Blog

Making a Comeback

Business Bank opened in 2005 and had a couple of great years.  2009 and 2010 were tough, but 2011 is off to a terrific start.  On March 31st, we closed our capital campaign which raised a total of $4.1 million in new capital (Over 250 local investors participated in the offering).  With a management team that has been here before, new capital and overall improvement of the bank’s balance sheet, Business Bank is poised to take advantage of the opportunities in the marketplace.
 
Overall, banking institutions are on the mend.  This is great news for our local community and for our country.  In 2010, there were a total of 157 bank closures across the United States.  There have been 26 so far in 2011, but the pace from January to March has slowed considerably.  There are two reasons for the slowdown.  First, the banks that are able to raise capital from their local communities are surviving (Business Bank is a perfect example).  Secondly, the market in general is improving and real estate values appear to have bottomed out.  As real estate values dropped, banks had to write down these assets to the current market value, less selling costs.  These write-downs are at the epicenter of bank failures.
 
There are many signs of recovery all around us…just do not expect the front page of the local newspaper to be full of them on a daily basis.  The crisis we have just been through will have lasting effects, but take a moment to think about where we are at today and the opportunities that lie ahead.  The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down to 6,600 points….it is now consistently above 12,000.  Boeing was just awarded a huge contract, which has significant meaning for our real estate market in Skagit County.  (Guess how many Boeing employees live in Skagit County.  Whatever number you came up with, double it and you might be close).  The unemployment rate and the pace of business closures and bankruptcies are all in decline and people are again buying cars!  At the recent EDASC Economic Forecast Dinner, the speaker shared with us that as Americans, we are driving the oldest fleet of cars…EVER! Maybe the 300 people in the crowd took this to heart and went out and made a purchase.
 
As a commercial lender, I speak with borrowers looking to invest in their business and have a finger on the pulse of how things have been for the past couple of years and what these business owners are planning to do going forward.  Their pulse is telling me that they are tired of sitting on the fence to wait and see what happens.  Business owners are expanding their operations, buying new equipment, hiring key people and looking to invest in real estate at a pace not seen for the past couple of years.  I am encouraged by what I see!!!
 
In closing, if you are sitting on the fence waiting for something to happen, ask yourself the question, “What am I looking for?”  I would love to hear your answers.
 

 

 
Jeremy McCullough
VP, Commercial Lending/Marketing
Business Bank

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Using Water Wisely

Using Water Wisely

Conserving today can defer costs into future

As a water provider, Skagit PUD serves more than water. We provide value, public health, fire protection, reliability, and peace of mind. Our job is to ensure that your water keeps flowing not only today, but well into the future.

As you think about your own water usage, consider the following facts:

• The United States uses some 450 billion gallons of water every day. Only about six percent of that—27 billion gallons—is taken by the public water supply systems. The US daily average of water pumped by those systems is 185 gallons per person.
 

• At least 30 percent of water used annually by a single-family household is for outdoor water irrigation. A large portion of that goes to waste through evaporation or runoff caused by over-watering. In the summer, the average daily demand for water can nearly double for Skagit PUD customers.

How does nature recycle water?

The water cycle keeps the amount of total water on the globe constant. Water from oceans, lakes, rivers, ponds, puddles, and other water surfaces evaporates to become clouds. The clouds make rain, snow, or sleet that falls to earth to make rivers and streams, some of which seeps into the ground to form groundwater. All of this water flows to the ocean to start the cycle over again. Before returning to the ocean, some of this water is taken for drinking water and then is discharged as wastewater. The cycle is never-ending.

Why should I conserve?

Although the amount of water on the globe is constant, conserving is still important. Skagit County has seen steady population growth in recent years. As the population increases, so does the demand for water. This means that every so often, Skagit PUD must spend some money to find another source of water or augment its existing sources. These costs impact your water rates. Since 1996, Skagit PUD has invested $55 million in construction and riparian mitigation to meet current and future water demands—

• New pump station built on the Skagit River;
• Water treatment plant capacity doubled;
• Judy Reservoir dams raised to increase storage level;
• Major transmission lines upsized.

If people conserved, the water demand would not grow as fast as the population and the need to look for more water would be delayed. This permits the PUD to defer expenditures and to use the money for something else in the meantime—such as maintaining its 600 miles of pipeline. In addition, not all of the water taken as drinking water gets right back to the source. Thus, if communities are conserving water so that less is needed, more water will be left for fish habitat.

Water conservation is something we all should practice. Except for the air we breathe, water is the single most important element in our lives. It’s too precious to waste.

Please use it wisely.

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Skagit Regional Airport is building for the future

The first phase of a project to rebuild the main runway at Skagit Regional Airport, which serves Mount Vernon, is essentially complete.

