Pacific Northwest Economic Region
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The Pacific NorthWest Economic Region (PNWER) is a collaborative regional U.S.-Canadian organization dedicated to addressing common issues and interests like encouraging global economic competitiveness and preserving the natural environment. The Canadian provinces and territories of British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, the Yukon, the Northwest Territories along with the American states of Alaska, Washington, Idaho, Montana and Oregon compose the membership. It is designed to improve cooperation and communication between member jurisdictions as well as improve communication between the public and private sector. PNWER provides the public and private sectors a cross-border forum for unfiltered dialogue that capitalizes upon the synergies between business leaders and elected officials who work to advance the region’s global competitiveness.
PNWER has three program areas: Energy, Homeland Security, and Pacific Northwest Innovation Network.
The Pacific NorthWest Economic Region was established in 1991 by statute in the organization's original seven legislative jurisdictions – Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Alaska in the United States, and British Columbia and Alberta in Canada. The Yukon joined PNWER in 1994, Saskatchewan joined in 2008, and the Northwest Territories joined in 2009. From the beginning, all state and provincial legislators were members of PNWER. The governors and premiers were added to the PNWER governance structure in 1993.
The proposal establishing PNWER passed with 701 out of 703 sitting legislators voting in its favor following a three-year process initiated by the Pacific NorthWest Legislative Leadership Forum (PNLLF) in 1988. Six working groups were established, including environmental technology, tourism, recycling, value-added timber, workforce training, and telecommunications; some of these merged into or were replaced in later years by new areas of concentration. Critical in establishing the initiative to create the PNWER were Washington State Senator Alan Bluechel and Deputy Premier and Minister of Federal and Intergovernmental Affairs for Alberta Jim Horsman. Bluechel served as the organization's first president. Another President was Mel Knight, a former Energy Minister of Alberta.
PNWER incorporated official private sector participation – including the non-elective public sector, and nonprofit organizations and NGOs in 1994; with that, a private sector council mirroring that of the organization's legislative delegate council was established and private and public sector co-chairs became part of the working group structure. Each working group has its agenda set by representatives of the private industries. Since then, funding for PNWER has been balanced by the public and private sector. The organization's current (2010) annual budget is U.S. $1.4 million, up from $900,000 in 2006, with approximately one third coming from state and provincial dues, one third from private sector sponsorship and dues, and one third from public and private grants.
The current president of PNWER is MLA Dan Ashton of British Columbia, elected on 17 July 2016.
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