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A wide variety of sports events in April has resulted in a record breaking month in terms of sports tourism economic impact in the Wenatchee Valley. With one event still to be verified, sports tourism spending estimates for the month are expected to surpass $1.7 million, breaking the previous record of $1.425 million achieved in May 2015. Economic impact derived from sporting events has been tracked in the Wenatchee Valley since 2007. April activities provided a nice jolt of business to area hoteliers. Events that included youth baseball, ski racing, a state gymnastics meet, men’s softball and the Wenatchee Marathon helped contribute to an estimated 6,300+ room nights, also an all-time high for a single month. The surge is expected to continue throughout much of 2016. The increase of participants in outdoor recreation-related events, combined with a strong presence of existing tournaments/events on the schedule bodes well. Also our sports teams such as the AppleSox, Wild, Rams and Wenatchee FC help create a solid foundation that is most valuable. And that doesn’t even take into account the impact of events generated by our school districts and Wenatchee Valley College.
In keeping with the theme of a strong variety of offerings, this October marks the return of the US Figure Skating Northwest Pacific Regionals for the 2nd time in three years. That spectacle in particular takes us into a different level when looking at the ‘big’ picture. Because of its prestige and the regional media coverage it generates, the Wenatchee Valley receives exposure that is pretty unique for an area our size. Consider that there are only nine such regionals held nationwide.  Other 2016 hosts include the likes of Lansing Michigan, Ogden Utah, Scottsdale Arizona and Plano Texas (hosted by the Dallas Figure Skating Club). It’s pretty heady stuff to be included in that group. But thanks to the outstanding efforts of the Wenatchee Figure Skating Club and having a terrific venue such as Town Toyota Center, we are able to reap the benefits.
Keep in mind the estimates referenced above are only for sports tourism spending on tournaments and events (new money in the area), not local dollars. Nor do they include the estimated millions of dollars generated by those coming here not for races or events, but simply to enjoy our many outdoor recreation-related assets. There is an in-depth, year-long study on the economic impact of outdoor recreation in Chelan & Douglas counties in progress now. This project, spearheaded by the Wenatchee Valley Chamber of Commerce, will provide detailed insight into areas we have been unable to track up to this point in time.

Matt Kearny is coordinator of sports tourism for the Wenatchee Valley Chamber of Commerce and can be reached at 509-662-2116 or matt@wenatchee.org

Mission Ridge Ski and Board Resort has recently garnered national recognition for their Learn to Ski/Snowboard Freedom Pass program.  This week Mission Ridge representatives will be attending the National Ski Area Association (NSAA) conference in Nashville, TN where they are one of only three finalists for the nationwide Conversion Cup award.  The award is given out annually to the ski resort that develops the best product or program geared at attracting newcomers to the sports of skiing and snowboarding and providing them with the opportunity to truly become a “skier” or “snowboarder”.

Mission Ridge’s Freedom Pass program, new for the 2015/16 season, provided unlimited beginner lessons, gear rentals, and beginner terrain access for the entire season for just $129. The Freedom Pass program helped Mission Ridge’s Ski School set an all time record for lessons taught in a single season.  In total, the program provided almost one thousand individuals the opportunity to transition from never having skied or snowboarded to feeling confident in their abilities and excited to explore the more of the mountain and their skills.

“To be one of three finalist out of every ski area in the country is a tremendous honor and really speaks to our staffs dedication and willingness to go the extra mile to share the love we have for skiing and snowboarding with our guests,” said Tony Hickok Mission Ridge’s Marketing Director.  “Being nominated for such an award is an awesome team win for Mission Ridge. It takes everyone giving their all to make a program like the Freedom Pass successful for new skiers and riders.  It really shows what an amazing staff we have here,” continued Hickok.  The award recipient will be announced Friday night and rounding out a dominant central Washington presence will be representatives from Stevens Pass Resort who have also been nominated for the award.  “There is no better place in the country right now to learn to ski and snowboard,” Hickok commented.

The Mission Ridge Ski Area is located in North Central Washington, 12 miles south of Wenatchee.  The resort’s winter operations typically run from early December through early April.   Summer operations center around the Base Area facilities for meetings, weddings and receptions.  The ski area operates in partnership with the USDA Forest Service, Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.  More information about conditions and the resort is available at www.missionridge.com

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Contact: Alan Walker, (509) 929-1083 or alan@uwcdc.org

April 27, 2016

Our Valley What’s Next came close but ultimately was not chosen one of eight finalists in the America’s Best Communities (ABC) competition today in Durham, N.C.

Our Valley did receive a consolation prize of $25,000, however.

