EDASC's 2019 top ten

Thursday, December 12, 2019

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As we round out 2019, we at EDASC would like to take the time to reflect on a year that saw incredible growth and change. Here is a Top 10 list of our activities for 2019.

1. Business Growth. If there was a theme for the economic landscape of Skagit County for 2019, it was that of business growth. Eddyline Kayaks announced its move and expansion to a larger facility in Burlington to meet increased sales volumes. Aerospace company VT Volant began its expansion plans via a Governor’s Strategic Reserve Fund grant, enabling them to join forces with Chinook Enterprises and new Skagit County company Latitude Aero, an airplane seat manufacturer from North Carolina. LAVLE, new to Skagit in late 2019, grew in Anacortes and is looking at Skagit County for further expansion. Janicki Industries, Skagit County’s largest private employer, opened a new facility in Hamilton. And TRICO Companies near the end of 2019 broke ground on its own expansion plans. Businesses in Skagit County have had an impressive year of growth.

2. Taking Skagit International. EDASC was busy overseas in 2019. From a Korean agriculture export mission, to delegations visiting from France and Norway, to a state maritime and clean technology mission to Norway, Skagit County is on the map statewide and internationally. 2020 will see EDASC working closer with counterpart industries and government in Norway and other countries, particularly in the maritime and clean technology sectors.

3. Helping Small Businesses. EDASC continued its support of small businesses through advising, capacity building and innovative new programs. Service and programs included small-business advising through SBDC and SCORE, expert government procurement and export help through PTAC, and innovative new programs like ScaleUp Business Training and StartUp Sedro-Woolley. In 2020, we’ll be working more closely on employee ownership, co-ops, and small business support ecosystem mapping.

4. EDASC Merger. In 2019, we laid the groundwork for merging EDASC and the EDASC Foundation to become a single 501(c)(3). On Jan. 1, 2020, the merger will become official. The move streamlines EDASC operations and opens the door for new grant funding opportunities. Said EDASC CEO John Sternlicht, “This is better organizational management and we will be able to carry out more programming because we aren’t spending time on duplicative administrative work.”

5. Bennett moving on from Leadership Skagit. This month, Leadership Skagit says goodbye to longtime Program Director Kathryn Bennett. A member of the inaugural class of 2004, Bennett was the first and only paid director the program had known. From 2008 to 2019, Bennett supported Leadership Skagit’s approximately 500 participants, who completed over 80 community projects.

6. Capacity Building. EDASC has worked on capacity building issues in Skagit County on micro and macro levels. We helped hundreds of small businesses in 2019, such as Terramar Brewing in Edison with their business plans and permitting challenges, and we worked on countywide issues like housing, access to child care, and workforce issues. EDASC’s involvement in Skagit STEM Network, apprenticeship programs, career connected learning, and K-16+ helps strengthen our companies and our economy. Our Opportunity Zones workshop brought more attention and expertise to EDASC’s efforts to encourage development in our cities.

7. Maritime. EDASC has focused a great deal on strengthening and promoting Skagit County’s maritime sector. Our efforts began in early 2019 after the approval of the Anacortes Maritime Strategic Plan developed by EDASC, the Port of Anacortes and the City of Anacortes. We have been involved along with Anacortes Mayor Laurie Gere in the Governor’s Maritime Blue cluster. We’ve traveled to Norway to explore maritime and clean technology opportunities and created Skagit County’s own maritime cluster at the first Skagit County Maritime Symposium in November. EDASC will strive to make sure Skagit County’s maritime sector remains strong and continues to grow.

8. EDASC’s growing team. In 2019, we amped up communications to let you know what we’re doing regularly and to discuss important issues and developments in our region. We redesigned the 2020 Skagit Business Guide and our website. EDASC also began taking better advantage of multimedia to share economic development news. This included re-energizing our social media presence and beginning video production. These improvements and more are due to new team members Communications and Community Engagement Specialist Aaron Weinberg and Business Development and Expansion Coordinator Tamsin Bell. In 2019, they joined CEO John Sternlicht, Director of Finance and Administration Audra Ramerman and Program Support Coordinator Sunny Siers. EDASCalso relies heavily on the Small Business Development Center’s Cindy Brooks for her expertise and wisdom.

9. Innovation Partnership Zone. EDASC administers Skagit County’s Innovation Partnership Zone, which focuses on value-added agriculture. The IPZ, based at the Port of Skagit, seeks ways to sustain agriculture by finding new products to market. In 2019, the Genuine Skagit Valley origin mark was created, applying to anything grown or produced primarily in Skagit County. There are now over 50 participants in the program, and the number continues to grow. EDASC is also exploring new value-added crops that will lead to new products for our region.

10. New Investors. EDASC received new investment at all levels in 2019. From small-business supporters to nonprofits supporters to Signature Investors, our strength is our diversity. EDASC was grateful for all new Investors, including new Signature Investors at the Gold Level: Comcast Business, Western Washington University, as well as VT Volant, which announced it would be a Gold Investor for 2020. Thank you, Investors! Your support enables EDASC to continue to be Skagit County’s hub for sustainable and inclusive economic development.

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