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

The Airbus subsidiary behind a self-flying, battery-powered passenger drone says the prototype has made its first flight at Eastern Oregon Regional Airport in Pendleton.

Over the weekend, Washington state tightened the screws—again—on an Atlantic salmon farming operation. The state Department of Natural Resources Saturday terminated the lease for Cooke Aquaculture's Cypress Island fish farm near Anacortes.

Lyft, Uber Drivers May Face Fingerprint Background Checks

Feb 5, 2018

Uber and Lyft drivers may soon have to undergo tougher background checks in Washington state. Lawmakers are considering a proposal that would require drivers to pass a fingerprint background check before being allowed to operate.

Courtesy of the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce

Since former Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland left office weeks ago, political observers have wondered what's next for her.

Now, they have an answer.

Strickland, who was term limited after eight years in office, is taking over leadership of the region's largest business lobbying group, the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce.

Washington state lawmakers are trying to figure out how to make benefits such as health insurance and retirement funds more accessible to people in the gig economy. 

There is a bill in the state House of Representatives that would introduce a system of "portable benefits" that follow workers from job to job.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

The three large glass domes at the heart of Amazon's downtown Seattle headquarters officially opened Monday. The spheres function as both another workspace for Amazon employees and an indoor rainforest.

Updated at 11:17 a.m. ET

Health care costs are "a hungry tapeworm on the American economy," Berkshire Hathaway Chairman and CEO Warren Buffett says, and now his firm is teaming up with Amazon and JPMorgan Chase to create a new company with the goal of providing high-quality health care for their U.S. employees at a lower cost.

A regulatory snafu in Washington state has industrial hemp farmers in limbo over planting a crop in 2018. Some of them are looking to shift acreage to Oregon.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

Amazon Go opened to the public Monday. The downtown Seattle convenience store uses cameras and sensors to track shoppers' purchases, eliminating the need for cashiers and check-out lines.

Amazon on Monday will open its automated grocery in Seattle to the public, replacing cashiers with a smartphone app and hundreds of small cameras that track purchases.

For the past year, the 1,800-square foot mini-mart has been open to the company's employees.

There is no waiting in line for check out at Amazon Go, as the store is called — instead, its computerized system charges customers' Amazon account as they exit the store.

A quartet of young companies from the Seattle area have raised tens of millions of dollars by tapping into a hot tech trend. They've invented new virtual currencies and sold digital coins to the public.

These token sales are largely unregulated and are sparking increasingly frequent government warnings.

"Moving day for Russell" by Scott Hingst is licensed under CC by 2.0 http://bit.ly/2Ft6FfX

State Farm Insurance is clearing out of Tacoma by the end of the year, the company said Thursday, meaning some 1,400 jobs will leave the city's downtown as local leaders name attracting employers as a top priority. 

Keith Cooper / Flickr

Here’s one more thing to worry about if you’re trying to buy a home in the hot Seattle real estate market: You could get duped into wiring your down payment to a fraudulent account.  Real estate professionals across the country and in the Puget Sound region report an alarming spike in wire fraud.

The price of bitcoin set another new all-time high Wednesday, shooting past $13,000. The meteoric rise in the value of bitcoin and lesser known virtual currencies is having a real world effect in the Pacific Northwest.

Entrepreneurs are bombarding the public utilities in Central Washington with requests for cheap hydropower to run bitcoin computers.

A prototype of a single-seat passenger drone has arrived at Pendleton, Oregon's airport for flight testing. That according to the Silicon Valley-based Airbus subsidiary A^3—or “A-cubed”—behind the Vahana Project.

The battery-powered, self-flying aircraft has been reassembled after shipping and is now undergoing ground tests.

The statewide unemployment rate in Washington again touched a record low of 4.5 percent in October. That's according to the Washington Employment Security Department, which has been tracking the number since the mid-1970s.

Alaska Airlines is saying "Adios" to Cuba. The Seattle-based airline Tuesday announced it will discontinue flights to Havana after the holidays. Alaska joins a parade of other U.S. carriers who are trimming back flights to Cuba or dropping service entirely.

There has been a lot of talk about potential Russian manipulation of the 2016 presidential election. Now there's concern about shadowy online electioneering filtering down to the state and local level. It comes in the aftermath of a high-stakes state Senate race in Western Washington.

Washington state is proposing changes to how winery wastewater is handled. And that could mean consumers are in for some “bottle shock” when their favorite Washington wine gets more expensive.

Earlier this year, a gray whale calf died after getting tangled in crab pot lines near Seaview, Washington. Now commercial and tribal crab fishermen from the Washington coast have agreed to form a working group to discuss how to reduce the risk of a repeat.

This story has been updated.

Since recreational marijuana became legal in Washington state and Oregon, the booming industry has been having having trouble accessing the banking system. And now a hemp fashion retailer in Blaine, Washington, is having the same problem.

Michael Ableman

Happiness often feels elusive.  Recent work to understand what makes us happy shows that what we’re looking for could be closer than we think. Starting Friday, a group is getting together in Port Townsend to see how they can carve out their own bit of happiness.

It has the power to save lives by targeting opioid overdoses — something that kills more than 140 Americans every day. And now Narcan, the nasal spray that can pull a drug user back from an overdose, is being carried by all of Walgreens' more than 8,000 pharmacies.

For years, Amazon has been testing the limits of online deliveries — expanding the number of things you can order at the click of a button (sometimes literally), pushing shipments to arrive faster, toying with delivery by drones.

Elaine Thompson / Associated Press

Seattle’s Cafe Racer, the iconic coffee house and bar in the University District will be closing its doors for the last time Wednesday night.  Many remember Cafe Racer as the scene of a deadly mass shooting in 2012. Yet,  for regulars it’s the real deal in a city where it’s getting hard to find that kind of character.

Oregon farmers planted the state’s first legal crops of industrial hemp a couple of years ago. Now the first Washington state farmer to plant the non-drug cousin of marijuana has harvested the crop. 


Hemp entrepreneur Cory Sharp is fairly happy with Washington’s first legal crop in almost 90 years. His farmer partners harvested 105 acres earlier this month from irrigated fields near Moses Lake. 


But the celebration is tempered because the crop is unsold.


There's one week left for North American cities to assemble their bids to lure one of the biggest economic prizes in years, the second Amazon headquarters. At least half a dozen Pacific Northwest places plan to submit proposals.

Washington’s economic climate is the fourth best in the nation. That’s according to a new report by produced by Washington’s Economic and Revenue Forecast Council.

Ed Ronco / KNKX

Postdoctoral researchers at the University of Washington are taking a step toward unionizing. They’re working with UAW Local 4121, which represents academic student employees at the university.

The Seattle area has given birth to aviation icons such as the Boeing 747 jumbo jet and carbon fiber 787 Dreamliner. Could a low-emissions electric jet someday join that hall of fame?

On Thursday, Kirkland, Washington-based startup Zunum Aero unveiled the specs for a hybrid electric jet.

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