“While we did not make the finalist round in the ABC contest, Our Valley What’s Next will continue to develop thanks in no small part to the $50,000 our community partners have given to date, as well as the $25,000 we received today,” said Alan Walker, an Our Valley core team member and executive director of the United Way of Chelan and Douglas Counties. “These partners recognize the value of Our Valley What’s Next and how important it is to the future viability of our communities.”

Chosen as finalists were Chisago Lakes, Minn.; Valley County, Idaho; Statesboro, Ga.; Lake Havasu City, Ariz.; Madison, Ind.; Darrington-Arlington, Wa.; Huntington, W.V.; and Tualatin, Ore.

ABC recognizes communities across the United States that are developing solutions to transform themselves. The competition is sponsored by Frontier Communications, DISH Network, CoBank, and The Weather Channel. The eight finalists each received a
$100,000 grant, which will be used to begin executing their community revitalization strategies.

Our Valley What’s Next presented its revitalization plan before ABC judges earlier in the day. Our Valley presenter Shiloh Schauer, the Wenatchee Valley Chamber of Commerce executive director, spoke of how the community is facing tough challenges
— poverty, high housing costs, wildfires — that are structural in nature.

The key to solving those issues, she said, is greater collaboration between jurisdictions and cultures.
Schauer told the judges that Our Valley What’s Next is the first time the Wenatchee and East Wenatchee areas have planned as a region and the first time there has been significant outreach to the Latino community, which makes up about 30 percent of the overall population.

“If we don’t come together, we’ll fail to create the pathways our citizens need for prosperity,” Schauer said.

She said the goal is to create a backbone organization for Our Valley What’s Next, with support from both the private and public sectors, to drive home the strategies, action items and big projects the group has developed in recent months from community outreach.

In talking with residents, Schauer said she has discovered there is an urgency to act now, in part because people see this as an opportune time to shape the community for years to come.

“We have to be one community with one vision,” she said.

Besides Schauer and Walker, others representing the community in Durham, N.C., were Allison Williams, executive services director for the City of Wenatchee; Lori Barnett, community development director for the City of East Wenatchee; and Lisa Parks, executive director of the Port of Douglas County.

Community leaders have pledged that Our Valley What’s Next will continue regardless of how it fared in the ABC competition. Our Valley is in the middle of Phase II of its community planning initiative. Since late February, six teams made up of about 100 residents have been meeting to vet and develop action items and big projects that address the local economy, education, health care, public safety, arts and culture, diversity, land use, transportation and the environment.

These projects are serving as the underpinnings of Our Valley’s community revitalization plan and will be “owned” by local governments, the business community, nonprofits and community organizations.

OVWN traces its beginning to discussions held by a local economic development roundtable in early 2014, followed by a TEDx conference in Wenatchee that focused on multi-jurisdictional planning and action. The effort — which is overseen by a steering committee made up of business, nonprofit and government leaders — is the first time a planning initiative has been undertaken across multiple jurisdictional boundaries in the area.

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The Wenatchee Valley College Alumni Association is proud to announce that the 2016 WVC Distinguished Alumni Award will be presented to Dillis ‘Dick’ Burgess-Ward III, a 1948 graduate. Ward will be presented the award at the Wenatchee Valley College graduation on Friday, June 10, at the Town Toyota Center.

Ward is being honored for his service in the military, career, dedication to being involved with the WVC Alumni Association and his contributions to the community.

Ward was born and raised in Manson, Wash., and his family were early pioneers to the Pacific Northwest, traveling across the Plains by covered wagon in the 1850’s. His family was very instrumental in establishing the early Seattle territory, including the University of Washington.

Ward joined the U.S. Navy after graduating from high school and served our country during World War II, when he fought on Iwo Jima. After Ward returned from the war, he enrolled at Wenatchee Valley (Junior) College.

Darrell Dickeson, one of Ward’s nominators, said, “He still treasures his year book and graduation program from the eighth graduating class of the college.”

Ward later transferred to Washington State University, where he earned a degree in horticulture, a background he found useful in supporting his family ranch after graduation. Ward then worked at Alcoa for eight years during the construction of the Wenatchee Plant and then went into a business partnership for 30 years at Wenatchee Paint & Glass.

Not only did Ward have a long and successful career as a business owner, he has also dedicated his retirement to helping others. Ward is a member of two Kiwanis Clubs, and he served as the Vice Commander of the Wenatchee American Legion Post 10. He is also very active in his church and makes it a priority to attend WVC functions.

