Editorial: Greater Grays Harbor Inc. supports “Yes” vote for Public Hospital District #2

If Grays Harbor Community Hospital does not become a public hospital, our economic health will be in jeopardy. That is why the board of Greater Grays Harbor, Inc. has voted to support the formation of Grays Harbor Public Hospital District #2.

Community Hospital has struggled the past few years to balance its budget, and the primary reason it has been unable to do so is because of its “payer mix.” Today, about 80 percent of its patients rely on Medicaid or Medicare to pay for their healthcare. Unfortunately the government does not pay enough to cover the costs the hospital incurs just caring for those patients. Eight out of ten times when a patient walks in the door, the hospital is losing money just by doing what they are mandated by law to do.

In the times of economic prosperity, most of the hospital’s patients are employed and have health insurance, and they subsidized everybody else – a fact of life still at most hospitals in the U.S. And the hospital has been cutting costs. But there is no fat left to trim. And the hospital cannot expect two patients to carry their own costs and a portion of those of eight others – it is deeply unfair and fundamentally unsustainable. The hospital needs to be paid a fairer price for what it provides to all of its patients.

GHCH, along with three other rural community hospitals in much the same position, asked this fiscal fairness of the state legislature this past session, and the legislature agreed to increase the reimbursements for Medicaid patients to match the higher reimbursement rates of Medicare patients. However, the law mandates that the hospital must be owned and operated by a public entity – a hospital district.

There are benefits to being public besides recouping a greater portion of Medicaid costs. The hospital will be able to run levies to support its operations. Elected hospital commissioners will set the rate, and county commissioners are in charge of approving anything up to $0.50; anything above that to a maximum of $0.75 goes to a public vote. The average public hospital levy is $0.50, which means $4.17 for someone who owns a $100,000 home, a very small price to pay for the service (Aberdeen residents pay $6.69 per month for storm drain maintenance, for example.) Elected officials and levy votes will make GHCH accountable to the people.

Another effect of the levy process is that those patients who are costing the hospital are chipping in to pay for the cost of the services through rent and property taxes, which makes it more equitable. And no one in Grays Harbor can say they don’t use the hospital – you never know when you, or someone you care about, will need their services. It’s not like a store or a bank.

It is also worth dwelling on what will happen if the public district does not come to pass. Unfortunately, that is a murkier view. It is very likely that many of the hospital’s more than 650, mainly family-wage jobs will be lost and services cut. This alone would be devastating to local businesses, and property values would surely plunge as former medical staff move to jobs elsewhere while others are dissuaded from living in an area which does not have a full suite of medical services.

And forget persuading new industry to set up shop here. Few industrial businesses, and no large scale operations, want to open in an area where the only hospital is a critical access facility that stabilizes and ships emergencies to Olympia. Our area’s dependence on Medicaid would continue and possibly grow, further limiting the hospital.

And think about the medical transport by ambulances – it will tie up our cities’ emergency services. They will be responsible for taking emergency cases from here to Olympia – valuable time where they may be needed for emergency calls here, and a valuable chunk of our communities’ budgets.

None of this addresses what it means if, say, the Family Birthing Center closes up shop – a definite possibility. Will you or your family member need to go all the way in Olympia for routine OB care, never mind the birth? The hospital will certainly provide a lot less primary care to patients, and possibly a great deal less surgery. We have doctors who can do all manner of surgeries, from replacing knees and hips to reconstructive surgery, to cancer surgery. The Harbor stands to lose those services if the hospital district isn’t formed.

A levy is truly a small price to pay for stability, economic development, public safety and accountability. And it’s cheaper than the cost of appointments in Olympia, on the cost to the cities of transporting emergency cases to Olympia.

That is why we support the formation of the Gray Harbor Public Hospital District No. 2, and we urge you to vote Yes.


The Board of Greater Grays Harbor, Inc.

Greater Grays Harbor Inc. selects Andre “Dru” Garson as new CEO

Andre “Dru” Garson was offered and has accepted the position of CEO of Greater Grays Harbor, Inc.

In addition to being a Development Specialist with the Alaska Department of Commerce and Community Economic Development in Juneau, Garson has worked with disadvantaged regions of Alaska to develop and establish economic development and tourism programs. Garson has his master’s degree in resource recreation and tourism, and has worked in many regions of Alaska to develop tourism and workforce development with focus on key industry clusters in that state.

