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Business news and features from the Puget Sound region. Stay up-to-date with the latest business news and more.

Laura Schneider is one of the owners of Meeples Games in West Seattle.
Ashley Gross / KNKX

UPDATE, March 10: Adds information about Amazon's fund to help nearby small businesses and Gov. Jay Inslee's announcement about additional support for businesses and workers.

For the Seattle region, the novel coronavirus presents a significant public health challenge — and also a threat to people’s livelihoods.

The economic impact is already being felt. Hotels face cancellations, restaurants have empty tables, and a major economic driver for Seattle, the Emerald City Comic Con, which was set to start this week, has been postponed. Large employers including Microsoft and Amazon have asked employees to work from home, limiting commerce near their campuses.

An Alaska Airlines jet taxis beneath an enormous pedestrian bridge, still under construction at Sea-Tac Airport. It will link the south satellite with the new International Arrivals Facility.
Ed Ronco / KNKX

Lance Lyttle’s office offers a view across most of Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. He’s the managing director for the aviation division for the Port of Seattle. In short, he manages the airport. And from his corner windows you can see planes taking off and landing, and taxiing around the airfield.

But these jets are tiny in comparison to a new bridge that connects the airport’s South Satellite to a new International Arrivals Facility, where passengers will retrieve luggage and go through customs.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

Boeing plans to temporarily halt production of the 737 MAX in Renton beginning in January, but the company said there will not be any layoffs or furloughs at this time.

Shoppers walk outside the Nordstrom in Anchorage, Alaska, in 2009. The store is closing in September, after 44 years in business.
Al Grillo / AP

Seattle-based Nordstrom is closing stores as it – and other brick-and-mortar retailers – face big challenges in a world that’s turning more to online shopping.

The store at Northgate Mall is shutting down on Aug. 9. And in Anchorage, Alaska, the company will close a 97,000-square-foot store at the city’s Fifth Avenue Mall by September.

But in Alaska’s largest city, where Nordstrom arrived 44 years ago, the news hit particularly hard.

Several years ago, Union Wine Company of Tualatin, Oregon, put some wine in cans for a food festival. It was such a hit, says owner Ryan Harms, he decided to do it as his main business.  

“I think there are a lot of indicators that are helping us feel confident about our continued investment and what we’re doing,” Harms says.

Now, Union ships its Underwood-branded cans to 49 states and 11 countries. Other big wineries have noticed.

Drivers for Uber and Lyft, organized by Teamsters 117 and the App-Based Drivers Association, gather Wednesday, May 8, 2019, at the ride-hailing waiting lot at Sea-Tac Airport to protest low pay by the platforms.
Simone Alicea / KNKX

A few dozen drivers for Uber and Lyft gathered Wednesday morning at Sea-Tac Airport to talk about low pay in advance of Uber's highly anticipated initial public offering later this week.

Amazon spheres
Elaine Thompson / The Associated Press

Amazon's plans to relocate one of its critical teams to Bellevue have prompted questions about the company's relationship with Seattle.

"Airbnb" is licensed by CC
Brian Johnson and Dane Kantner / flickr

New short-term rental regulations are in effect in Seattle. Property owners, including those using online platforms such as Airbnb, now face limits on how many units they can rent and require an extra license to operate.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee signs the state's paid family leave law on July 5, 2017, in Olympia, Wash.
Rachel La Corte / AP Photo

Workers might see a little more coming out of their paychecks starting Jan. 1, as employers begin collecting premiums for Washington's new paid family and medical leave program.

In this file photo, an American Medical Response ambulance can be seen center responding to the Sept. 24, 2015, Ride The Ducks crash in Seattle.
Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press

Negotiations between the union representing emergency medical technicians in Seattle and their employer resumed Thursday afternoon, prompting the union to suspend an upcoming strike.

Construction begins soon in eastern Oregon for the first commercial-scale "torrefaction" facility in the country. If you don't know what that word means, you're in good company. 

But the process itself isn't all that exotic. 

You're forgiven if you missed the fact that Congress failed to renew the federal Farm Bill before the September 30 deadline. But people in farm country around the Pacific Northwest noticed.