The project to upgrade Runway 10-28 will span two years to accommodate the short Northwest construction seasons and will cost an estimated $15.3 million, said Sara Young, manager of planning and environmental services for the Port of Skagit, which owns and operates the airport. Funding from the Federal Aviation Administration will cover 95 percent of the design and construction cost, Young added, and the Washington State Department of Transportation also is contributing funds to the project.

The first phase of work replaced the World War II-era runway’s failed under drain system with a new system located outside the boundaries of the runway pavement. Then a 2-inch-thick maintenance overlay, compatible with the second-phase crown conversion, was placed on the runway to limit further deterioration of the surface. Lenses on runway edge lights in the last 2,000 feet of the runway were replaced, and wildlife deterrent fencing was installed.

The port awarded a contract for $2.5 million to Interwest Construction Inc., Burlington, for the first phase of construction. The Bellingham office of Precision Approach Engineering designed the project and is providing project oversight. The bulk of the work was completed in May and June, with a second coat of runway markings remaining to be painted late this month after the first coat cures. According to project records, 82 people have taken part in the work.

The second phase of the 10-28 project, scheduled to take place during the summer of 2012, will convert the runway’s surface into a crown section, shifting the highest part of the runway from the northern edge to the centerline. This will require raising the existing grade on the centerline by approximately 14 inches and will bring the runway into conformance with Federal Aviation Administration standards. At the same time, the eastern 1,500 feet of the runway will be raised approximately five feet to level it with the rest of the runway.

The Port of Skagit sees a bright future for the airport as a regional aviation center that contributes substantially to the Skagit Valley economy. The port’s economic growth committee is working on plans to redevelop the Runway 10-28 flightline for commercial and corporate aviation uses while building out the crosswind flightline for general aviation. The port also hopes to extend Runway 10-28 by 1,500 feet on the west end, which would make it nearly 7,000 feet long feet to make it more compatible with business jets and turboprop aircraft. Adding regularly scheduled passenger service is not part of the current plans for the airport.

For more information about Skagit Regional Airport, visit www.portofskagit.com/skagit-regional-airport/.

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Eaglemont’s New Clubhouse Opens!

Come & Enjoy The Northwest’s Most Natural Place To Play Golf... and Live

 
The new Clubhouse with the most outstanding views of the Puget Sound, Mount Baker and the beautiful Skagit Valley is ready to be viewed! With more than 20,000 square feet, offering Golfers outstanding ambiance, a great array of food options from ( easy take away to unique, fine dining) indoors and out and great bar services. Our Banquet, Conference, Meeting room facilities can accommodate from 10 to 270 guests in small intimate settings to large partitioned rooms that open for formal functions including Weddings, Family Reunions and other major events.

The spacious new Pro-Shop will offer Golfers a huge range of the latest in Golf equipment, clothing, lessons and more.

Add to all of this a full Fitness facility, including a separate Aerobics room, Men and Women’s Sauna and Locker rooms.

The new Clubhouse will also house Eaglemont’s Administration offices, their  Real Estate, Golf, Restaurant and Catering departments.

With the redesign of the Golf course layout, new improvements on the course including larger, expanded landing areas and of course the New Clubhouse will give an improved new feel to you when next you play or visit Eaglemont. Please note the driving range is just across the street from the New Clubhouse !

Eaglemont offers a variety of Real Estate including Homes, Condos, and Lots through their Real Estate department, Coldwell Banker Eaglemont.

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Mount Vernon Working to Create Downtown Coworking Community

Mount Vernon is joining a growing national trend of creating a coworking space - where contractors, consultants, bloggers and other elf-employed individuals rent desk space, private workstations or small offices in a common space complete with Wi-Fi, copiers, coffee and the other accouterments of office life.
 
“There are serious economic and technological reasons driving the arrangement,” according to a recent article in the San Jose Mercury News.  (http://bit.ly/p3vLoN)  “It turns out that no matter the marvels of mobile phones, the fabulousness of Facebook or the wonders of the webinar, many human beings need to be around other human beings to feel truly productive. We need each other for ideas, encouragement, conversation and the occasional good-natured razzing.”
 
The Skagit Coworking Community is exploring the possibilities of creating a facility in Downtown Mount Vernon that will meet the needs of people that would like to be a part of a coworking community.
 
“This is an exciting new venture that can happen because Mount Vernon  is the right location with the right bandwidth to accommodate high technology businesses,” said Dennis George, Co-Organizer of Skagit Coworking.  “Mount Vernon is ready, wired and within reach of businesses today and tomorrow.”
 
