We are starting to see an impact on slaughterhouses and farm harvests, but the general availability of food was not overly impacted. As the crisis drags on, this might not remain the case.
Infrastructure — Airports, rail corridors, and civic infrastructure have benefited from a scarcity of use since mid-March. Had this happened in more adverse weather conditions, it would have been difficult to repair infrastructure while also keeping workers safe.
Distribution/Logistics — We are seeing farmers throwing away tons of crops in a time when grocery store baking aisles are empty. We have not seen a lack of food, rather that it is not packaged for the new patterns of consumption. Likewise, our logistics systems have stood up well, but we have been acutely aware of their criticality.
Capabilities to Leverage
The Pacific Northwest region fared well following the Cold War and in the post-9/11 world. It was during this time that Microsoft took off, Amazon was born, Vancouver boomed, etc. The region became global leaders in cloud computing, artificial intelligence, immersive technology, cyber-security, enterprise technology, biotech, unmanned systems, agriculture technology, global health, and additive manufacturing. These capabilities form the core of what is needed for the emerging economy. Cloud computing and immersive technology are coming together to allow greater remote work and telemedicine. Robotic process automation and enterprise technology applied to agriculture and logistics are critical to building redundancy and resilience in the global economy.
Innovation is critical to business resilience. Companies that have embraced technological innovation have fared the best during the crisis. This is particularly notable by the resilience in the stock price of technology companies like Amazon and Microsoft. They continue to operate with little to no impact on productivity.
Remote work: A remote workforce is needed for business resilience. Companies that have a culture of flexible work agreement have fared well during this crisis.
AgTech: We need to identify ways to connect the knowledge economies along the coast with agriculture and logistics needs inland and throughout the region. Autonomy technology is vital in agriculture and logistics for food security.
To build the next global economy in the PNW, we need to bring industry and government across the region to work in tandem. In much the way that the moonshot challenged industry to build the core technology that led to the internet cell phones, and a global satellite network that allowed many of us to work from home the past two months, the challenge of pandemic resilience should be viewed as an opportunity to challenge this generation to invent, build, and commercialize technology that will be the basis of tomorrow. Elements of this are already happening. We recommend the several initiatives to ensure that the Pacific Northwest emerges from this crisis stronger than we entered it.
Cross-Sector Industry/Government Collaboration: Public-Private Partnerships that develop common repositories for policies, procedures, and training related to health security, but that also identify gaps vulnerabilities and emergent threats.
Governments should focus on the identification of risks to health, security, and economy and they should challenge industry to address these risks. Some examples of these challenge-based investments in emerging industries could include:
Together we will build a stronger region, but we need to do this smartly!
This article is a submission by PNWER contributor, Jan Greylorn, and does not necessarily reflect the views of PNWER. This a submission to the Harvard Kennedy School Belfer Center Applied History Project
In November, we will have an election.
Covid-19 will be an issue.
We may be in a harsh "second wave" as happened with the 1918 Influenza.
We may see Covid-19 decline and the glimmer of a vaccine.
Regardless, the economy will be different.
Change will accelerate.
Each candidate will have to deal with our experience, real costs (lives and treasure), problematic preparation and execution, and the risks of the "next one".
A candidate may choose to ignore the painful experience.
To a certain extent, we did that after 1918I[i].
Or they may release thick position papers and promise to do better with what we have.
Or a candidate may understand his base and look to Applied History for real measures that will resonate with voters and do the necessary hard things.
Covid-19 is the most serious attack on the United States in our collective lifetimes.
To date, the virus has killed 100,000+ of our citizens and cost over $4,000,000,000,000 (4 trillion dollars). More death and economic damage will certainly follow.
The US Covid-19 response was fragmented, leading to a shutdown which led to an economic crisis and the worst unemployment since the 1929 depression. Social unrest is already evident. Political and national security upheavals may follow.
We now know the very real Pandemic risks and consequences.
We were warned[ii]. In 2015[iii]Bill Gates laid out four things we need to meet the threat of pandemics: surveillance & data, personnel, treatments, and equipment. He said the failure to prepare would lead to increased death and cost. He was right.
Gates urged the development of a medical reserve corps, joint medical and military efforts, germ-focused war games, and stepped-up medical research. Covid-19 is what he called the “next one” after the well-studied 1918 Influenza pandemic. The one after Covid-19 could be even worse. Globalization and mass air travel have turned weeks or months of warning into days
Applied historical analysis[iv] tells us that we will need a unified response, an integrated system of planning, preparation, and execution.