Updated at 5:45 p.m. ET

Amazon will pay all of its U.S. employees a minimum of $15 an hour, more than double the federal minimum wage of $7.25. The retail giant, run by the world's richest man, was criticized earlier this year after revealing its workers' median pay was $28,446.

Amazon says the new rate will go into effect on Nov. 1, covering all of its full-time, part-time, temporary and seasonal employees in the U.S.

Services Employees International Union 775, a driving force for policy change throughout Washington state, has a new leader. Sterling Harders takes over as president of the local union Monday.

Retaliatory tariffs levied by China on U.S. goods are taking a toll on Pacific Northwest farm exports. Details about cancelled orders came out Wednesday at a state Senate committee hearing in Seattle.

Uber is paying $148 million to settle claims over the ride-hailing company's cover-up of a data breach in 2016, when hackers stole personal information of some 25 million customers and drivers in the U.S.

Hackers are using various forms of digital skullduggery to steal frequent flyer miles from customers of Delta, Alaska and other airlines. The thieves then resell the miles on the dark web.

In the last few years, rock-bottom electricity rates have attracted bitcoin miners and other virtual currency entrepreneurs to central Washington state. But in Chelan and Grant counties, that lure may be on the wane because of looming power price hikes.


The Chinese government announced on Tuesday that it would impose tariffs on $60 billion more of U.S. exports. This widens the range of Pacific Northwest companies caught in the trade crossfire.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

Longtime leader David Rolf is leaving his position as president of Service Employees International Union 775. First elected in 2003, he was the founding president of the local chapter.

Amazon's stock value briefly topped $1 trillion on Tuesday, a little over a month after Apple crossed the same milestone.

The tech and retail behemoth, founded as an online bookstore by CEO Jeff Bezos in 1994, has been consistently profitable only since 2015. In fact, Amazon profits have averaged $2 billion in each of the first two quarters of this year.

One of the largest supermarket companies in the U.S. has announced it is phasing out single-use plastic bags in an effort to reduce plastic waste.

The Kroger Co. says it plans to stop distributing single-use bags completely by 2025 across its chains.

Kroger includes major chains such as Ralphs, Harris Teeter, Food 4 Less, Pick 'n Save and, of course, Kroger. As of 2017, the company says it owns more than 2,700 supermarkets in 35 states and Washington, D.C.

The craft brewing industry in the Pacific Northwest is starting to feel pain from the Trump administration's steel and aluminum tariffs. Those metals are made into beer cans, kegs and fermentation tanks.

During every berry picking season in the Pacific Northwest, blueberry and raspberry growers fight to prevent birds from gobbling up the crop before they can harvest it. This year, some farmers are trying something new and high tech to scare away the thieving birds.

Seven national fast-food chains have agreed, under pressure, to eliminate a practice that limits their workers' ability to take jobs at other restaurants in the same chain, the Washington state attorney general announced Thursday.

Starbucks announced on Monday it plans to eliminate plastic straws from its 28,000 stores worldwide by 2020.

The company will broaden the manufacture and use of what some in social media have dubbed the "adult sippy cup." It's a plastic strawless lid that will come to replace single-use plastic straws that now inundate its coffee shops.

In the shadow of remote Dry Mountain in central Oregon, branding is the only way to guarantee a fair sorting of cattle among ranchers in the fall. Ear tags can rub off in the rough, sage-studded country.

So each year, before cattle are let out to graze on the summer range, the young are branded, castrated and vaccinated. Neighbors gather in the early morning to do the work.

Trade was at the forefront of the conversation with U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue Monday in Spokane.

U.S. beef ranchers who voted heartily for President Donald Trump are getting a bit skittish about his trade wars. International tariffs are set to hit U.S. beef the first week of July.

Ely Dar was going about her nightly turn-down service rounds at a Westin hotel in downtown Seattle when she knocked on a hotel room door.

A male guest invited her in, and as she was preparing the ice bucket on the table, she suddenly felt something on her back.

"I feel the guest on my back, and then the guest [hugged] me. I'm so scared," she tells Here & Now's Robin Young. "And then I turn around and then I push him, and then I ran away."

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