Attorney general speaks in Issaquah about promoting innovative business

The Issaquah Chamber of Commerce got a big kick-off for its newest business promotion with a visit by Attorney General Rob McKenna Wednesday.

Over the next few months the chamber plans to highlight businesses in Issaquah that have used innovative ideas to grow and create jobs.

McKenna offered a keynote speech about state and federal measures that could encourage business growth in the region.

Popular questions from the audience were about infrastructure and education.

“It’s really painful to our region that we are so slow at making infrastructure decisions,” McKenna said, pointing out how long it took to make decisions on the Seatac Airport runway and the 520 bridge.

Among other practical solutions for increasing commerce, he suggested the state combine all of the ports under one governing body.

McKenna also focused on the country’s poor fourth-grade reading scores, a crucial year when students transition from learning to read to reading to learn, he said.

“Folks, we’re just not doing an adequate job,” he said.

Quality education creates a more valuable workforce, crucial for growing businesses, he said. He also praised the Issaquah School District’s success in attracting families to the area.

“People move here to put their kids in this school district,” McKenna said.

He also placed an emphasis on encouraging parent involvement and accountability to their student’s education.

“We need to talk about adult education on how to be a parent,” he said.

Alongside using education to grow a stronger workforce, he also talked about improving immigration.

While many consider distant countries like China and India as potential competitors in the global market, Washington should be concerned with the immediate competition in Vancouver, B.C.

“They’re trying to position themselves to eat our lunch,” he said.

Microsoft announced plans to open a 3,500 person facility in Canada, after frustrations over the availability of work visas, he said.

While concerned with certain laws that enable illegal immigration into the state, he thinks the country should make it easier for immigrants to get work visas.

“Our greatest advantage in this country is we’re great at providing a high level of human capital,” he said.