Conference focuses on how retail must change
By Renée Sunde, President/CEO
Overbuilding, recession, e-commerce, the experience economy and of course the ever-changing consumer are all factors that have come together to demand change in the retail industry. These changes are helping to define new approaches to create or bring existing retail environments to their full potential.
This week I joined approximately 38,000 retail and real estate professionals who converged on Las Vegas for three days of industry education and deal-making. This is now my eighth year attending ICSC RECON and through the years my lens has continued to evolve based on my relationship with the industry.
Rather than a focus on marketing the South Sound region through targeted meetings with developers, investors, and retailers, RECON 2018 has offered the chance to hear from global and national industry leaders. Some of the nation’s top retail experts are on hand discussing how the industry is evolving and changing and what the future may hold.
As I listen to retail analysts and industry futurists, I can’t help but think about the future of retail in Washington State. How do we position ourselves at the forefront of innovation and industry creativity? How can we effectively advocate for Washington retailers to strengthen our urban regions and suburban and rural communities?
During Tuesday’s Keynote luncheon, ICSC Incoming President Valerie Richardson, Container Store VP, broke it down this way: “In order to thrive in uncertainty, retail must be relevant, reimagined, redesigned and reinvigorated,” she said. “Retail has always faced disruption. Understanding the opportunities for a future that is stable, sustainable and profitable will be the key.”
We have much work to do as we face the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. The fact remains, the retail industry is strong with 4.5 percent anticipated growth in the coming year. The overall tone this year is both realistic yet optimistic. It’s challenging me to think outside the box as we position the association to engage and respond as the industry evolves in the coming years.
Backlash grows regarding Seattle’s business head tax
Opposition to the Seattle business head tax that built up before the City Council approved it last week has only been growing since then.
The controversial tax has been a popular topic of discussion around the state and nation. If it stands, the tax would impose a $250 per employee tax on companies doing more than $20 million in annual sales, starting in January. The City Council said it plans to use the revenue to address homelessness in Seattle.
In recent days, the tax has prompted a referendum campaign to overturn it and a proposal in Pierce County to capitalize upon it with a $250 per employee tax incentive to companies willing to pay employees more than $65,000 a year.
Much of this controversy has been reflected in traditional media coverage and on social media.
The online news site geekwire reported on Pierce County’s attempt to gain a competitive advantage recruiting companies with a tax incentive plan. Seattle architect Christopher Kirk wrote a Seattle Times opinion piece calling the council unresponsive to the public and dysfunctional. And, a state legislator said he would introduce a bill next year to render the tax illegal if it hasn’t already been thrown out by then.
WRA endorses government transparency initiative
Washington Retail Association has endorsed Yes on I-1608, which would make all public employee contract bargaining sessions and agreements open for public inspection. Though most states maintain open bargaining with unions, Washington does not.
WRA supports the initiative primarily for two reasons.
It would result in better utilizing scarce tax dollars and prevent the need for future tax increases that threaten trade and the economy. It also could result in further government accountability including allowing workers the right to choose whether to join and financially support their professions’ unions. This includes ending the practice of unions making political contributions without consulting dues-paying members.
The campaign also has earned the support of Bellevue retailer and developer Kemper Freeman; the Association of Builders and Contractors; Association of Washington Business; Washington State Farm Bureau and the National Electrical Contractors Association. Supporters must submit signatures of some 260,000 registered voters by July 5 to qualify the initiative for the fall ballot.
WRA attends WPC Policy Summit
By Mark Johnson, Senior Vice President of Government Affairs
I had the pleasure of attending the Washington Policy Center’s Solutions Summit in Bellevue earlier this week. WRA was a co-presenter of the event. The conference was attended by several hundred decision makers, business owners and concerned citizens.
The topics covered included:
Government Reform – presented by Senator Guy Palumbo (D) – a former senior manager at Amazon and current small business owner; Representative Drew Stokesbary (R) House Republican Floor Leader and attorney; and Chris Rufo, plaintiff in the lawsuit against Seattle’s income tax.
Education and Charter Schools – presented by Corey DeAngelis, Policy Analyst at the Cato Center for Educational Freedom.
