State lawmakers, leaders to visit Port Angeles for rural economic development meeting

PORT ANGELES — Lawmakers and leaders from across the state, including Speaker of the House Frank Chopp and state Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz, are scheduled to come to Port Angeles on Thursday to discuss rural economic development.

“This is about listening to each other, and working together, to help families and businesses in timber and farm country,” state Rep. Mike Chapman, the lead lawmaker for House Democrats on the issue, said in a press release. “It takes a team effort to create more opportunity and development for our small towns and counties in rural Washington.”

The first part of the day will start in room J-47 in Peninsula College’s Pirate Union Building, with opening remarks from Chopp and Chapman, D-Port Angeles, at 10 a.m. followed by talks with Franz, tribal leaders, local businesses and school board members and a tour of the college’s new child care facility. This portion of the summit is public.

“Health care and child care were huge concerns at our first rural event in Aberdeen,” Chapman said. “You can’t have a functioning community without doctors, nurses and hospitals. And working moms and dads can’t work if they can’t find good, affordable child care for their kids. Jobs, education, affordable child care, tax reform, health care, better infrastructure — all these issues are intertwined.”

In the afternoon, the event will switch to the Composite Recycling Technology Center for a private tour of that facility, which has spearheaded research into repurposing leftover composite from aircraft and car manufacturing into products and new uses, including the possibility of embedding small composite beams into cross-laminated timber to create “super wood.”

“Washington state can — and should be — a world leader in cross-laminated timber and composite recycling,” said Rep. Steve Tharinger, D-Sequim, chair of the House Capital Budget Committee, which controls the state’s construction budget. “These new ideas can create good, middle-class jobs in rural Washington, if we have the courage and vision to see them through.”

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Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at [email protected].

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