On Friday (Aug. 23) Washington Business Week celebrated the completion of five successful years in the Baltic Sea port city of Gdynia. Gdynia was the first city to host the Business Week program in Poland.
To commenorate the successful partnership between the Association of Washington Business, Washington Business Week, and city and education leaders, Deputy Mayor Ewa Łowkiel presented AWB President Don C. Brunell and WBW Executive Director Steve McGraw with the city's awards for education and civic accomplishment.
The Poland Business Week program grew out of a sister city relationship between Seattle and Gdynia, a city of 230,000 citizens, the Polish American Chamber of Commerce in Seattle, and Polish students coming to Ellensburg to attend the Washington Business Week program at Central Washington University.
Gdynia Mayor Wojciech Szczurek wanted to give Polish students the same opportunities to experience the rewards of the free enterprise system in Poland. The city officials worked with then WBW executive director Steve Hyer and volunteers including Janice and Allan Jaworski, Darby Vigus (a Monroe High School teacher), Dan Tompkins (Walla Walla CPA), Kathy Reid (Boeing), to help establish the Poland program in Gdynia. Since Poland Week has spred to other cities.
Two years ago, Tompkins started the Advanced Business Week program at Gdynia. It is modeled after the advanced program which he helped establish in Washington. Tompkins, a long-time AWB small business member, is one of many business leaders who give freely of their time to help students in Washington, Alaska and Poland experience running their own business.
Washington Business Week started at the Association of Washington Business in 1976 and over 50,000 students and teachers have graduated for the one-week summer camp.