Environment – presented by John Bernard, author, strategist and advisor to multiple governors and Todd Myers, Director of WPC’s Center for the Environment.
Labor Reform – presented by Mark Janus, lead plaintiff in the
Janus vs AFSCME U.S. Supreme Court case on the issue of mandatory state employee union membership and Erin Shannon, Director of the WPC’s Worker’s Rights Center.
Our luncheon keynote speaker was Stephen Hayes, editor-in-chief of The Weekly Standard who talked about our Congress and President.
It was a great conference focused on finding solutions to the challenges our state and nation face.
WRA at Senator Fain’s re-election kick off
Tammie Hetrick, WRA’s Chief Operating Officer, had the honor of attending the kick off to Sen. Joe Fain’s re-election campaign at the Showare Center in Kent.
An estimated 600 bi-partisan supporters attended the event on Tuesday. Fain, R-Auburn, has served as the Majority Floor Leader in the state Senate and serves on four committees including vice chair of the Early Learning & K-12 Education committee.
In his speech, Fain complimented Hetrick and three other business attendees for their collaboration on Paid Family and Medical Leave legislation that has been passed into law. He praised the hard work of business and labor to come to an agreement most could support.
Fain is serving his third term in the Legislature. Mona Das, a Democrat from Covington, has filed to run against Fain in the November election. WRA will be announcing endorsements before the Aug. 7 primary election.
Safety tip of the week
Try to match workspaces to individual needs
Ideally, a workspace should match the distinct needs of individual employees. Consider how you perform your daily work:
*Are you right or left handed? This will determine where to put the phone and where space will be allocated for writing.
*Frequently used items should be within easy reach (arm’s length). Plants and pictures can be farther away and out of the space that you use most.
*Monitors should be high enough so that your eyes are at the same level as the top of the monitor and as far away as you can comfortably view it.
*A great option may be an adjustable desk that will allow you to sit part of the day and stand the other.
Here is a link to a great interactive presentation on workstation layout. It is important to work with each individual to find what works best for them. Some ergonomic videos are available at RASI SAFETY TV.
Companies should be proactive with employees to learn if they have special needs or preferences at their workspace. The more ergonomically comfortable, the less likely that injuries could result.
Rick Means, WRA’s Safety Specialist, is available to members to help draw up safety plans and suggest topics for safety meetings. Contact him at 360-943-9198 x18, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Workplace injuries cost companies $1 billion a week: report
Liberty Mutual Insurance reports that serious work-related injuries and illnesses cost U.S. employers more than $1 billion a week in 2015.
The statistic measuring medical and lost-wage costs is part of Liberty Mutual’s Workplace Safety Index, which ranks the most common causes for workplace injuries. The report includes data from Liberty Mutual, the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the National Academy of Social Insurance.
For the fourth consecutive year, overexertion was the leading cause of disabling injuries followed by falls and being struck by an object or equipment. Liberty Mutual releases the data to help employers better understand the cause of workplace injuries in hopes of reducing their frequency.
Click here to read more and review the entire injury index.
Source: Safety and Health magazine
Thurston County businesses are invited to attend the free Elevate Olympia small business conference on June 11 and 12. The events are courtesy of the Olympia Downtown Alliance
and the City of Olympia.
Three conference tracks will help businesses learn several skills including marketing, resources available to address downtown challenges and business management. Events will be held at thee locations.
Tammie Hetrick, WRA’s Chief Operating Officer, is scheduled to speak on effective employee management at 8 a.m. on June 12 at Water Street Café, 610 Water Street.
Click here to register and learn more.
WRA diversity statement
It’s essential to have a holistic strategic plan for diversity and inclusion. We encourage everyone to consider having a plan that connects with diverse people; creates a diverse workforce; fosters an inclusive work environment where different perspectives are valued; partners to share time, talent, and resources with our staff and with communities; and communicates these values with others.
In principle and in practice, we value access to leadership opportunity regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, religion, age, sexual orientation, nationality, disability, appearance, geographic location, or professional level. The association strives to accomplish this by serving as a model where we are working to help our staff, our volunteer leaders, our members, and our community embrace these principles.