Ashley Gross

Business and Labor Reporter

Ashley Gross is KPLU's business and labor reporter, covering everything from Amazon.com and Boeing to garbage strikes. She joined the station in May 2012 after working for five years at WBEZ in Chicago, where she reported on business and the economy. Her work telling the human side of the mortgage crisis garnered awards from the Illinois Associated Press and the Chicago Headline Club. She's also reported for the Alaska Public Radio Network in Anchorage and for Bloomberg News in San Francisco.

She studied history at Brown University and earned a master's in international affairs at Columbia University. She grew up in Santa Fe, New Mexico. She lives in West Seattle with her husband and two sons.

One of Ashley's most memorable moments in radio happened several years ago in Northwest Alaska: "I was visiting an alcohol and drug rehab program in the tiny village of Selawik. It helps Alaska Natives recover by helping them get back in touch with their subsistence lifestyle. It was spring, which meant the river was still frozen - barely. We went out on snowmachines to go ice-fishing, but late in the day, as we headed back, the river had melted to the consistency of a Slurpee. It was a harrowing ride and a good lesson in trust - I rode with my eyes closed, clinging for dear life to the woman driving. A week later, three people drowned trying to ride a snowmachine over that river, and that's when I realized just how dangerous life in rural Alaska can be."

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Business
10:46 pm
Tue October 23, 2012

Is Amazon.com taking over the world?

soumit

Amazon.com recently gobbled up more than $1 billion dollars’ worth of real estate in Seattle’s South Lake Union neighborhood. The company is growing like crazy – we’ll hear on Thursday how fast quarterly sales and profit are growing. 

It’s spread way beyond retailing – the latest is that Amazon is functioning like a bank – lending money to its third-party merchants. It's just one of the many ways in which Amazon is flexing its muscles. 

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Business
8:24 am
Tue October 16, 2012

How do you say "globalization" in Wolof? Conference in Seattle focuses on translation

Washington state depends on exports – but the world’s many languages can be a barrier. Executives from 31 countries are gathering in Seattle this week to talk about translating everything from instruction manuals to smartphone apps.

To hear the complete story, click on the "listen" button above.

Business
10:09 am
Thu October 11, 2012

Tully's Coffee files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection

Andrew Buckingham

The Seattle-based coffee chain Tully’s says it’s going to reorganize under chapter 11 bankruptcy. Tully’s has long struggled to find a profitable niche amid fierce competition from its hometown rival Starbucks. A string of CEOs tried and failed to turn the company around.

Scott Pearson has been at the helm for a year and a half. He says expensive leases signed in the boom years have weighed the company down. Competition has also hurt.

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If Its Legal...?
5:00 am
Thu October 11, 2012

Will 'cannabis lounges' pop up if marijuana is legalized?

Bubble gum-flavored marijuana snow cones? Just one of the many options available at the Medical Cannabis Cup
Ashley Gross KPLU

Washington voters are weighing whether to become the first state to legalize marijuana. All this week in our series "If it’s legal: Five ways legal pot could affect your life," KPLU reporters have been imagining what the future could look like if it passes. Today, we check out the night-life scene, which could include a new version of BYOB – Bring Your Own Brownie. 

Say we fast-forward into the future. The legalization measure has just gone into effect. Where will people use marijuana? Will the guy you pass walking his dog be smoking a joint? Will you see people at a bar sharing their pot brownies?

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Business
1:04 pm
Tue October 2, 2012

Forty percent of jobs in Washington state are tied to trade

Even barista jobs at Starbucks can be connected to trade, if the customer is from a different country
Hawkins Multimedia

Trade is even more important to Washington state’s economy than previously thought. A new report says 40 percent of jobs in the state are connected to exports and imports.

A lot of that trade, of course, stems from very expensive airplanes produced and shipped from Washington. But the new report from two trade booster groups sheds light on other parts of our state’s economy connected to trade - like international tourism.

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Business
3:11 pm
Fri September 28, 2012

Potential longshoremen strike temporarily averted, easing farmers' concerns

Seattle's grain terminal
Joe Mabel

Update: A potential strike by longshoremen in the Pacific Northwest has been temporarily averted, according to a spokesman for the grain terminal operators.  The terminal operators have been trying to reach a new contract with longshoremen at six ports in Washington and Oregon.

Pat McCormick of the Pacific Northwest Grain Handlers' Association, which represents the terminal operators, says the two sides have agreed to continue talks into mid-October even though the contract expires this Sunday.

