March 9, 2023

The EDB is out there

Conferences, summits and trade shows are where a lot of the economic development magic happens. With the return of in-person events, EDB staff members have been making the rounds (and are making plans) to connect, network, share and learn the latest.

2023 South Sound Technology Conference

After a two-year hiatus, nearly 100 professionals, industry experts, faculty and students came together on the University of Washington Tacoma campus Jan. 27 for a day dedicated to tech. EDB Vice President of Business Development Tamsin Bell co-chaired this year’s conference with Andrew Fry, UW Tacoma SET Director of Industry Partnerships.

“There is so much innovation and so many ideas coming out of the South Sound,” Bell said. “The conference truly raises the profile of Pierce County as place for tech.”

Bell’s takeaways from the conference:

  • Inclusivity is critical as we invest in the future of the tech industry. She paraphrased comments from Congressman Derek Kilmer, one of this year’s honorary conference chairs: “We will not be competitive if our best players are left out.”
  • As tech responds to climate change, Pierce County entrepreneurs are taking leadership roles to create impactful solutions.
  • The South Sound community continues to increase its support of new businesses and foster a framework of excellence to make Pierce County a place of accessible entrepreneurship for all.

International Economic Development Council (IEDC) Leadership Summit

The EDB joined economic development leaders from across the world Jan. 29-31 in Tucson, Arizona. With a focus on “Equitable Recovery for a Sustainable Future,” the 2023 summit explored industry trends and the partnerships and strategies needed to grow, diversify, and retain companies in established and emerging industries.

“The IEDC Summit is a great way for economic developers to stay at the forefront of our profession,” said EDB Vice President for Business Development Sarah Bonds. “The event featured collaborative sessions led by industry experts, reputable keynote speakers, and best practices shared by our counterparts from across the country.”

A highpoint was presentation of the Site Selector Guild’s State of Site Selection survey. The primary research study identifies top trends in 2023 that impact facility decision-making processes in the U.S. and globally. Topping the list for office projects:

  • Workforce/Labor availability
  • Supply chain and logistics
  • Remote or hybrid workplace models

Industrial projects are primarily affected by workforce shortages and supply chain/logistics issues. The shortage of industrial sites that have utility infrastructure in place is also a concern.

Some specific takeaways from the survey:

  • Access to talent is the most important global factor in locations decisions but remains a higher priority for tech, R&D, services centers and data centers.
  • Remote and hybrid work models are not going away; these new workplace models have caused an excess of office space.
  • Consultants and economic development organizations are struggling to balance the desire for large projects and the requests for small to mid-size projects.
  • DEI initiatives positively impact the ability to attract and retain talent.

Pacific Northwest Aerospace Alliance 2023 Annual Conference

PNAA ADVANCE/2023, held Feb. 6-9 in Lynwood, Washington, brought together hundreds of aerospace professionals representing more than 350 companies. The EDB was there to learn of the latest industry advancements and interact with industry leaders.

“It was a pleasure to see so many individuals from the aerospace supply chain industry come together to network, learn and share their experiences and insights,” said Maddie Merton, EDB Vice President of Business Retention and Expansion.

Merton’s top takeaways from the conference:

  • Supply chain bottlenecks and workforce attraction are a top concern for executives.
  • Suppliers continue to make inroads into emerging markets, including space manufacturing.
  • Focus is on research and development and investment in technologies for sustainable aviation and decarbonization of aircraft, particularly around green hydrogen fuels.
  • Diversification! Diversification! Diversification! Companies need to evaluate their customer base.

The EDB is making plans for two other major events:

  • Site Selectors Guild Annual Conference, March 29-31, San Antonio, Texas. This annual event is a forum for knowledge sharing, interactive exchange of ideas and networking among Guild members, economic developers, and investment promotion professionals from around the world.
  • Paris Air Show, June 19-25. The EDB will once again be part of a Pierce County delegation at the largest event dedication to aviation and the space industry. This year marks the 54th edition of the air show, which is expected to attract nearly 140,000 trade visitors.

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