Business

Business news and features from the Puget Sound region. Stay up-to-date with the latest business news and more.

The Overcast: Amazon's HQ2 News Ripples Through Hometown

Sep 15, 2017
Elaine Thompson / AP

The news that Seattle-based Amazon wants to build what it calls an "equal" second headquarters somewhere else in North America sent shocks through the local political and business communities.

Big names in Northwest business are coming together to deepen the financing pool for the next great tech startups. Microsoft and Madrona Venture Group want to integrate the venture capital communities of Seattle and Vancouver, BC.

One of Boeing Defense subsidiary Insitu's 45-pound high-tech unmanned aircraft joined the fight against the Eagle Creek fire this weekend.

It sounds like a bit of a head-scratcher: Department store giant Nordstrom says its new concept store won't actually have any clothing in stock.

Instead, Nordstrom Local will focus on free consultations with personal stylists, who will advise customers and then have the merchandise brought in. People can also get manicures and curbside pickup.

Prospective customers will be able to make appointments "online, over the phone or in-person," the retailer says.

Amazon made the sort of announcement Thursday morning that mayors dream about.

The tech juggernaut said it was looking for the right city in which to build its "HQ2": a second headquarters in North America, equal to its campus in Seattle. And it's going to make that selection process a public one, akin to how cities bid to host an Olympic Games.

The number of ranchers in the U.S. is on the decline. There’s no recruiting for the gig and some of the generational ties to ranch land in the west have been severed, so it’s not clear who will take on the business in the future. One answer may be women.

A new survey from the Associated General Contractors of America shows that Washington and other states are facing a shortage of craft workers like carpenters and painters.
"setting out braces" by Matt Thompson is licensed by CC by 2.0

As construction booms, there continues to be a shortage of skilled crafts workers around the state, according to a yearly survey of general contractors.

The Associated General Contractors of America released results from the survey on Tuesday. About 79 percent of contractors in Washington state said they are having a hard time finding workers such as carpenters and concrete workers.

Amazon is cutting the prices of bananas, butter, organic eggs, and other best-selling staples at Whole Foods' 470 stores, promising customers lower costs and targeting the grocer's "Whole Paycheck" nickname. The online giant also says its Amazon Prime members will get special prices and perks.

Ever been stuck in traffic and wished you could just levitate and fly over the crawling cars? Flying cars of various sorts entered the popular imagination more than five decades ago. Think “The Jetsons.” 

And now, a division of aerospace giant Airbus is getting ready to test a pilotless flying air taxi.

With an eye on the future of online retailing, Walmart and Google are teaming up to go after rival Amazon in a play that also targets the growing market for voice-activated shopping.

Starting next month, Walmart customers will be able to access hundreds of thousands of products from the company's shelves — everything from dishwashing soap to dining tables — via the online retailing service Google Express. Until now, Walmart's enormous inventory was available online only through the company's own website.

Nike co-founder Phil Knight made his largest ever donation to an Oregon political race this week. The recipient is Republican candidate for governor Knute Buehler.

Under Armour founder and CEO Kevin Plank set off a social media firestorm last February when he voiced some overly positive words about the new administration of President Trump.

"To have such a pro-business president is something that's a real asset for this country. I think people should really grab that opportunity," said Plank, whose company makes sports apparel.

vbloke / Flickr

With less than a week till the much anticipated solar eclipse, some Amazon shoppers are scrambling to find glasses that are certified safe to view the event. The online retailer recently emailed some shoppers to tell them not to use the solar eclipse glasses they purchased on the site from third-party vendors.

The cluster of unmanned aircraft systems companies in the Columbia River Gorge led one online journal to dub the rural region east of Portland, "Dronetown, USA."

Ralph Radford / AP Photo

Jeff Brotman, one of the co-founders of Issaquah-based Costco Wholesale Corporation and chairman of the board, died Tuesday at age 74. In addition to starting one of the most successful retail chains in the country, Brotman will be remembered for his philanthropy.

Coming Soon To Eastern Washington: Tree-Free Paper Pulp

Jul 31, 2017

A company in eastern Washington is developing a new way to make paper pulp without trees. The mill will instead use a source abundant to the area: straw.

Outdoor recreation generates more than $3 billion in state and local tax revenue in the Northwest. That’s according to a report out this week from the Outdoor Industry Association.




Alaska Airlines is still ironing out operational wrinkles following the acquisition of Virgin America last year. At the same time, its smaller, regional airline is still grappling with a pilot shortage.

The statewide unemployment rate for Washington is holding at its record low in the latest jobs report out Wednesday. The state's Employment Security Department pegged the jobless rate in June at 4.5 percent, the same as in May.


State legislatures and city halls are battling over who gets to set the minimum wage, and increasingly, the states are winning.

After dozens of city and county governments voted to raise their local minimum wage ordinances in the last several years, states have been responding by passing laws requiring cities to abide by statewide minimums. So far, 27 states have passed such laws.

Workshop Set For Injured Hispanic Workers In Yakima

Jul 14, 2017

An activist plans to hold a workshop in the Yakima Valley Saturday for injured workers who are Hispanic. It’s part of an effort to make sure more Spanish-speaking workers benefit from state services. 

Bellamy Pailthorp / KNKX

Four years of walkouts and labor organizing have paid off for workers at Sakuma Brothers Farms in Skagit Valley. The workers are planning a celebration Tuesday afternoon in Mt. Vernon in recognition of signing their first union contract, something that’s pretty rare in the agriculture industry.

In a move certain to anger Republicans, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee on Friday vetoed a tax break for manufacturers that lawmakers passed last week as part of a budget deal to avoid a July 1 government shutdown.

Monday marked the start of the Northwest’s bin-busting wheat harvest. Last year was big, but this year’s wet winter and spring has poured on the yields.

Online shoppers in Washington state may soon have to pay sales tax on out-of-state e-commerce purchases. Gov. Jay Inslee on Friday is expected to sign a package of tax increases just approved by the state legislature to balance the next two-year budget.

But the internet sales tax seems likely to be challenged in court.

Beginning in 2020, workers in Washington will be eligible for paid family and medical leave through a new state program funded by employee and employer contributions. 



Elaine Thompson / AP

Two recent studies on Seattle's $15 minimum wage law seem to conflict in their preliminary analyses of the effects of the law.

Spirits company Diageo is buying Casamigos, the tequila company co-founded by George Clooney, in a deal that values the company at up to $1 billion. The actor founded the company in 2013 with longtime friend Rande Gerber.

Diageo will make an upfront payment of $700 million for Casamigos, with another $300 million to follow if it hits sales targets.

Casamigos "has delivered impressive growth," Diageo says in a news release, "reaching 120,000 cases in 2016, primarily in the U.S." The company says the tequila brand is expected to top 170,000 cases by the end of this year.

The first day of summer doesn't begin until Wednesday but United Parcel Service already is looking ahead to the colder seasons with plans to charge retailers an extra fee for orders placed around Black Friday and Christmas.

And consumers could end up carrying that extra weight if retailers decide to pass on the cost by raising shipping fees.

Updated at 3:12 p.m. ET

The first sentence of Yahoo's Wikipedia page now reads, "Yahoo! Inc. was an American multinational technology company."

Yahoo's Internet properties officially became Verizon's properties Tuesday, as the telecom giant finalized its $4.5 billion acquisition.

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