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Business
11:19 am
Wed September 26, 2012

Boeing responds to fear that some retirees could lose medical coverage

Boeing’s proposal to SPEEA has language that suggests the company could drop coverage for people who have already retired.
The Associated Press

Some Boeing retirees fear they could be in danger of losing their medical coverage under a new contract the company has proposed to its engineers' union, SPEEA.

Update 9-26 – Boeing sent out the following response this morning by email: "Boeing has no plans to eliminate retiree medical benefits for current retirees. If we’d had the opportunity to discuss our proposal with the union, we could have clarified that we did not intend to change the status quo with respect to retiree medical benefits. Regrettably, SPEEA has chosen to sensationalize the issue and cause unnecessary concern."

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Business
8:39 am
Tue September 25, 2012

What NBA teams are likely candidates to move to Seattle?

Could the Milwaukee Bucks become the new Seattle SuperSonics?
IsoSports

Now that the Seattle City Council has given the green light for a $490 million NBA arena, investor Chris Hansen has to find a team to play there.  We know Seattle's not getting the Lakers or the Heat. So which teams are likely prospects to move here?

Kurt Badenhausen, who covers the business of sports for Forbes, recently analyzed the NBA field to come up with a list of possibilities. Top among them is the Sacramento Kings.

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Business
3:02 pm
Thu September 20, 2012

Some Washington counties are struggling with high poverty rates

New figures on poverty from the Census Bureau show big differences between counties in Washington state.

Counties in the Puget Sound region had a lower poverty rate than the nation as a whole in 2011. The rate for counties around Seattle didn’t change much compared with 2010.

It’s a different story in other parts of the state. Franklin County in eastern Washington had a 30 percent poverty rate – twice the national rate.

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Business
7:00 am
Thu September 20, 2012

How do you bankroll a tomato battle in Seattle?

Tomato Battle is a Seattle startup funded with a new form of financing - a "revenue loan"
Ashley Gross KPLU

One of the hardest things about starting a company is getting someone to bankroll your idea. Venture capitalists are only interested in companies they think will have explosive growth, like Google or Amazon in their infancy. And getting a bank loan these days can be tough.

Some pioneering Seattle investors have stepped into that void. They’ve come up with a new way of funding startups, and they’re helping to get some creative companies off the ground. 

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Business
3:51 pm
Tue September 18, 2012

Boeing engineers may engage in a work slowdown, analyst says

Union officials representing the engineers will count votes on Boeing's proposed contract on Oct. 1.
Andrew W. Sieber Flickr

An aviation analyst says some Boeing engineers and technical workers are preparing for a work slowdown amid increasingly contentious contract negotiations. The union, called SPEEA, is telling members to reject Boeing’s offer, saying the raises the company is offering are disrespectful.

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Business
3:43 pm
Thu September 13, 2012

Boeing proposal to engineers likely to be voted down, analyst says

The Associated Press

Boeing has delivered a contract proposal to its engineers, and an analyst says they may be disappointed. The long-awaited proposal offers pay increases that are less than half what the union wanted.

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Business
5:00 am
Wed September 12, 2012

Should Seattle require all landlords to register rental units?

The city of Seattle wants to crack down on problem rental buildings by requiring landlords to register and get inspections of their units. Tenants’ advocates say they’re hopeful the new system will mean fewer people living in unhealthy or dangerous housing.

Jonathan Grant runs the non-profit group Tenants Union of Washington State. He says he hears from tenants all the time about the poor conditions of their apartments.

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NBA Arena
7:51 am
Tue September 11, 2012

New NBA arena deal struck with city of Seattle; council vote still to come

Chris Hansen, the lead investor in the attempted to build a new NBA arena in Seattle, apparently has his deal.
KPLU

Seattle has a new deal for a sports arena to house NBA and NHL teams. If the full council approves the agreement later this month, lead private investor Chris Hansen will then face the possibly tougher job of getting a deal for the teams.

The revised deal has been officially announced by members of the Seattle City Council and addresses concerns by the Port of Seattle and others that traffic generated by events there would clog up the SoDo area.

Seattle councilmembers Sally J. Clark, Tim Burgess and Mike O'Brien made the announcement.

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Business
5:00 am
Mon September 10, 2012

Microsoft urges immigration reform to fill high-skilled jobs

Robert Scoble Flickr

Overall, job growth remains disappointingly slow – the unemployment rate remains stuck above 8 percent. In computer-related fields, though, jobs are going unfilled.

Unemployment in computer and math jobs is a measly 3.4 percent. Companies like Microsoft and Expedia say one remedy is immigration reform, and they’re hopeful Congress will pass a new act to break the logjam.

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