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WVCC alumniWenatchee Valley College enriches North Central Washington by serving educational and cultural needs of communities and residents throughout the service area. The college provides high-quality transfer, liberal arts, professional/technical, basic skills and continuing education for students of diverse ethnic and economic backgrounds. Visit our website, www.wvc.edu

Gwata NomineesWENATCHEE, WA – GWATA, the NCW Technology Alliance hosted the 16th Annual Innovator Awards on March 29th. During the Innovator Awards Luncheon, GWATA presented several awards showcasing entrepreneurship, innovation, and education.

Peoples Bank presented the Entrepreneur of the Year Award to Tumbleweed Shop and Studio. Tumbleweed started as a designer and maker of jewelry aimed at middle market consumers. They started out of their house selling online and now have an e-commerce business in addition to two retail stores, one in Wenatchee and one in Leavenworth. With a jewelry as their base product- Tyler and Jessica Russell have been innovative in their marketing and distribution with a high risk product that is readily available in the marketplace.  One of the many reasons Tumbleweed was selected as Entrepreneur of the Year is because they have been so effective in their innovation and craft, that they now nurture other starting entrepreneurs in how to attain this type of success with out of the box thinking. Several businesses who started as consignment vendors at Tumbleweed now own their own local storefronts.

Jeffers, Danielson, Sonn & Aylward, PS (JDSA Law) presented the Award for Tech Savvy Business of the year to Stemilt Growers. Stemilt produces apples, pears, cherries and summer fruits. This massive fruit business would not be able to handle the shear volume at the speed necessary to maintain quality and competitive pricing without utilizing technology.  As one of the first fruit companies to put money behind research and development Stemilt has taken their operations into the 21st century while still being a family business valuing people and service.  Stemilt was selected as Tech Savvy Business of the Year because their use of technology has enabled them to be a world wide leader in fruit production and grow their business globally.

GWATA presented the award for Innovative Use of Technology in the Classroom to Brian Herling a teacher at Westside High School. Brian bought his first 3D Printer for his classroom with his own money and quickly inspired his students. Later, he applied for a grant and was awarded a new 3D printer that has changed the game in his classroom in terms of what they are able to design and produce in the classroom. A quadruple amputee recently met with Mr. Herling and his team and they have begun to use the 3D printer to design and make a prosthetic hand with fingers for this man.

The Apple STEM Network presented the Future Technology Leader awards to Theo Marshall of Wenatchee High School and Kyle Beattie of Wenatchee Valley College.

Theo Marshall has lead several projects – he’s lead a team to build the schools first Underwater Remotely Operated Vehicle, an “OPENRov” kit. His Junior year, Theo helped to build WHS’s build its First Quad Copter from scratch, building and programming the software for it. Theo’s most recent project has been to create an adaptive device for a Wenatchee High School special needs student who has the job of replacing charged batteries into an electronic kiosk at a local restaurant. She was having difficulty inserting the battery so Theo took on the challenge to come up with an adaptive device.

Kyle Beattie has been working in the biological sciences lab at Wenatchee Valley College. He is working on an independent research project investigating DNA repair mechanisms in an algae model organism this research has required him to be creative about designing and executing experiments and analyzing the data to inform his next steps. Kyle is also a Veteran and is using his military training to save lives every day as an EMT.

GWATA is proud to recognize the 2016 Innovator Award Winners and all of the great nominees. To learn more about the 2016 Innovator Award Winners – watch the videos produced by NCW Life on the GWATA website or Facebook page.

GWATA is a regional organization founded in 2000 to promote a vibrant technology-based economy benefiting the citizens and communities of North Central Washington. GWATA’s mission is to bring people and technology resources together, facilitate tech education, support entrepreneurs, and act a conduit between industry and education.

For the first time in program history the Latino Ag Education Program (LAEP) saw significant female participation. Since its inception, the wine grape industry noticed that female employees were not taking full advantage of LAEP. Wenatchee Valley College (WVC) and WAWGG responded to these concerns by facilitating the development of an all women class to encourage more attendance by women.

Another year of WVC’s LAEP, sponsored by the Washington Association of Wine Grape Growers (WAWGG) and Yakima Valley Community College, kicked off on November 6, 2015 with over 40 students, more than half were women.  For the 2015-2016 school year, LAEP offered both Level 1 and Level 2 classes designed for Latino employees in management or supervisory roles in the field of viticulture.

Francisco Sarmiento and Professor Leo Garcia, faculty at WVC, teach the courses. Sarmiento and Garcia’s cultural, employment, and educational background as well as Spanish fluency allow them to uniquely relate to, serve, and instruct LAEP students.