In 1946, memories of the Nazi blitz, Pearl Harbor, Hiroshima, and the frightening power of massive aerial attacks were the basis for the creation of the Strategic Air Command (SAC)[v]. SAC’s mission was to deter and counter threats with effective reconnaissance, intelligence, planning, resources, and operations. SAC had money, people, material resources, R&D, plans, coordination, and war game verification. SAC also had a SIOP, a Single, Integrated Operations Plan[vi]. We need something similar now – a Strategic Pandemic Command (SPC) with a single, integrated operations plan for Pandemics (PSIOP). Its mission would be to defend the country against biological threats and to plan for post-threat recovery.
SPC would monitor all points of entry for biological threats. SPC would protect key interior assets like the health care system, economic nodes, senior citizen life care facilities, and supply chains.
It would muster necessary resources including dedicated operational bases, communications equipment, and strategic stockpiles for its partners in city, county, state, and regional jurisdictions. It would refresh and update strategic stockpiles as they age. It would use and support US vendors with periodic purchasing through the domestic supply chain, monitor how that chain integrates globally. and test the chain’s capacity to meet surges.
The SPC would use global reconnaissance to detect threats. International cooperation would be important. A “trust but verify” process would include the support of nations and international entities with converging interests.
The SPC would coordinate research and development for threat detection, defense, mitigation, treatment, and other needs. It would also conduct its own research and supply grants to other organizations, including foreign allies.
The SPC would coordinate with both public and private entities across the health and education sectors. It would provide those entities with federal resources and templates for action.
Finally, the SPC would use war games to test operational responsiveness under normal, partial, and full-scale deployments of its resources. It could also use standard events, like the annual flu season, to test its responsiveness. Lessons learned from these simulations would strengthen SPC’s preparedness and pave the way for effective post-threat recovery.
The Strategic Air Command’s SIOP was both detailed and flexible. Roles and responsibilities were clear. It evolved and changed over time as threats and capabilities mutated. The Strategic Pandemic Command and its PSIOP should have all that and more.
The next pandemic, natural or man made, could be far, far worse. No plan is perfect, but a plan and an effective planning process and execution beat hope and luck.
We can and must do better.
A Strategic Pandemic Command with an integrated plan modeled on SAC which protected us for a half century is a path to a better way.
Mr. Jan Greylorn
BA Biomedical History, UW
BA History, Military History UW
20+ years Corporate Planning and Operations Research
(Eddie Bauer, Nordstrom, T Mobile, Washington State, Cities, Counties, Military Associations ….)
Click here for source and resource material
Applied Historians begin with a current choice or predicament and analyze the historical record to provide perspective, stimulate imagination, find clues about what is likely to happen, suggest possible interventions, and assess probable consequences.
In the author’s humble opinion, Applied History
Sponsor Highlight: Population Health and the University of Washington's Contributions to the Fight against COVID-19
This article is a submission by PNWER sponsor, University of Washington, and does not necessarily reflect the views of PNWER.
When the University of Washington launched the Population Health Initiative nearly four years ago, it was necessary to explain the importance of studying the intersecting and overlapping factors that influence health and well-being both here and around the world. The Initiative’s cross-disciplinary approach to problem-solving was unusual in a university setting, encouraging researchers to collaborate on projects across traditional departmental boundaries. Today, the relevance of this work could not be more obvious.
The COVID-19 pandemic has shined a spotlight on how profoundly important scientific expertise and data are for helping policymakers, business leaders and citizens understand both the scale of the pandemic and the response necessary to address it. From developing treatments and caring for patients to researching the virus and combating misinformation, UW faculty, staff and students are playing an integral role in the global response to COVID-19.
Outstanding work is happening across our university to attack the problem from every angle. Our medical system staff are on the front lines providing extraordinary care to our community. UW researchers have sequenced COVID-19’s genome, identified the architecture and mechanisms of COVID-19, created a new laboratory test to expedite diagnostics, are testing potential treatments, built models to forecast the outbreak’s severity, and are crowd-sourcing a cure. Others are working to slow the viral spread of misinformation about COVID-19, 3D print face shields for hospital staff, locate and donate personal protective equipment, help monitor and understand the emotional impacts of self-isolation and provide resources to families whose kids are suddenly home 24/7. Public health experts are consulting with local governments and businesses about how to safely reopen when the time comes. Faculty and students are showing boundless creativity and compassion as they transition to online learning. Virology researchers are developing and processing antibody tests, computer science experts are developing a contact-tracing app. And the list goes on.
