Our friends in Idaho have a great idea that we ought to copy.
After all, mimicking Idaho worked pretty well when we decided to plant more spuds. (Remember Washington Potato Commission's 1975 advertising campaign, "Idaho potatoes grow better in Washington.")
Earlier this month, Idaho Gov. "Butch" Otter signed an executive order creating a commission to identify challenges and opportunities at the Idaho National Laboratory.
According to Otter's office, "The commission's primary focus will be to provide recommendations to the governor on how INL can continue playing an important role in economic growth and energy security."
Their governor is making a run at accentuating his state's positives.
It's a good idea for his Idaho and an even better idea for Washington.
The Department of Energy only has a handful of national laboratories spread across the country. Each is a treasure, not only to its immediate locale, but also to the larger community of state and region.
Scientists and engineers at these premier labs are busy solving an endless array of problems in industry, medicine, energy, security, transportation and more, and inventing the future along the way.
And we have one!
Most people in the Mid-Columbia at least have heard of "the lab" and likely know someone who works there, but very few -- even lab employees -- know all the really cool stuff that goes on out at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.
Outside of the Mid-Columbia we suspect the initials PNNL are highly respected among the scientific community, but not recognizable to the general public.
When you marry the lab with plans for a new energy park and the Mid-Columbia's other assets -- weather, quality of life, transportation system, skilled work force and abundance of available land for industrial use -- you have the potential to be recognized, promoted and sought after around the world.
The Tri-Cities Development Council does a good job at marketing the lab and other Mid-Columbia interests, but the effort could (and should) be more widespread than that.
The Idaho commission includes representatives from state agencies, universities, members of their Legislature, local officials, INL, industry and the public.
Of course, landing new contracts isn't fail-safe.
Idaho successfully lobbied for Areva's new uranium enrichment plant that was also being considered for the Tri-Cities, only to have the French nuclear plant delay the project indefinitely.
And another development, INL announced layoffs this week, as did PNNL.
Everyone is feeling a pinch right now. That is all the more reason to present a united, statewide front when extolling our virtues.
From here, it looks like Idaho has a head start.