Economic Forecast Night features economists, panel of college presidents

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

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ANACORTES – EDASC held its annual Economic Forecast Night Feb. 11, 2020, at the Swinomish Casino & Lodge, featuring talks from expert economists and a panel discussion among four regional college presidents.

About 325 attended the event. Speakers included economists Dr. Laurie Trautman, director of the Western Washington University Border Policy Research Institute, and Dr. Anneliese Vance-Sherman, regional economist for the Employment Security Department.

The panel of regional college presidents consisted of Skagit Valley College President Dr. Thomas Keegan, University of Puget Sound President Dr. Isiaah Crawford, Washington State University Everett Chancellor Dr. Paul Pitre, and Western Washington University President Dr. Sabah Randhawa.

EDASC CEO John Sternlicht kicked off the evening by providing a Skagit County economic development update, highlighting new expansions from Legend Brands, TRICO and Eddyline Kayaks. He also announced Latitude Aero, an aerospace firm based in North Carolina, was opening a new location in Burlington.

He noted that EDASC in 2019 had 82 business attraction contacts and assisted over 400 small-business clients.

Dr. Trautman talked about the continued uncertainty in global trade, noting lasting impacts of trade tensions with Canada and China as global trade growth slowed.

“But I do think that our region is resilient,” she said. “A critical aspect of our resiliency is maintaining strong partnerships, especially with our Canadian neighbors.”

Dr. Vance-Sherman spoke about the economic outlook of the region, saying that employment in Northwest Washington will continue to expand in most industries as the resident population continues to grow.

The panel discussion among college presidents focused on post-secondary education’s role in developing a healthy workforce, particularly regarding liberal arts education versus workforce training and career readiness.

Panelists stressed the importance of both workforce preparedness and a liberal arts education.

“The value of a liberal arts education cannot be overstated,” Dr. Keegan said. “Employers want people with technical skills, but they also want those who can think critically, communicate and be a member of a team.”

EDASC’s new-look Skagit County Business Guide was also unveiled at the event, promoting its investors and detailing EDASC’s work throughout the year.

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