CEO Corner: March 2017

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

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March 2017 CEO Corner

It has been just over a year and a half since I began my happy tenure as CEO of EDASC. During that time, we have set priorities both as the county’s economic development organization (EDO) and as EDASC internally.

Already this year, EDASC has brought an expanded NextExec program, providing our executives the opportunity to advance their professional education locally, with top-level online resources and expert local speakers. This program coordinates well with Leadership Skagit, also a program of the EDASC Foundation, providing leadership development for an enthusiastic contingent of candidates every year. I am continually impressed with the high level of professionalism and accomplishment here in Skagit County.

Having worked to bring together the municipalities, chambers of commerce, and major hoteliers of Skagit County, EDASC will soon coordinate the petition to enact the Tourism Promotion Area that will collect and set aside funds to promote our entire county as a destination for visitors. Creating a destination marketing organization will fill the void left by the absence of a statewide effort, and will strengthen the drawing power of all Skagit destinations. We expect this to be accomplished during the next quarter.

EDASC is also helping the Port of Skagit, Skagit County and all municipalities steer a countywide effort to enable broadband access for all parts of the county. Adequate carrier grade fiber optics these days is as necessary to commerce and economic development as railways and rural electrification were in previous centuries. In rural areas, private carriers do not find it economically feasible to extend this service because it would take too long to recoup their investment. The solution appears to be similar to that employed by the Port of Whitman – a public/private partnership in which the Port builds a dark fiber backbone on which private sector carriers can serve their customers at competitive rates. The Port of Skagit, EDASC, and Skagit County will soon publish a report including information and analysis from various consultants who have performed this work successfully elsewhere, to propose a framework by which all the cities, towns and unincorporated areas can achieve their individual broadband goals and the entire county can benefit from increased bargaining power and economic efficiency.

EDASC’s continuing role of growing and fortifying all important economic sectors extends to our value-added agriculture work, assistance for manufacturers expanding or overcoming hurdles to growth, strategic planning for localities and sectors, and making connections for companies interested in transitioning ownership to new investors who will keep our companies here and growing. In addition, we are marketing our county to international companies interested in what Skagit County has to offer. We could also benefit from establishing sister city or region relationships with areas that share economic, demographic and geographic similarities.

We also continue to work with about a dozen potential projects for expansions and locations here in Skagit County. By diversifying our economic opportunities from business attraction and expansion to value-added agriculture and tourism, and by improving our infrastructure and capacity (particularly through increased broadband coverage), we will craft a more prosperous and sustainable future for our beautiful home and hardworking people.

With warmest regards,

John

Category: CEO Corner