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EDASC Skagit Insight: February 2018

February 2018


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3rd Annual Skagit Ag Summit

EDASC’s Director of Business Retention and Expansion Andrew Miller was recently given the opportunity to provide data and insight regarding the changing face of consumer interest in agriculture and value-added food as well as how those market changes and consumer interests may create economic opportunity for local farms and ag-based businesses at the 3rd Annual Skagit Ag Summit on February 16.

Approximately 120 Skagit County and regional farmers, policy makers, and other ag and food stakeholders gathered at the day-long summit held at the WSU Research Center nestled in the farmlands west of Mount Vernon to hear ideas and to discuss challenges and opportunities related to farming in Skagit County. Miller’s presentation centered on the unique opportunity that Skagit County has to “orient to the opportunity” in terms of creating and telling an “authentic food and farm story” that is consistent with the changing consumer preferences and best practices in food marketing.

He also shared thoughts on how the emerging local food movement has created an alternative “ag of the middle” agronomic framework that sits between global conventional commodity-based production and farmers markets as a model for capturing and keeping more of the consumer dollar in local growers’ hands. This model requires  shared processing infrastructure, logistics, and marketing efforts but is already working for local companies like Skagit Valley Malting and Cairnsprings Mill.

According to Miller, “we live half-way between two of the hottest economies in North America, full of people who want to eat local and want to know more about where their food comes from, how it’s grown and processed, and who ‘their’ farmers are. We often look at the creeping pressures of being so close to urban areas as a threat to the ag and food industry but we also need to be fully aware of and position ourselves for the economic opportunity this proximity can create.” 

This was Miller’s second year presenting at the Skagit Ag Summit. His presentation can be found here on our website.


EDASC’s 2018 Economic Forecast Night Highlights

During the 2018 Economic Forecast Night on February 8, EDASC hosted some 400 business leaders, elected officials, and community members or an outlook on prospects for the Skagit County and world economies in the coming year.

Chris Lawless, Chief Economist at the British Columbia Investment Management Corporation, spoke about economic trends affecting Washington State and by proxy Skagit County. Overall, his outlook on the U.S. economy was positive with no expectations of a recession in 2018. Lawless highlighted speculative excesses surfacing in Bitcoin exchanges and anything to do with blockchain, overvaluations in companies like Tesla, and doubts about the value in markets like marijuana and fintech. The lowering of the corporate tax rate should be a source of growth for U.S. companies, lowering most rates to below or near what Canada currently has.

Rita D. McClenny, President and CEO of the Virginia Tourism Corporation, presented on the successes that the State of Virginia has experienced with its destination marketing activities. Tourism is an important engine for economic growth for Virginia and is growing nationally. According to McClenny, tourists often come back to become residents or business owners. McClenny believes that Skagit County has phenomenal assets and prospects for using tourism as an economic engine and a way to attract workers and businesses to the area.

EDASC thanks all who attended, and particularly the event sponsors, for their support.


Port of Skagit Sells Surplus Property

The Port of Skagit recently sold undeveloped property adjacent to Skagit Regional Airport to truck maker Paccar Inc. The $8.4 million, 121.5-acre sale comprised of approximately 76.5 acres of wetlands and approximately 45 buildable acres. In 1980, the Port sold 240 acres of surplus property to Paccar Inc. for the construction of their truck testing facility. The recent land acquisition brings their total land ownership in Burlington to approximately 365 acres.

Additionally, the Port of Skagit has acquired 123 acres of land for a new industrial park on Bayview Ridge. This new development will include light manufacturing and processing facilities.

The development of new industrial lands will add to the offerings available to businesses looking to locate in Skagit County. This comes at the right time, since the Port of Skagit’s Bayview Business Park is at all-time high occupancy.

EDASC looks forward to businesses taking advantage of what Skagit County and the Port of Skagit have to offer.


EDASC’s Connell Named to State, National Roles on U.S.-Asia Relations

Sean Connell, EDASC’s Director of Business Development and Global Competitiveness, was recently named to roles with two national-level organizations active in U.S.-Asia relations, and at the regional level to the Board of Directors of the Washington State China Relations Council.

His appointments include Senior Fellow of the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Foundation, a leading U.S. organization that promotes understanding and cooperation in U.S.-Asia relations; member of the National Advisory Committees of the Japan-America Student Conference (JASC) and Korea-America Student Conference (KASC), and member of the Board of Directors of the Washington State China Relations Council (WSCRC).

Learn more on our website!


Women’s Funding Alliance Partners with Leadership Skagit

5:30 – 7 PM  – March 28, 2018 – at McIntyre Hall

The EDASC Foundation, which runs the Leadership Skagit program, has been selected as a partner of the Women’s Funding Alliance to produce a special discussion on Wednesday, March 28th.

Local leaders, including Laura Cailloux, Vice President, Skagit Valley College; Shirley Yap, General Manager, Shell Puget Sound Refinery; Laurie Gere, Mayor, City of Anacortes; and Erin Long, President, Soroptimist International of Burlington, will discuss issues such as increasing the number of women engaged in civic leadership, how to raise confident girls who see themselves as leaders, and creating greater economic security for all women.

These issues impact our Skagit community broadly. The WFA and EDASC Foundation encourage the attendance of emerging and current women leaders, their male colleagues, friends, employees and employers, those in public office and community members.

More information can be found here.

Laura Cailloux
Vice President
Skagit Valley College

Shirley Yap
General Manager
Shell Puget Sound Refinery

Laurie Gere
City of Anacortes

Erin Long
Soroptomist International of Burlington

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