LAEP is modeled after the Hispanic Orchard Employees Education Program (HOEPP) at WVC, started by Garcia. HOEEP provides instruction on relevant science and technology, applicable English and math, everyday life situations, supervisory skills, and basic computer skills. After seeing the success of HOEPP, WAWGG expressed a desire to work with Garcia to adapt and implement the program to meet the educational needs of wine grower’s employees.  The first LAEP class began in the fall of 2007 and since then LAEP has served over 300 industry employees.

The Level 1 class is taught in Spanish and emphasizes technical English viticulture terminology. The curriculum introduces students to the “whys” of the many production and management practices of wine grapes. The Level 2 class builds on Level 1 utilizing a systems approach of how the industry fits together and how quality starts in the vineyard.

One student said, “It gave me the opportunity to learn and share my knowledge with others around me. I learned so many new things about my job…now, I value my job.” Another commented, “I appreciate what I learned in class because I needed that information to be able to teach my crew members and be a better supervisor.”

WAWGG Board Member Julia Kock said, “LAEP classes are the most meaningful benefit I can provide to my employees. Vineyard work is skilled labor. Educated employees understand why their job is important and are focused on high quality results.”

The goal of LAEP is to enhance professional skills, increase self-confidence, and provide for individual advancement and success within the Latino workforce in the wine grape industry.

In 2016-2017, LAEP will offer a women’s only Level 2 course and a Level 3 course open to men and women.

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Those involved in the world of tourism, be it of the vacation, convention or sports variety, have always struggled with having a major drop-off once the robust periods begin to slow down. Because when that happens, there is a significant ripple effect that impacts a number of sectors in the community, led by lodging, restaurants and to some extent, basic retail. These periods are often referred to as ‘Shoulder Seasons’. In many areas, April is considered to be one of those, when winter activities are dying down, and those fueled by warm weather have yet to kick in. Due to a number of factors, including favorable weather, the Wenatchee Valley hasn’t been affected by downtimes in the 4th month of the year, particularly on weekends, and sports and recreation are the basic reasons why.

Take a look at this year’s schedule: In late March/early April, Mission Ridge plays host to the Western Region Championships, where many top-level skiers from North America and Europe will come here to compete. Some 280 skiers and their entourage will be on hand for 6 days of skiing. The following week, the Triple Crown Baseball Tournament, for ages 9-14, comes to town. Upwards of 130 teams from 4 states will be here, utilizing over 20 baseball diamonds in the area. Most hotel properties have been sold out for months, and many restaurants will be packed for hours on end. Then, the weekend of April 16, the Wenatchee Marathon takes center stage. Last year, the event drew some 1200 participants, with 70% coming from 50+ miles away. And most of them don’t come alone, again putting hotel occupancy at a premium. These three events alone are conservatively estimated to generate an amazing $1.2 million in sports tourism spending. Keep in mind that figure doesn’t include spending by locals.

October is also considered by many areas to be part of a ‘Shoulder Season’. Warm-weather activities have wound down, and winter momentum is a month or so away. But again, sporting events override any downturn. This year in early October, the Wenatchee Valley will be hosting the annual Apple Cup Soccer Tournament, with nearly 90+ youth teams from throughout the Pacific Northwest expected. That’s followed October 19th-23rd by the prestigious US Figure Skating Northwest Pacific Regionals returning to Town Toyota Center for the second time in three years. Besides shining a positive light on the Wenatchee Valley, some significant spending occurs from skaters, their accompaniment and fans. In fact, those two October events will generate an estimated $460,000 in sports tourism economic impact.

‘Shoulder Seasons’ in April and October? Not here!

Matt Kearny is coordinator of sports tourism for the Wenatchee Valley Chamber of Commerce and can be reached at 509-662-2116 or matt@wenatchee.org

The Nonprofit Practices Institute (a partnership of the Community Foundation of NCW and the Icicle Fund) is hosting “The Ultimate Grants Toolkit” – an interactive workshop to guide nonprofit organizations through the grant writing process.

Facilitated by Maryn Boess of Grants USA, this workshop is designed for both new and seasoned grant writers, covering mission-centered grant-seeking, planning, research, and methods for writing a winning proposal. Participants will receive a comprehensive toolkit and reference guide containing all the topics covered during the workshop.

“The Ultimate Grants Toolkit” will be held on Tuesday April 13, 2016 at Pybus Public Market in Wenatchee and Wednesday April 14, 2016 at Aero Methow in Twisp. Both workshops are from 9am to 3pm. Registration is $15 and includes lunch.

Maryn has over 20 years professional experience in the nonprofit sector as a program developer and grant writer. She has garnered over $42 million in grants for her clients and as a grantmaker manages over $1 million a year in competitive grants for teacher training.

