By Peter Abbarno
20th District Rep. R-Centralia
Success on personal and professional levels requires collaboration, partnership, and communication. As a business owner, I know how important organizations like the Centralia- Chehalis Chamber of Commerce are to the success of my business and our community. The information, resources, networking opportunities, and promotion are all important to a small business. But it doesn’t stop there.
For the past 8 years, I hosted “Let’s Talk About It” on AM1470 KELA radio. Although I no longer host daily, I still host “Let’s Talk About It, Sunday” on AM1470 KELA and 104.3 KMNT with a focus on highlighting businesses, organizations, and people doing interesting things in our community and beyond. The Chamber recently joined me to discuss all the partnerships that help them with their upcoming 3-on-3 basketball tournament, black Friday bags, Business After Hours events, ribbon cuttings, and chamber forums. You can find the show at www. YourCommunityTalks.com.
There are organizations throughout our region that help provide support for our community. In historic downtown cities, look no further than Main Street organizations like Experience Chehalis and the Centralia Downtown Association. I recent legislative sessions, I have supported the expansion of the Business and Occupation (B&O) Tax available to local Main Street Organizations. Investing in our historic downtown districts must continue to be part of our community’s economic portfolio.
We all continue to benefit from the tourism promotion and business recruitment activities of Discover Lewis County, Economic Alliance, White Pass Scenic Byway, museums, and charitable organizations. For many years, the State neglected a statewide tourism strategy and removed essential funding for the infrastructure necessary to build and improve communities. I am happy to report that the State recently made historic investments in both tourism and necessary infrastructure to create jobs, build housing, and protect the environment.
As a former Centralia City Councilmember, I stressed the importance of local control and flexibility; both in funding of projects and policies. That same value is shared in my position as your State Representative in the 20th Legislative District; especially as it applies to my role as the ranking member on the House Capital Budget Committee. Washington gets better results from community-based solutions; community-up is better than Olympia-down. And, those local solutions are better when there is collaboration and cooperation.
Over the past three years, the 20th Legislative District, which stretches from Rainier in Thurston County through Ridgefield in Clark County, benefited from significant capital budget investments; including $161 million in 2021, $9.3 million in the 2022 supplemental budget, and $133 million in 2023. These successful investments might be spent elsewhere if it was not for the quality planning and partnerships we have.
I recently attended ribbon cuttings for the new pedestrian overpass on the Willapa Hills Trail and city park in Tenino; and toured state funded projects like wastewater treatment plants, fire and public safety facilities, public utility improvements, culverts, bridges, schools, and early learning facilities. These capital budget investments required collaboration with local organizations, local governments, and the State of Washington. They create jobs, improve the quality of life in the community, and help solve problems identified at the local level.
I am very thankful for the relationships we have in our community that work together to help improve Centralia, Chehalis, and Southwest Washington. Although the legislative session is over, my office works daily on policies and projects throughout the district. Contact my legislative office at www. RepresentativePeterAbbarno. com for more information about my priorities and capital budget programs.
Rep. Peter Abbarno represents the 20th Legislative District and is an attorney with Althauser Rayan Abbarno, LLP.
Abbarno is the featured speaker for the July 13 Forum with lunch starting at 11:30 and the Forum starting at Noon. The Forum takes place at O’Blarney’s at the Gibson House located at 221 N. Tower in Centralia.