Air Date

July 13, 2021

Featured Guest

Rep. Marilyn Strickland
U.S. Representative, U.S. House of Representatives


Neil Bradley
Executive Vice President, Chief Policy Officer, and Head of Strategic Advocacy, U.S. Chamber of Commerce


Freshman congresswoman Marilyn Strickland represents Washington State’s 10th Congressional District. To date, she is the first African-American to represent Washington at a federal level.

Strickland was born and raised in the South Puget Sound and earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Washington. Prior to her election in Congress, Congresswoman Strickland served two terms as the mayor of Tacoma, as well as the president and CEO of the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce.

In a conversation with Neil Bradley, EVP and CPO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and Tom Pierson, president and CEO of Tacoma-Pierce Chamber of Commerce, Strickland shared the importance of job creation, business partnerships, and her goals for the 10th District of Washington.

Strickland’s Leadership Reflects Her Prioritization of Jobs That Provide Individuals With Dignity

During Strickland’s time as Tacoma’s mayor, she placed an emphasis on drawing in investment to spur job creation, stating “we built momentum [with those] who make large public investments to attract private investment.”

“When I think about what a job means to the 10th Congressional District … it is acknowledging that there is dignity in all work,” explained Strickland. “My father served in the military for over two decades and we always had a roof over our head, food on the table, access to healthcare, and comfort in knowing that he and my mother would be retired with dignity. That's not true for too many people. So for me, a job encompasses all of those things.”

Pierson, who has worked with Strickland, confirmed Strickland’s enthusiasm for job creation as a means to success. Pierson explained Strickland worked with those in different leadership positions to create workforce jobs.

“It wasn't about party lines,” said Pierson. “... [these jobs aren’t] Republican or Democrat.”

Success Happens When Large and Small Businesses Work Together

Strickland believes that there shouldn’t be a competition between small and large businesses. In fact, they should work together to bring jobs that provide a living wage, good benefits, and access to a decent retirement to people in the community.

“I really don't like the narrative that paints big business against small business,” said Strickland. “It is a giant ecosystem of public, private, large, medium, and small businesses that all work together. People who work in the public sector are customers that support business. Large businesses often do a lot of procuring and purchasing that benefits small businesses.”

She highlighted the difficulties small businesses face and why it’s important they have support.

“The spirit of trying to run a business is something that requires so much sacrifice ... especially personal financial sacrifice, comes into taking that chance to be a small business owner,” Strickland said.

Goals for Washington Include Diversity and Inclusion in Infrastructure

Strickland stressed she’s trying to make life better for the people she represents by working with other members of Congress, the Chamber of Commerce, and the public and private sectors.

“We are working on a big infrastructure package and as we're talking about making these investments … we have to make sure that [they] benefit everyone,” she said. “We're making sure that the SBA is working with minority- and women-owned businesses so that they can be part of the supply chain and all the things we're going to need to invest in infrastructure.”

This will allow the 10th District of Washington to focus on building an “equitable and inclusive economy,” Strickland said.

Another goal for Strickland is to assist with the housing shortage happening across the Pacific Northwest through The Build More Housing Near Transit Act and using federal funds to incentivize the building community to create more affordable housing.

“If we do not find ways to work with the development community and form public-private partnerships, and start to get more housing online in the permitting world, then we're going to… [be] in a world of hurt,” she said.

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