For more information on the workshop and to register, visit www.cfncw.org and click on “Nonprofit Practices Institute”.

30anniversarylogo-300x181The Community Foundation of North Central Washington’s mission is to grow, protect, and connect charitable gifts in support of strong communities throughout Chelan, Douglas, and Okanogan counties. Established in 1986, the Community Foundation manages $64 million in assets through 400 individualized funds and has awarded over $35 million in grants and scholarships.

$50,000 Endowment Grant Open to Support One NCW Nonprofit

Deadline May 1, 2016

The Community Foundation of NCW will award one $50,000 Endowment Grant to support sustainability of a nonprofit in Chelan, Douglas, or Okanogan county.

An endowment fund at CFNCW provides a nonprofit agency an annual income disbursement to support its operations while the principal of the fund grows in perpetuity.

The ideal grantee is a well-established, extraordinary organization making a significant impact on the community it serves. The organization must have experienced leadership at both the board and staff level who will use the $50,000 Endowment Grant to move the organization to the next level of expertise.

The application is now open and is due on May 1, 2016. The award will be announced and disbursed in September.

For more information on eligibility requirements, guidelines, and to apply, visit www.cfncw.org/endowmentgrant.

Wenatchee Valley College Foundation Board President Michelle Green and Executive Director Stacey Lockhart proudly accepted two $2,000 gifts for scholarships this week generated by RLS Productions’ Summer Concerts in the Gardens, a five-week long concert series held throughout July and early August at Ohme Gardens.

This is the second year that Robert and Catherine (Rio) Sandidge, founders and owners of the concert series, have presented the WVC Foundation with a contribution in support of WVC students. This year, the WVC Foundation was overjoyed by the additional matching support from Dennis and Beth Dobbs, owners of Horan Estates Winery in Cashmere, Wash.

“An education is an amazing gift,” the Dobbs said. “The WVC Foundation is an asset in our community. We want those opportunities to continue to be available. Our love of music, continued support of our community and the annual scholarships that arise from RLS Productions’ Summer Concerts in the Gardens series made this contribution a natural fit.”

Robert Sandidge said, “As graduates of Wenatchee Valley College, Rio and I both are especially connected to our community college and its programs. We see the need that students have first-hand and are pleased to be able to give back to support students of the educational institution that is so close to our hearts and in our backyard.” Sandidge serves on the WVC Foundation Board of Directors and is active with the WVC Alumni Association.

Bre Hinkle is one of the students to benefit from scholarship funding from the first season of the RLS Concerts in the Gardens, and had an opportunity to work on promotional materials for the concert season as a WVC Graphic Design student in 2014-15. “Receiving the 2014 scholarship made me want to give back and participate in making these scholarships continue to grow, to give more students the boost they need to continue their education and keep following their dreams,” Hinkle said.

Hinkle is now employed in the marketing department at the Town Toyota Center and continues her involvement in the summer concerts as a volunteer and WVC alumna.

Michelle Green, WVC Foundation President said, “The WVC Foundation can’t thank all of the supporters and sponsors of the RLS Productions’ Summer Concerts in the Gardens enough—words can’t express how much their support means to us and we thank everyone who is involved, as a sponsor, a concert ticket holder or a musician who has performed. We can’t wait for 2016!”  Green is an attorney and partner of the law firm Jeffers, Danielson, Sonn & Aylward in Wenatchee and a graduate of Cashmere High School.

National artists dominated the 2015 summer concerts lineup. Robert and Rio Sandidge, with the support of their sponsors and others, established RLS Productions’ Summer Concerts in the Gardens in 2013.

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The WVC Foundation was incorporated in 1971. It exists to build relationships between the community and the college and raise financial support for Wenatchee Valley College students, programs, faculty and staff, as well as special projects such as building campaigns like the Music and Art Center. For information on how to make a gift to the foundation, establish a scholarship or include the WVC Foundation in your estate plans, contact Stacey Lockhart, executive director at 509.682.6410 or slockhart@wvc.edu. Visit the WVC Foundation website at www.wvc.edu/foundation.

 Three goals drive RLS Productions’ Summer Concerts in the Gardens. First, increase mid-week tourism outside a 50-mile radius of Wenatchee Valley and its bedroom communities. Second, lay the foundation for the ability to produce and build a world-class intimate venue at Ohme Gardens, resulting in increased tourism. Third, build a $35,000 scholarship endowment for the Wenatchee Valley College Foundation through an annual contribution of 25 percent of the net ticket sales, while at the same time generating immediate financial assistance for students in need.