Walla Walla Trends e-Newsletter

#3 - 2016

SPOKANE COMMUNITY INDICATORS TURNS 10

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You might say Eastern Washington University's Community Indicators Initiative is always trending. Co-developed with several local organizations and now managed by the university's Institute for Public Policy and Economic Analysis, the initiative serves a variety of public and private interests that rely on the data from a variety of federal and state sources.

Last month, the community indicators initiative turned 10 years old. For Patrick Jones, the executive director of the Institute who has subsequently helped create several more trends website, the anniversary is a proud milestone. "I enjoy them all, in part because all the communities in which we work have committed, talented people whom I've gotten to know," says Jones. "But Spokane was the first."

The vision for each project is first to inform, and second to help "move the needle" to create a healthy, vibrant community. The local data, chosen by community representatives, are available for several areas including: culture and recreation, demographics, economic vitality, education, the environment, health, housing and transportation and public safety.

Similar projects managed by the…

VOTER TURNOUT PEAKS AGAIN IN 2016

I Voted Flag

One thing most politicians agree on is the importance of expressing our most fundamental American freedoms - the freedom of voting. Presidential elections historically produce the highest voter turnout even though many important initiatives on the local, county, and state occur during mid-term and off-term election cycles.

The voter turnout like in Walla Walla County? For the 2016 Presidential election, the 62 voting precincts in Walla Walla County had 33,538 registered voters with 26,660, or 79.49% of registered voters casting their ballot. In comparison to the 2012 Presidential election, there were 31,844 registered voters in Walla Walla County with 25,612, or 80.43% of registered voters casting their ballot.

This data received its most recent and final update by the Washington State Secretary of State on November 30, 2016. This new data is also reflected in indicator 0.4.2 Share of Registered Voters Voting in November Elections.

NEWS FROM THE PORT

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Dam Removal Would Breach NW Economy: The Importance for Northwest Wheat and Forest Products is Invaluable to the Region -

There is an intense public conversation regarding the importance of the Snake River dams, and the Columbia River dams for that matter. Currently, the dams provide such an enormous benefit for the Pacific Northwest economy that it's hard to imagine the economic vitality of our region without them.

Why is this so important to our region? First, we must understand facts about the Columbia and Snake River systems.

The inland navigation channel is 360 miles long and 14 feet deep from Portland, Ore., to Lewiston, Idaho. More than 9 million tons of commercial cargo was transported on the waters in 2012.

The importance for Northwest wheat and forest products is invaluable to the region. Of U.S. wheat exports in 2015, more than 49 percent used Columbia-Snake system.

Barges can carry more freight and are the most efficient mode of transportation. Imagine the number of trucks that would be on our highways if the dams were breeched and the navigation ability was no longer available. For each tow - four barges - no longer available, 538 more trucks would be on the road hauling wheat to Portland. That would produce more carbon emissions, more traffic, more wear and tear on highway pavement and move products in a much less efficient manner.

In addition to the navigation benefits, there are other economically supported results from the navigation system. Consider the various sporting opportunities provided by the system, as well as the clean, renewable energy generated by dams and distributed to the entire West Coast?

The Port of Walla Walla firmly supports the Columbia-Snake system and would oppose any effort to remove the dams, which would significantly damage the Pacific Northwest economy and especially our in the Walla Walla Valley. We support the continued efforts of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in maintaining and operating this critical public infrastructure.

In accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act, the Corps, the federal Bureau of Reclamation and the Bonneville Power Administration are currently preparing a new environmental impact statement on the river system and configurations for 14 federal projects in the interior Columbia Basin.

In this EIS, the three agencies will present a reasonable range of alternatives for long-term system operations and evaluate the potential environmental and socioeconomic impacts on flood risk management, irrigation, power generation, navigation, fish and wildlife, cultural resources and recreation.

During their ongoing public scoping period, which continues to Jan. 17, anyone who is interested in helping the agencies identify issues and concerns that could be analyzed in the EIS, can make comments online at crso.info.

The river system is a vital transportation link to the West Coast and the world for Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington. The economies of these four states, the communities along the waterways and the industries that use the system all rely on the trade and commerce that flows up and down this most important commercial waterway of the Pacific Northwest.

Attached as a link is the website to comment on the Columbia River System Operations. http://crso.info/. Comments received during the public scoping period (September 30, 2016-January 17, 2017) provides anyone who is interested an opportunity to help the agencies identify issues and concerns that could be analyzed in the EIS.

Preserving and properly maintaining the dams is critical to the economic success and existence of the Pacific Northwest and the Walla Walla Valley economy.

WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE - INTERACTIVE MAPPING TOOLS

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Have you ever wondered about fish populations, habitats, and hatcheries? Or perhaps barriers in streams and rivers to fish, perhaps the density of marine birds on the Washington coastline, or places in Washington State for hunters and outdoor enthusiasts? If so, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) interactive maps website will keep you busy, entertained, and informed. Click here to visit the WDFW interactive mapping website.

MEDIAN AGE HIGHER THAN STATE AND NATION -

0.1.2 Graph
 

Some say age is a "State of Mind", but it also seems like the younger someone is, the older then tend to want to be. Take, for example, how many toddlers fight a nap when many adults, including myself, would probably enjoy and benefit from taking one on a regular basis.

By definition, the median age of a population is the number that divides the population into two halves, meaning that 50% of the population is older than the median age and 50% of the population is younger.

EDUCATIONAL ATTAINMENT VARIES BY LEVEL COMPARED TO BENCHMARKS -

2.3.2 graph
 

This indicator, like the median age indicator featured in this newsletter, also comes from the U.S. Census American Community Survey (ACS). It actually reflects Walla Walla and Columbia Counties combined and only has a span of three-years (2013-2015), since 2013 is when the new metropolitan statistical area (MSA) was recognized. The explanation provided in Median Age Higher than State and Nation article directly applies to the indicators in this article, as well as for all of the ACS sourced indicators on the trends site.

PRIVATE EMPLOYERS STILL MAJORITY, BUT SUBSTANTIALLY LESS THAN BENCHMARKS -

1.3.4 graph

Walla Walla & Columbia Counties have shown a pretty steady trend as to what entities are employing individuals throughout the two counties. Yet, this trend highlights some unique characteristics that contrast with other Eastern Washington counties and the State as a whole. One of the biggest differences that the Walla Walla MSA (metro statistical area defined as Walla Walla and Columbia counties) reveals is a strong presence of people who are employed by government. At roughly 22% of those employed…

GREATER SHARE OF FIRMS WITH 0-9 EMPLOYEES THAN STATE -

1.2.6 graph
 

In 2015 Walla Walla County had a total of 2,194 non-sole proprietorship firms and of this 1,837, or about 84%, of those establishments had less than ten employees. While small businesses represent a great majority of establishments and can be the driving force of economic development in an economy, they only account for 16% of the total jobs in the county. While looking at the other end of the spectrum, there are only 8 firms in the county that employ over 500 but they comprise nearly a third of the entire…