According to Board Chair Mike O’Dell, Garson’s qualifications aligned well with the projects that the board has established in their strategic planning for the organization.

“We are excited about the assets Dru will bring to the community, and believe he is well qualified to not only complete community projects that are in process, but also to establish new directions and relationships essential to the success of GGHI,” O’Dell said.

Garson, who is finishing a project for the state of Alaska, will be starting as CEO of GGHI in September, and is looking forward to being here.

“There are a lot of similarities between the economy of Grays Harbor and many communities that I’ve worked with throughout Southeast Alaska,” he said. “I’m excited about moving to Grays Harbor and look forward to meeting and working with the local business community.”

Greater Grays Harbor, Inc. CEO Tim Gibbs resigns

Tim Gibbs, CEO of Greater Grays Harbor, Inc., tendered his resignation to the board at last night’s meeting, citing his need to be closer to his family in Kentucky.

“It has been a great privilege to lead this organization,” Gibbs said. “This is not a choice I made lightly, and I will miss Grays Harbor.”

Gibbs has been CEO of GGHI since it began in January of 2012; before that he was the executive director of the Grays Harbor Economic Development Council, which, along with the Grays Harbor Chamber of Commerce, formed the single organization.

Gibbs leaves GGHI in a position of strength, with growing membership and collaborative partnerships with local governments, businesses and non-profits.

“Tim’s work has set Greater Grays Harbor up for success. He has worked tirelessly, building relationships with so many partners for economic development in our area,” said Larry Kahl, Past Chair of the board and COO at Grays Harbor Community Hospital.

Mike O’Dell, Board Chair, noted that last year the board underwent a strategic planning process, identifying goals for GGHI.

“We know what the challenges are that lie ahead, and we have a plan to meet those challenges,” O’Dell said. “Tim was a steady guide in the days when the merger was new, but now, we’re a mature organization that is equipped to go forward into the future, and that’s in no small part due to his leadership skills these first few years.”

At the meeting, the board formed a search committee to look for Gibbs’ replacement. The board agreed that it will be a nationwide search.

“Tim set a really high bar, and we want to find someone who can lead this organization and all of Grays Harbor,” said Donna Rosi, Vice Chair and General Manager at Grays Harbor Radio.

GGHI events and everyday operations will continue as usual, Kahl emphasized.

“Tim was a great find, and we’ll miss his talent and skills. He helped us move the bar forward, and left us in a better position than we were. He helped us become a better organization, combining a Chamber and and EDC into a financially strong organization with influence in the community ,” said Randy Ross, Vice President and Commercial Loan Officer at Bank of the Pacific, and former Board Chair. “Although we are saddened by his departure, we know it’s the right thing for him. We’ve learned a lot from him. Now it’s time to move into the next chapter, and we will find someone who can move us to the next level.”

Greater Grays Harbor Inc. Board awards $2,500 to Aberdeen Business Week

Greater Grays Harbor, Inc. is pleased to announce that the board has elected to grant $2,500 to Aberdeen High School’s In-School Business Week.

The money comes from GGHI’s Educational Fund, and will mean approximately 220 high school juniors will be able to participate in their annual In-School Business Week in April. There, juniors form teams, called “companies,” that develop a product, develop marketing and production plans, and then search for “investors” – adults from the local business community – at a culminating trade show. Their companies have local business people as advisors, so it is a rare opportunity to learn about the fundamentals of capitalism from experienced professionals.

Along the way, students get lessons in personal finance and budgeting, how to behave in the workplace, appropriate office dress, and teamwork.

“Business Week has been a part of our organization for a long time, but we asked them to apply like any other program,” said CEO Tim Gibbs. “We have seen the value of this program, and we have heard from past participants how it has sharpened their focus and ambition for when they leave the world of academia behind for a job.”

The Educational Fund was established to promote opportunities for local schools to have students to experience business, career and vocational education.

Imperium Renewables and Westway team up to get paperwork moving on expansion plans

Imperium Renewables and Westway have sent a joint letter today asking the City of Hoquiam and the state Department of Ecology to begin developing environmental impact statements (EIS) on the companies’ terminal expansion projects at the Port of Grays Harbor.