What is Coworking?  From the Seattle Coworking web site:
 
“Coworking means different things to different people although one pattern remains true. Coworking is about making the personal choice to work alongside other people instead of in isolation. For some, coworking is all about the accelerated serendipity that comes from individuals intermixing in person as opposed to online. For others it’s the motivation and accountability gained from working within a set of peers. And sometimes it’s just a reason to put on some pants and get out of the house in the morning. Regardless of the definition, coworking is a powerful and exciting way to work, and it’s making some big waves. What started as a simple idea by Brad Neuberg back in 2005 has grown into an inspiring movement that is spreading throughout the world.”
 
For further information:
Dennis George, Co-Organizer
Skagit Coworking
SkagitCoworking@gmail.com

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Mount Vernon Public School District

With additional, significant state budget cuts on the way, locating and taking advantage of grant resources to support our efforts is increasingly important. The past several weeks have brought some positive news in this arena. Read on for the details.

Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergrad Programs (GEAR UP)

Over the past six years, a consortium of districts from the Skagit and Yakima Valleys (including Mount Vernon) has been supported by a U.S. Department of Education GEAR UP grant, administered by the University of Washington.  GEAR UP (http://1.usa.gov/9dzAqE is designed to increase the number of low-income students who are prepared to enter and succeed in postsecondary education.  The program has provided a variety of supports, including after school tutoring, field trips to colleges and universities, and help navigating the college and financial aid application processes.  Services begin for students in 7th grade and follow those students through high school.  This week, we learned that the UW has received funding for a new student cohort, beginning with this year’s seventh graders.  Though details aren’t yet available, we do know the new grant emphasizes support for students in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) content areas.

Principal and Teacher Evaluation Systems

In 2010, the legislature passed a broad education reform bill (E2SSB 6696) which, in part, mandated significant changes in principal and teacher evaluation systems.  Last school year, eight districts and one small district consortium participated in a pilot project  to research instructional frameworks and related evaluation systems. Through their work, they prioritized three teaching frameworks and one administrative framework, subsequently approved by the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI).

This year, OSPI is funding Educational Service Districts across the state to work with several districts in their region to learn about and pilot one or two of the frameworks and evaluation systems.  We were recently awarded awarded one of these grants.  This allows us to get a head start on a change which, if left until 2013-14 (i.e., the deadline for implementation), would be very daunting.

Microsoft IT Academy

Mount Vernon High School's recent bid to participate in the Microsoft IT Academy was recently accepted.  As part of the Academy, the high school will receive upgrades to the Windows 7 operating system and licenses for Office 2010 and other Microsoft products.  Students will be able to earn certification in a variety of software applications.

Robotics

MVHS’s new technology teacher, Michael Criner, is out to bring Robotics to MVHS.  Michael and fellow CTE teacher Tim Hornbacher successfully applied to OSPI for a FIRST Robotics grant, which will bring $7,000 to assist in program startup.


 

 That's all for now.  Thanks for your continued support!

 

Carl Bruner

Superintendent

 

 

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End of Year Reflections

At this time of the year, it’s appropriate to reflect on the good fortune that has come our way in life. One thing all Skagitonians share is this wonderful place where we live. From the mountains to the sea we enjoy beautiful scenery, abundant wildlife and a relaxed rural lifestyle. Recreational opportunities are everywhere. There’s a sense of community here.

We all have felt the pinch with the downturn in the economy. But here at the Port of Skagit we see signs of improvement all around. Our buildings are full and many of our tenants are starting to hire again. People are working together to solve problems and create opportunities. Our partnerships with local municipalities are strong.

The port’s most recent employment census, completed in October, showed port tenants employed 1,042 people during the quarter, compared to 1,025 a year ago. There were 905 full-time employees, a decrease of 11 from last fall. But part-time employment grew, from 109 jobs last fall to 137 now, the census also revealed.

The total number of Port tenants is 86, up six from last fall. There were eight port tenants reporting at least 20 percent growth in full- and part-time jobs since last year. In addition, the port attracted three new tenants in the past year, bringing in a total of 19 full-time jobs and five part-time jobs.

As part of the tenant census, we asked the tenants to break down their employee counts by zip code in order to get a picture of where their workers live, pay taxes, shop, use public services etc.  Here is the breakdown, by port commissioner district:

District 1 (Mount Vernon and Conway) – 30 percent
District 2 (Burlington, Bow, La Conner) – 52 percent
District 3 (Sedro-Woolley and east) – 18 percent

The port has a busy year ahead, but that’s the way we like it. As always, our primary focus will be on our mission, Good Jobs for Our Community.

Carl Molesworth
Communications Manager

Port of Skagit

 

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The Mount Vernon Community Marketing Campaign is proudly sponsored by the Mount Vernon Chamber of Commerce, Skagit Valley Hospital, Skagit Valley College, Mount Vernon School District, and City of Mount Vernon, with the support of Skagit Public Utility District, Port of Skagit County and Comcast.

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