The University of Washington and UW Medicine are proud to serve our community and State as we take on COVID-19. This work would not be possible without support from the state of Washington, the federal government and the private contributions of so many generous individuals.
It is important to note that by its very definition, population health reminds us that the efforts of UW Medicine and the University of Washington are not in isolation – our work is interconnected with the herculean efforts of leaders in every sector of our economy and community. Daily, we are seeing the bravery of frontline essential workers, the tireless advocacy of community leaders and the sacrifice of those who are keeping their businesses closed and staying home. Thank you for all that you are doing personally and professionally to continue to reduce the spread and burden of COVID-19.
In our region, the curve may be flattening, but we are still a long way from the finish line. From improving testing availability and contact tracing capacity, continued therapeutic and vaccine research, and understanding the safest and most equitable ways to reopen the economy, there is still much more work to be done to beat this disease. The University of Washington will continue to serve the community and State as we weather COVID-19 and beyond. By standing together – while physically apart – our communities will defeat this virus and recover from its devastating effects.
After the devastating flood of 1948 near the City of Vanport, the U.S. and Canada partnered to create the Columbia River Treaty (CRT). This Treaty is a joint agreement concerning the development, regulation, and management of the Columbia River to coordinate flood control and maximize hydropower energy production.
The Columbia River Treaty has a minimum length of 60 years that will be met on September 16, 2024, with no specified expiration date. With ten year’s notice, the U.S., Canada, or both may decide to terminate the Treaty. If neither country gives notice of termination, the countries may decide to renegotiate or consider improvements by mutual agreement at any time during the life of the CRT. With no termination, the Treaty will continue indefinitely, except for the Annual Assured Flood Control which expires in 2024. When enacted, the U.S. paid $64.4 million for the operation of the Assured Annual Flood Control through 2024 to be replaced by Called Upon Flood Control to be paid per call.
What happens after 2024?
The Treaty continues indefinitely; however, in 2024, the coordinated flood risk management provision changes to a less-defined approach. In 2024, the Assured Annual Flood Control will be replaced with Called Upon Flood Control. This on-call use of Canada’s reservoirs can only be utilized once the U.S. has made effective use of their own reservoir storage, and Canada must be compensated for the operational and economic cost of each flood control call.
Currently, under the Treaty, U.S. and Canadian entities coordinate to maintain and adjust reservoir levels as needed and to maximize the power generated.
Under the Columbia River Treaty, the U.S. pre-paid Canada for Assured Annual Flood Control until 2024, which denotes that Canada will reserve 8.45 million acre-feet of assured annual water draft at all three of their CRT reservoirs. Under Called Upon Flood Control, Canada is not required to reserve any water draft.
The U.S. and Canada have different perspectives on how the called upon operation for coordinated flood risk management should be implemented after 2024. According to the U.S., the flood control can be called upon once river flows exceed 450,000 cubic feet per second (cfs) measured at The Dalles Dam and only eight storage reservoirs in the U.S. need to be effectively used before the U.S. can call Canada for flood control. From the Canadian perspective, the U.S. can request on call flood control once The Dalles dam exceeds 600,000 cfs and has effectively used all possible storage in the Basin. This ambiguous interpretation of the Called Upon Flood Control will cause implications for quick and efficient flood control.
What happens if the treaty is terminated?
Negotiations for the Columbia River Treaty began in May of 2018. Since then seven more meetings have taken place with the most recent being in September of 2019.
Researched and written by Miranda Harris Hamlin, PNWER Policy Intern. Miranda is currently a senior at Seattle University studying Economics.
PNWER Visits the Capitals: 2020 Meetings in Olympia, Juneau, & Boise Address USMCA, Invasive Species, Transportation, Ag, & More
PNWER kicked off the decade with visits to several of our jurisdictions' capitals last month. PNWER traveled to Olympia, WA, first before heading to Juneau, AK, and Boise, ID. PNWER will visit the capitals of our other jurisdictions, Ottawa, and Washington, D.C. in the coming months. These annual capital visits allow PNWER delegates and stakeholders to meet with key government, legislative, and private sector leaders to discuss issues important to our region.
PNWER in Olympia