“Embracing Transformation” was the title of the 2022 Washington Chamber of Commerce Executive Conference held in Tacoma last week. WR’s Mark Johnson, Senior Vice President of Policy and Government Affairs, and Rose Gundersen, Vice President of Operations, both presented during the WR-sponsored Friday morning breakfast.
Johnson discussed legislation and efforts to increase public safety and thwart retail theft and organized retail crime. Over $2.7 billion is stolen annually from Washington merchants, according to the Retail Industry Leaders Association.
Many of these retail crimes are becoming increasingly dangerous—even lethal. Employees and customers are endangered, as well as the thieves themselves. Law enforcement is often underfunded and often lacks the tools needed to do their jobs. Additionally, they aren’t supported by existing laws, such as restricting their ability to pursue suspects reasonably. Johnson said a “multi-pronged” approach was needed to reverse the trend. No one strategy will solve the problem. Instead, an array of tactics should be deployed, including state funding for a statewide ORC Task Force.
Gundersen discussed promoting retail workforce training and how the work aligns with WR’s justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion (JEDI) principles. She pointed to the success of House Bill 2019, passed during the 2022 Session, which requires coordination of work to build the infrastructure of Washington state-based retail careers and workforce education. Also highlighted was our partnership with the NRF Foundation RISE Up program developed by retailers. RISE Up’s four certifications are ideal for students, entry-level and second-chance job seekers to further their confidence and upward mobility. These certifications offer trainees skill training and certification at a reasonable price in person, online, or hybrid.
The conference was well attended by chamber executives from around the state, including 0Bellingham, Vancouver, Clarkston, and the Tri-cities.
WR has long been a partner with our local chambers of commerce, who genuinely have the heartbeat of main street America in their best interests.