Washington State University was pleased to be involved with the latest Inland Northwest Chamber Fly-In to Washington, D.C. Organized by Greater Spokane Incorporated, the April visit brought together over 40 regional leaders representing business, civic, academic, tribal and health care institutions, as well as the Valley Chamber of Commerce, the West Plains Chamber of Commerce, and the Post Falls and Coeur d’Alene Chambers. The trip provided the opportunity for Chamber members to advocate on behalf of important regional issues, including transportation infrastructure needs, the development of STEM networks, programs at Fairchild Air Force Base, and issues surrounding health care delivery.
Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA-5)
Over the course of two days, the group met with U.S. Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell of Washington, U.S. Senators James Risch and Mike Crapo of Idaho, Congressman Denny Heck (WA-10), Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rogers (WA-5), several senior Congressional staff, the Director of the Washington, DC Office for Governor Inslee, and Phil Moeller, Spokane native and commissioner with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. At virtually all of these meetings, Chancellor Lisa Brown of WSU Spokane was able to articulate WSU’s interests in expanding the number of primary care physicians in rural areas. At present, of the 1600 residency slots in Washington State, only 100 of those are located in Eastern Washington.
Senator Patty Murray (D-WA)
On the second full day of the Fly-In, participants broke into groups for follow-up visits with various federal agencies. Team Fairchild headed to the Pentagon, STEM advocates traveled to the Department of Education, and health care proponents jumped on the Metro and headed out to meet with the director and senior staff from the Bureau of Health Professions and the Health Resources and Services Administration. WSU was able to use this opportunity to highlight the community collaboration that has come together in the Greater Spokane area behind the region’s recent Teaching Health Center grant. Final meetings included a session with the Acting Deputy Secretary of Transportation and the Administrator of the Federal Highway Administration, as well as the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and the White House Business Council. The Fly-In provided the opportunity for citizens of the Inland Northwest to advocate around important regional issues and bring a distinct regional voice to the proceedings. It also marked the last Fly-In to be orchestrated by Rich Hadley, the well-respected and long-time President and CEO of Greater Spokane Incorporated, prior to his retirement.