Business news

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

Expedia will relocate its headquarters from its current home in downtown Bellevue to a waterfront campus in Seattle's Interbay neighborhood in late 2018.

Executives for the online travel site announced Thursday they've agreed to pay $228 million to purchase the 40-acre campus currently owned by biotech firm Amgen, which announced its plans to leave Seattle last summer. More than 3,000 employees currently work in Expedia's headquarters.

Ashley Gross / KPLU

U.S. Secretary of Labor Tom Perez is praising Seattle for leading the way by phasing in a $15/hour minimum wage. He appeared at a press conference at a restaurant in the Columbia City neighborhood with Seattle Mayor Ed Murray and other leaders who worked to hike the city's wage floor. 

Perez says Republicans have blocked the president’s efforts to raise the federal minimum wage, which has been stuck at $7.25 an hour since 2009.

But Perez says local and state governments are not waiting around. He says Seattle has set an example for the rest of the country.

Ted S. Warren / AP

For anyone who works in Seattle, earning minimum wage, this week, you get a raise. It’s a first step that will eventually lead to Seattle having one of the highest base wages in the country.

Low wage workers in Seattle will start earning at least $10-an-hour in cash compensation. Patricia Lally, the director of the Office for Civil Rights, which oversees the rollout of the new law, says thousands of post cards have been mailed to businesses explaining what they need to do.

Majority Democrats in the Washington state House have unveiled a proposed two-year, nearly $39 billion state budget and tax package.

Justin Steyer / KPLU

If you’re poor and you live in Washington state, you wind up forking over almost 17 percent of your income in state and local taxes. That’s according to a recent report from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy.

But if you live in, say, Boise or Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, state and local taxes only eat up 8.5 percent of your income.

Bryan Corliss / District Lodge 751 of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers

Washington state is facing an “enormous budget challenge,” according to Gov. Jay Inslee, who has proposed creating a tax on capital gains and another on carbon pollution.

But wait a minute, didn’t lawmakers pass what’s been called the biggest tax break in U.S. history just a year and a half ago? What are we getting in exchange for those tax dollars we’ve chosen not to collect from the aerospace industry?

Over the next five years, Starbucks says it will be opening one new store every six hours around the world. This adds up to 8,000 new stores.The fastest growth is happening in China. The company also predicts India will soon be one of its top five markets.

Courtesy of Starbucks


Starbucks’ C.E.O., Howard Schultz, says it’s time for Americans to start talking about a subject that makes most people very uncomfortable: race. On Friday, there will be an eight page pull-out in USA Today, and in Starbucks’ company owned stores across the U.S.

A TV set depicting a Zombie Apocalypse will go up in Olympia on Tuesday.

The makers of the sci-fi series “Z-nation” are setting up shop at the state capitol to show how many kinds of jobs are involved when film crews come to town. They’re pressing lawmakers to approve more incentives for movie making in Washington state.

"Z-Nation" is filmed in Spokane, but for one day, an apocalyptic set inspired by the show will be in Olympia to demonstrate how many jobs are linked to film work.

minkcy chiu / Picasa

Should berry pickers be paid separately for rest breaks? This is a question before the Washington State Supreme Court tomorrow.

Farm workers are suing Sakuma Brothers Farms, based in Burlington. They say the 10 minutes of break time required every four hours under state law should be paid for outside the money they earn bringing in a harvest of berries.

Laborers who do this work are paid based on the volume they pick, not by the hour. It’s called “piece rate,” and it’s a common way to pay people in agriculture.

Jennifer Wing


The City of Seattle wants to turn a lot owned by a negligent property owner into a city park. The narrow stretch of land is at the corner of 65th and 14th Ave. NE in the Roosevelt neighborhood. It’s owned by Hugh and Martha Sisley. The home is gone and the lot is all grass.

The Sisleys owe the city 3.3 million dollars as the result of decades of housing code violations for their various rental properties. That bill would be reduced if the deed to the vacant lot is transferred to the city.


Ashley Gross / KPLU

Boeing workers facing job cuts are urging state lawmakers to require more from aerospace companies in exchange for tax breaks. The Washington legislature passed a 16-year extension of the tax incentives in 2013 to win Boeing's 777X production line.  

401(k) 2012 / Flickr

Some House Republicans and a couple of Democrats in Olympia have teamed up to try to overhaul the state’s business and occupation tax, arguing that the tax is convoluted and unfair to small business, and the time is right for reform. 

Pike Brewing Company

Television ads might have you believe the only women involved in the beer industry are bikini-clad servers juggling beer steins. This month, women from more than 100 breweries are collaborating to prove them wrong.  

Locally, women brewers worked together on a special batch of beer in Pike Place Market in Seattle.

Ted S. Warren / AP

People who own franchises in Seattle are suing the city, claiming it’s unfair they have to pay workers $15 per hour four years before other businesses have to do the same.  Oral arguments happen Tuesday in U.S. District Court.  

Under Seattle’s $15 wage law, franchise owners are lumped in with large businesses that have more than 500 employees. This is the case even if the franchise only has a few workers. If your business falls into this category, you have three years instead of seven to reach $15 for your base pay.


Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

Environmental groups are suing the Port of Seattle over its decision to let Royal Dutch Shell base part of its Arctic drilling fleet here, arguing the port needed to allow more public involvement and violated two state laws. 

The port last month signed a two-year lease with Foss Maritime, the company that will manage Shell’s drilling fleet here in Seattle at Terminal 5. That terminal has been empty since last summer because the port is planning to overhaul it to allow bigger cargo ships. So this is a temporary use to generate about $13 million. 

Boeing will lay off 319 of its workers in Washington state, the company said.

In a written statement, Boeing said those workers have received a 60-day notice that their layoffs will take effect on April 24.

Boeing did not specify the positions of the affected workers, but said the majority of the workers — “just over 200” — work in its Engineering Operations & Technology division.

Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP Photo

In a candid address to a group of downtown business leaders, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray spoke about the city’s struggles with rising homelessness and a lack of treatment options for people with mental illness. Murray urged all of them to lobby state and federal lawmakers for more funding. 

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

That Starbucks around the corner from your house may be draining your wallet, latte by latte. But if you’re a homeowner, it may be paying off for you in other ways, in the value of your home, for example.

That’s one of the eye-catching findings that two executives of the Seattle-based real estate data firm Zillow reveal in their recent book, "Zillow Talk: The New Rules of Real Estate."

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

Negotiators have agreed to a tentative contract covering West Coast dockworkers, likely ending a protracted labor dispute that has snarled international trade at seaports handling about $1 trillion worth of cargo annually.

Jeff Chiu / AP Photo

Cheryl Shuman is a businesswoman from Los Angeles, a mom and a cancer survivor. She’s also been called the first marketer for marijuana.

“This is a plant that heals a multitude of illnesses. It provides a safer alternative to tobacco, alcohol and pharmaceuticals. And the revenue from this plant has healing properties in that it can heal our economies and create jobs and create revenue for programs that are so desperately needed,” Shuman said.

Shuman is one of the organizers of CannaCon, the world’s largest marijuana trade show where Tommy Chong is a special guest. It’s taking place at Smith Cove convention Center at Seattle’s Pier 91 on Elliott Bay. Two floors of booths display the latest marijuana products used for recreation and cooking and medicinal purposes.

Kevin P. Casey / AP Photo

Speculation has climbed that Boeing might be interested in acquiring the military aircraft unit of rival Northrop Grumman, but Boeing’s chief executive told investors he’s not inclined to make big purchases. 

Boeing and Lockheed Martin have teamed up to try to win a contract from the Pentagon to build new long-range strike bombers. They’re going up against Northrop Grumman.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

The stock market has bounced back from the recession, and philanthropy is climbing along with it. That’s the message from Philanthropy Northwest, a group that tracks grantmaking to nonprofit organizations in the Pacific Northwest. 

"The trend here in Washington, the trend in the Pacific Northwest and the trend nationally are all aligned. Everybody’s feeling very positive," said Jeff Clarke, chief executive of Philanthropy Northwest, a member organization of foundations, corporations and individuals who make charitable grants. "I would say it’s probably the most positive sentiment that I’ve heard since pre-2008."

Walter Siegmund / Wikimedia Commons


The worsening labor dispute at West Coast container ports is causing shippers to search for alternate pathways to and from Asia.

An obvious place to look is the thriving port in Vancouver, B.C., but officials there say they can't absorb much diverted traffic.

Ashley Gross / KPLU

Aviation analyst Richard Aboulafia says there’s a risk that Boeing’s 787 program might never be profitable. That’s because the airplane maker has accumulated $26 billion in production costs that it’s deferred into the future. 

Aboulafia says the total deferred production costs for Boeing’s Dreamliner program will probably climb to $30 billion or so.

He says what we’re seeing with those mounting costs is that employees are alienated after the company waged two contentious battles with its biggest labor unions in the past few years.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

Democratic legislators in Olympia are taking aim at the huge tax incentive package the state passed to win Boeing’s 777X production line. Those tax breaks extend existing preferential rates and amount to $8.7 billion over 15 years. 

Birdy206 / Flickr

The Pacific Maritime Association says it won't have any vessels loaded or unloaded at 29 West Coast ports, including Seattle and Tacoma, this weekend.

The association, which represents port terminal operators, says it doesn’t make sense to keep paying workers engaged in what employers call a months-long work slowdown.

Birdy206 / Flickr

Employers could lock out West Coast dockworkers in as few as five days if the two sides do not reach a new contract.

That warning came Wednesday from the head of a maritime association who is negotiating a new deal with a union representing longshoremen at 29 ports that handle about $1 trillion in trade annually.

Courtesy of Marine Construction Technologies

A technology that emerged from University of Washington research has the potential to make undersea construction less of a headache for wildlife.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

Amazon shares jumped 13 percent in after-hours trading on news that the company returned to profitability in the fourth quarter. Strength in the cloud-computing business was an especially bright spot.

Cloud computing means hiring a company such as Amazon to run your computer system remotely instead of managing all those machines and software in-house.

Amazon and rivals such as Microsoft have been spending a lot to build big computer server farms. In spite of that expense, IDC analyst Al Hilwa says it’s an attractive business for Amazon.