Spokane Journal of Business

Guest Commentary: AWB’s rebrand reflects its evolution

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As the state’s oldest and largest business association, the Association of Washington Business is recognized as the voice of employers, advocating on behalf of businesses of all sizes and from all industries to promote a healthy economy. 

We’re proud of our 113-year history and our work to build a better state for employers, employees, and communities. But times change and organizations must evolve to stay relevant. That’s why we recently introduced our first major brand update in more than three decades, complete with a new logo designed by the Spokane firm DH.

In some ways, the refreshed brand catches up with where our organization was already headed. We’ve evolved considerably in the last few years, looking for new ways to advocate for employers and address the challenges facing our state, and it was time for the branding to reflect that. 

We started moving in this direction three years ago by asking questions like:  What is our mission? What do people think about us? 

What we found is that now, more than ever, our employer members and their employees and local, state, and community leaders expect more of us—to take on a larger role in solving the complex problems facing families across the state.

They want us to convene groups and bring together divergent views to act as a catalyst for solutions that move our state forward in creating economic opportunity for all.

One way we are doing this is by strengthening our ties with local chambers of commerce. The AWB-Local Chamber Grassroots Alliance, which began in 2014 with 24 members, has grown to 72 chamber partners thanks to the leadership of Rich Hadley, president emeritus of Greater Spokane Incorporated. They include Spokane Valley Chamber of Commerce, Greater Spokane Incorporated, and the Colfax Chamber of Commerce. 

That partnership was integral in our efforts to negotiate and pass the first bipartisan transportation infrastructure investment package in the Legislature in a decade in 2015.

Another example of how we are demonstrating our brand is by putting a spotlight on the urban-rural economic divide.

In March, we hosted the first AWB Rural Jobs Summit in Olympia. From port and economic development leaders to lawmakers of both parties and chambers of commerce executives, more than 70 attendees gave up their Saturday to share ideas and listen to diverse viewpoints.

We recognize the solutions to job growth across Washington are complex. Those include addressing permitting and regulatory roadblocks, among others. Our next step must be to outline solutions that bring economic prosperity to every part of the state.

Some of the solutions can be found in a report commissioned by us and associations representing the cities, counties, and ports that outlines the numerous infrastructure investments needed to encourage new and existing employers to expand to rural communities. For example, we know that investing in projects like the north-south freeway help communities grow.

That dialogue will continue at a larger Rural Jobs Summit this fall to take what we learned in March and come up with action items at the state, local, and federal levels. 

In short, AWB’s rebrand is not a just a new logo. It’s a promise to be the catalytic leader and unifying voice residents of this state expect of employers and those of us who work alongside them to build an economy that works for everyone.

Kris Johnson is president and CEO of the Association of Washington Business, the state’s 
chamber of commerce and designated manufacturing association.

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