Although both companies maintain they have satisfied all relevant environmental protection laws during their pursuit of permits for the projects, they acknowledge there is strong interest in the broader issue of shipping crude oil by rail.

“We want to provide ample opportunity for airing and responding to any concerns regarding the terminal expansions and the robust EIS process provides that opportunity,” Imperium Renewables CEO John Plaza said. “These are safe, well-designed facilities that are similar to many other facilities that are safely operating in Washington.”

“We remain committed to Grays Harbor and this project,” added Gene McClain,  CEO of Westway Group LLC. “We’re here to invest in the community and make sure we do our part which includes addressing the concerns and questions raised by our neighbors in this new permit application.”

The City and Ecology had issued both companies permits allowing them to move forward last year, but in November, the Shoreline Hearings Board cancelled its hearing on the permits and issued an order requiring more information about the cumulative impacts of increased rail and marine traffic associated with the terminal expansions.

Both companies were already in the process of gathering data on those issues, and that research will contribute to the development of the environmental impact statement. 

Proposed expansions at the Port of Grays Harbor by Westway and Imperium are projected to result in $143.3 million in direct and indirect investment during the year-long construction period, according to a study released by Greater Grays Harbor, Inc. The study also projected that the companies will spend $97.8 million in their first full year of operation. This will result in an additional $18.8 million in indirect economic output in Grays Harbor County.

Combined, these projects will create 148 direct fulltime family-wage jobs and hundreds of indirect jobs for the community and millions more in annual income.

“These kinds of investments are what make the Harbor an attractive place for other businesses looking to locate here,” explained Tim Gibbs, CEO of Greater Grays Harbor, Inc. “We are excited that Westway and Imperium is working with our community to grow these opportunities.”

Both companies anticipate the EIS process will take approximately one year allowing for construction to begin in 2015. Construction will take approximately 12 months.

Port of Grays Harbor ariel view

Continue reading Imperium Renewables and Westway team up to get paperwork moving on expansion plans

Pasha Automotive Services is January Business of the Month

Greater Grays Harbor, Inc. has announced that Pasha Automotive Services is their Business of the Month for January.

The shipping business has been in Grays Harbor for five years, and a member for that whole time.

In the last year, Pasha has supported United Way, local schools, Foodball, youth sports, YMCA of Grays Harbor, Scouts, Morningside, Cosmopolis fire fighters, Coastal Harvest, Christmas for Kids and many other non-profits.

Employees of Pasha take part in Rotary and Elks.

“Pasha has been a great business to have on the Harbor, it not only gives back but it hires local people and is growing,” said Georgia Bravos, Vice Chair of the ambassadors.

When asked why Greater Grays Harbor was important to Pasha, general manager Matt Raasch said, “GGHI has helped us network with local companies when we are needing help with finding vendors for projects within our business.”

The Business of the Month is based on excellence in image, employee relations, community service, support of Greater Grays Harbor, Inc. and customer service. Only 12 awards are made each year and chosen from about 500 members.

Greater Grays Harbor Inc. Annual Legislative Sendoff – good food with good people

Business leaders throughout Grays Harbor had lunch with state legislators at the annual Legislative Send-Off luncheon held in Aberdeen yesterday by Greater Grays Harbor, Inc.  VP of Operations at Imperium Renewables John Gillespie said things are looking up at the Port. “We’re excited about our future at Grays Harbor, with organizations like Greater Grays Harbor [Inc.] who can foster continued growth by attracting business, and providing a conduit to policy makers – basically this event is an example of that. 
His company has expanded to 39 employees in the 5 years there, investing over 2 million in capitol improvements in the past year.
As they head to Olympia to convene for the state’s regular session that begins on January 13, State Senator Jim Hargrove noted recent strides in cost cutting. “Over the last 5 years, through the great recession we have resized government. We have cut 12 billion dollars out of carry-forward government in this state. Like we eliminated the General Assistance Unemployment Cash Program, that’s probably why you see so many people pan handling out here because there’s no cash available for some of those people that are unemployable. We’ve cut the TANF or the welfare program -the grants, and put a hard 5 year time limit on it, so that’s definitely affecting people, budget savings.
Hargrove also said they’ll be discussing ways to keep businesses in Washington, noting the recent Boeing contract extension with Machinists in Washington.
Representative Steve Tharinger (D-Dungeness) speaks to business leaders in Aberdeen.
Representative Steve Tharinger (D-Dungeness) speaks to business leaders in Aberdeen.

