EAST WENATCHEE — When it came time to meet U.S. Rep. Dan Newhouse, Jeffrey Soehren, the proprietor of the Blue Spirits liquor distillery network, decided to do some math and show his work.
“We sell this bottle for $58 retail,” said Soehren, whose business is based out of Chelan. “We’ll pay a combined $19.70 tax on that — 33 percent.”
Taxes, tariffs, a tight labor market and other issues came to fore Friday at a business roundtable with the 4th District congressman. The port districts of Chelan and Douglas counties hosted the meeting at Pangborn Memorial Airport. Over an hour, Newhouse heard from 10 Wenatchee Valley business leaders, representing distilling, aerospace, manufacturing, software design, recreation and farming.
“We can’t complain too much,” said Ed Phinney of Pacific Aerospace & Electronics in Wenatchee. “The defense market has gone crazy. Our main focus is the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. Right now, we can’t build parts fast enough.”
“In excess of 90 percent of what’s produced in the state of Washington for wheat is exported,” said Paul Katovich of the HighLine Grain Growers cooperative in Waterville. “And so our concentration is trying to get it to port.”
“Now we’re all fighting for employees,” said Charlie Whitney of ACCOR Technology in East Wenatchee. “But that’s a good problem to have, right?”
Overall, the Sunnyside congressman got good news from the execs, which he’ll take into consideration while crafting bills back in D.C.
“A lot of times, laws are passed and you kinda wonder, ‘Well, how’d that really work?’” Newhouse said. “This is an opportunity to hear directly from the people that are trying to follow those laws, to deal with the impacts of those new requirements.”
In political matters, Newhouse has thrown his support behind fellow Republican Dino Rossi to replace retiring 8th District U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert. Some polls predict Democratic takeover of the House, but the congressman says he can go with the flow.
“I’ve always been one that can work with both sides. I got started in government in the state Legislature in Washington, I was always in the minority as a Republican, and learned that I had to work with the majority party. And so I think that I can be just a s effective no matter who’s in control in Washington, D.C.”
Jefferson Robbins: 679-7013