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June 24, 2004

Message from the Governor

This week I have been in Mexico, leading a delegation from our state on a four-day trade mission. Our state’s delegation includes leaders from government, business and agriculture.

Washington state and Mexico share a rich history of business, educational and cultural exchange. We value Mexico as one of our leading trade partners. We exported $607 million in products to Mexico in 2003. This was a 40 percent increase over the previous year. And we know that there is great untapped potential to further expand this trade relationship.

We hope to open doors of opportunity this week for our state’s farms and businesses. And we're further developing our close ties with Mexico's government and business leaders.

We are one of the most trade-oriented states in America. Washington exports for 2003 totaled $34.2 billion. We are the fourth largest exporting state in the United States.

Quote of the Week
“We’re enthusiastic about this opportunity to promote two-way trade between Mexico and Washington state. We also hope to further expand tourism, encourage investment and enhance our educational and cultural exchanges.”
—Governor Locke, Guadalajara, Mexico, June 24, 2004

Some of the reasons we rank so high compared to many larger states include our natural geographic advantages in trade, our many outstanding products and services which are in global demand, and the presence of some great international companies here in our state. But part of the reason we are so successful in international trade is also because we work hard to be. Trade missions are a central part of this work.

We sometimes hear or read comments in the media questioning whether we really need to take such trips. But this week, as with our previous trade missions, we haven’t stopped working every day from pre-dawn to after dark. The days are very full, because we have limited time and we don’t want to miss any opportunities. Our trade missions also entail hard work, long hours, high stress, and a sense that a lot rides on every conversation and meeting. Because it does. Delegates who participate in trade missions tell us that we are able to open doors for them and help generate leads and develop relationships that they feel they would not be able to achieve without our assistance.

I find our missions profoundly illuminating and gratifying. We make a commitment before we leave on trade missions to make the most of every hour we spend in another country. Typically, we return with very good news for our state’s economy, and new and renewed friendships with our counterparts in other countries. For example, our mission to Mexico in 1999 helped result in the historic first-ever shipments of fresh Washington potatoes to Mexico in May 2003. Trade missions are clearly an investment that pays off.

Next week I will share the results of the mission to Mexico, including news of my meeting with the President of Mexico, Vincente Fox. I am confident that there will be good news for Washington now and in the future as a result of this mission.

Gary Locke
Gary Locke

Governor’s Priorities
News Highlights

Helping Families Transition From Welfare to Work
Washington’s WorkFirst program continues to help families make the transition from welfare to work, according to a comprehensive study by university researchers and the state. The study found that parents who received welfare and participated in WorkFirst activities, including Job Search activities and pre-employment training, were more likely to be employed and had higher wages than those who did not. The Community Jobs program, which provides short-term, subsidized work for the hardest-to-serve, was found to increase quarterly earnings by an average of $463. WorkFirst’s Job Search program was shown to increase pay by as much as $287. Pre-employment training, according to the study, improved wages by an average of $125. Study reports and additional information about WorkFirst are available on the WorkFirst Web site.

Serving Washington’s Veterans
Gov. Locke lays a wreath at the American cemetery in Normandy. Washington state is celebrating the 60th anniversary of the Local Veterans Employment Representative (LVER) Program with a ceremony preceding the June 30 Seattle Mariners game at Safeco Field. The state’s Employment Security Department runs the LVER program, which helps veterans secure employment and training. Twenty-four program representatives, who are veterans themselves, provide career counseling and job referral services at WorkSource centers statewide. Employment Security and WorkSource provided services to more than 43,000 veterans last year, including those with disabilities.

Preventing West Nile Virus
Washington still hasn’t had a human West Nile virus case contracted in our state, but that is likely to change. Only two states that have not had human cases. In May, the state Department of Health resumed testing dead birds for West Nile virus. This summer, for the first time, the department is also testing mosquitoes. Preventing mosquito bites is the best defense against contracting the virus. There is an updated and improved toll-free West Nile virus hotline (1-866-78-VIRUS) and the West Nile virus Web site. West Nile virus can be prevented by staying indoors at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active. In mosquito-infested areas, wearing bug repellent with DEET, a long sleeve shirt and long pants can help. Also, avoiding the accumulation of standing water around the house can help discourage mosquitoes.

Surf the Web Before Surfing the Beach
South Whidbey island Before heading to a favorite Puget Sound or Pacific beach this summer, be sure to check on-line to make sure the water is safe for swimming. Six-dozen swimming beaches along Puget Sound and the Washington coast will be tested at least weekly this summer for bacterial pollution that could make people sick. The results will be made available to the public on-line so citizens can decide whether it’s okay to swim or wade at their local beach. This project is a joint effort of the departments of Ecology and Health, with funding from the federal Environmental Protection Agency.

Upcoming Events
6/28: News Conference on Mexico Trade Mission, Olympia
6/29: Everett Chamber and Rotary Luncheon, Everett
6/29: Ask the Governor, KCTS
6/30: Weekly News Conference, Olympia
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