Larry Kahl introduced guest speaker John Gillespie, VP of Operations at Imperium Renewables

Former House Speaker Lynn Kessler emceed the event

GGH Inc. celebrates Business Recognition Awards at annual Leaders Banquet

If you missed the banquet, here’s a short review of those recognized.  Here’s a link to a YouTube video of the winners with an explanation in their own words of who and what their business is and why they are a part of the Grays Harbor County business community:   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GHXWmlDPwS8  “GGHI Business Recognition Award and Leaders Banquet 2013.”

Included in the celebration activities was a newly established award honoring a long time supporter of Grays Harbor’s employment and businesses.  The “John Loyle Award Spirit of the Community” award was presented to Linda Loyle and family in honor of John’s selfless dedication to the Grays Harbor community.  Another award that was given for the first time was the “Ambassador of the Year Award”.  Angie West of Express Employment Professionals to recognize her outstanding contributions to our county and the businesses that call Grays Harbor home.

  The banquet was attended by over 200 members of the business community of Grays Harbor.  Along with the celebration of the Business Recognition Awards, the attendees had the opportunity to raise funds for the GGHI (Greater Grays Harbor, Inc.) Education Fund that supports career, technical education and entrepreneurial activities and allows local schools to compete in the application process for the award of the $6,340 raised at the banquet through the raffle and auction.  This was the biggest amount ever raised for the Education Fund. 



Synopsis of Winners and Finalists:

Category                      Winner                                                                 Finalist

Non-profit                    Grays Harbor Community College             Coast Harvest

New Business            Wishkah River Distillery                                 Flowers by Pollen

Small Business           Dunsire Printers                                               Techline

Large Business          Five Star Dealerships                                      Levee Lumber

Study says crude by rail would bring hundreds of jobs, millions of dollars

The expansions will be a boon to neighborhoods and local businesses, with operational employment projected at 303 direct and indirect jobs. According to the report, the terminal, rail and marine jobs created through these projects will pay significantly above the Grays Harbor County average. Construction at the port will also require the hiring of 231 workers.

“Since 2008, we’ve taken pride in providing family-wage jobs to the Grays Harbor community. With this expansion, Westway can grow our operations and strengthen our commitment to the safety of our employees and our neighbors,” said Gene McClain, CEO of Westway Terminal Company LLC. “We’re happy to see our dedication to Grays Harbor reflected in the economic impact statement.”

In addition, infrastructure improvements will enable the port to handle increased exports for international markets and better handling of domestic energy supplies.The projects are currently in the permitting stage and are expected to be completed in 2016.

Economic Impact Analysis of Bulk Liquid at Port of Grays Harbor

Greater Grays Harbor Inc. hosts 122nd annual Leaders Banquet and Business Recognition Awards

ABERDEEN, Wash. – Greater Grays Harbor, Inc. will hold its 122nd annual Leaders Banquet and Business Recognition Awards at 6 p.m. Friday, Oct. 11 at the Quinault Beach Resort and Casino. This dinner and awards presentation recognizes success and excellence in the Harbor’s business community, and this year’s theme is “Grays Harbor Business: Hidden Treasure. ”

This year they are honoring Rich Hartman’s Five Star Dealerships as the winner in the Large Business category; the finalist is Levee Lumber. In the Small Business category, Sandy Dunsire, Dunsire Printers is the winner; the finalist is Techline. Wishkah River Distillery is their winner in the New Business category, and Flowers by Pollen is the finalist. And for their Non-Profit category, the winner is Grays Harbor College, Ranked 15th highest-rated community college in the country, and the finalist is Coastal Harvest.

The Leaders Banquet will begin with the Pre-Party at 6 p.m. and dinner and the program will start at 7 p.m on Friday, Oct. 141 at the Quinault Beach Resort and Casino. Tickets are $45 per person.

For more information, or to reserve a seat or table, call 532-1924 or email.