Business roundtable discusses need for political consensus, less partisanship

Feb 20, 2019
Written by Renée Sunde, President & CEO

Earlier this week, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, in cooperation with the Tacoma Pierce County Chamber, hosted U.S. Representative Derek Kilmer (D-Bremerton). Kilmer, who represents the 6th U.S. legislative district, moderated a panel discussion with roughly 15 business leaders including myself.

The roundtable provided an opportunity to hear the Congressman’s top priorities and discuss key issues impacting the business community such as workforce, immigration, transportation infrastructure, and trade. Each of these is very important to retailers.

Kilmer talked about the disruption and challenges facing many industries and gave great examples from retail. Video, bookstore and camera retailers have virtually vanished as a result of advances in technology and changing consumer demand.

Where there is prosperity in Washington, it isn’t being felt equally across the state. Low unemployment in Seattle contrasts with much higher jobless rates in rural parts of the state.

The overriding theme of the meeting was that the challenges facing the business community and the future of our economy won’t be solved in a politically toxic environment.

As state associations, business leaders and elected officials, we need to rebuild the political center to achieve solutions for the issues we face. Here in Olympia, the Association is reaching out to leaders in both parties in crafting legislation during the 2019 Legislative Session. We know that solutions to lingering issues grow from dialogue and compromise, not rigid partisanship and stagnation.

Kilmer and his colleagues face other challenging issues as well but are mired in a toxic partisan environment that struggles for compromise. Finding workable solutions for immigration, transportation, healthcare and solving the current debate over tariffs that have ignited a trade war with China will remain as key issues. Retailers need solutions to all of these challenges to survive and prosper.

Washington Retail is focused on solutions. We pledge to work with Republicans and Democrats alike as the issues we face are too important to settle for business as usual.