Business

Credit ratings
3:56 pm
Mon August 8, 2011

Update: S&P lowers Tacoma's rating on debt backed by fed

Soon after downgrading the credit rating of the United States, Standard & Poor’s has taken the city of Tacoma’s rating down a notch from AAA to AA+ on debt it has issued that is backed by the federal government, according to a report in the Puget Sound Business Journal.

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Agriculture
1:41 pm
Mon August 8, 2011

New Wash. corn plant made to influence global crop

A new agricultural plant near Othello in Eastern Washington is breeding highly specialized corn for the huge world-wide seed company Monsanto. The laboratories and growing facilities are slated to help the company more quickly distil the genetics of corn to get top characteristics to market.

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Home Foreclosures
6:05 pm
Fri August 5, 2011

Home listings fall in Seattle but worry remains

A decline in the number of homes for sale in the area has raised hopes the market is improving or at least stabilizing, but some analysts say it's actually proof of a bank foreclosure bottleneck.

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Earnings report
11:09 am
Fri August 5, 2011

Wealthy shoppers boost Blue Nile, but earnings less than dazzling

Even as the stock market takes stomach turning plunges this week, it’s still good to be a luxury item retailer.

Seattle’s online diamond jeweler, Blue Nile, put out its second quarter earnings report on Thursday. And though the numbers aren’t dazzling, they’re still on the rise.

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International trade
9:56 am
Thu August 4, 2011

Northwest highways await Mexican trucks

While Northwest farmers will benefit from the lifting of a tariff, the agreement between the United States and Mexico allowing Mexican trucks on U.S. roads has some worried.
cobalt123 Flikr

The next time you head down the interstate, that truck in the lane next to you could be from Mexico. That's because of a recent cross-border trucking accord between the United States and Mexico.

Opponents say putting Mexican trucks on U.S. roads is risky. But there's little evidence to show that Mexican trucks are actually a hazard on the highway.

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Business
2:35 pm
Wed August 3, 2011

Farmer: Without illegal immigrants, strawberry farms fail

Per Ola Wiberg Flikr

A crackdown on illegal immigrants would put local strawberry farmers out of business.

That’s what one leading farmer in Skagit County told the Bellingham Herald

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Alaskan Way Viaduct
5:30 pm
Mon August 1, 2011

Anti-tunnel rally in Seattle tries to build opposition to referendum

The protestors carried a 25-foot replica of what they said represented the “monster tunnel that eats money.”
Bellamy Pailthorp KPLU

At a rally in downtown Seattle late this afternoon roughly 60 protesters marched on city hall to show their opposition to the waterfront tunnel scheduled to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct. The protestors carried a 25-foot replica of what they said represented the “monster tunnel that eats money.”

A smaller group of tunnel supporters also showed up with props to argue that killing the tunnel would cause too much congestion.

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Hanford Nuclear Reservation
4:57 pm
Mon August 1, 2011

Hanford layoffs not based just on seniority

RICHLAND, Wash. – Seniority won't be the only factor for determining layoffs at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in southeast Washington. Pink slips are expected in six weeks by several Hanford contractors because federal stimulus money is tapering off.

CH2MHill and Mission Support Alliance are the federal contractors planning on the 1,600 lay-offs. The companies say union employees will lose their jobs based on seniority: those with the least experience going first.

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Unemployment
10:51 am
Mon August 1, 2011

Washington still issues unemployment benefits the old fashioned way

OLYMPIA, Wash. – In this era of plastic, Washington still issues unemployment benefits the old fashioned way: by check. That's a stark contrast to neighboring Oregon where jobless benefits are loaded on a debit card. So what are the trade-offs?

Currently in Washington about 180,000 people are receiving unemployment. Half of them are signed up for direct deposit.

The rest get a check in the mail. It costs the state 45 cents to issue each check – most of that is postage.

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Business
10:08 am
Mon August 1, 2011

Standoff puts some airport construction projects in limbo

Spokane International Airport viewed from the south. The Airport is in the midst of a major runway reconstruction project.
Liesl Matthies

The Congressional stalemate over the debt ceiling isn't the only Washington standoff in the news this week. A separate showdown over spending by the Federal Aviation Administration is having an immediate effect on jobs and airport construction in our region.

Since last week, this little noticed budget battle has shut down non-essential divisions of the FAA. Airline ticket taxes are going uncollected and the federal workers who drive that money back out for airport improvement projects are furloughed.

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Business
9:31 am
Mon August 1, 2011

Northwest apricots, peaches, nectarines slow to ripen

John Douglas shows off a peach from one of his family's fruit ranches near Basin City, Wash.
Anna King Northwest News Network

BASIN CITY, Wash. – Peaches, nectarines and apricots are some of the iconic delights of summer. But this year, Northwest apricots are at about half the usual production according to the Washington Fruit Commission. Peaches and nectarines are down too, about 10 percent. And they're all late.

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Worker retraining
5:30 am
Mon August 1, 2011

Tacoma workers laid off in 'Nalley Valley' getting federal help

A spread of Nalley's top products for a 1949 advertising campaign. Workers at the former Bird's Eye canning factory are getting federal help for retraining.
Richards Studio, Tacoma via Tacoma Public Library Archives

More than two-hundred workers who lost their jobs when the "Nalley Valley" canning plant in Tacoma closed last month are now eligible for special retraining through the federal Trade Adjustment Assistance Program.

The newly unemployed, consider it a victory.

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Jobless benefits
6:00 am
Fri July 29, 2011

State nabbing innocent job seekers in unempoyment crackdown?

Creating and maintaining the proper paperwork while collecting unemployment can sometimes be harder than it seems. Nevertheless, some innocent job seekers say they've been caught up in the state's unemployment crackdown.
Solo Flickr

Recently, Washington's Employment Security Department sent out a news release announcing it had identified 9,000 people in 2010 who were not actively seeking work. The state said the individuals would have to pay back $23 million in benefits.

But those claims of jobless benefit fraud may be overstated.

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Hanford Nuclear Reservation
2:22 pm
Thu July 28, 2011

Read the entire Bechtel and URS letter to employees

A message from Frank Russo, WTP Project Director, and Bill Gay, WTP Deputy Project Director

Fellow WTP employees,

Over the past several weeks, there have been reports about the Department of Energy's (DOE's) Hanford Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant (WTP) Project that question our project’s safety culture and resolution of technical design issues, and that suggest cost and schedule objectives are favored over technical risk and safety. Nothing could be further from the truth. 

 SAFETY

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Hanford Nuclear Reservation
2:19 pm
Thu July 28, 2011

Hanford contractors work to reassure workers about safety

RICHLAND, Wash. – The heads of two Hanford Nuclear Reservation contractors tried to reassure workers with a memo this week. It says there is a strong safety culture on the massive waste treatment plant now under construction. The memo comes after several workers have come forward with concerns about the plant.

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