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News from the Economic Development Alliance of Skagit County

APRIL 2017

EDASC Builds Connections with Global Composite Manufacturers and Researchers at JEC


As part of its business promotion and attraction efforts, EDASC participated in the Washington State delegation to the JEC World Composites Show in Paris, France, from March 14-16. This annual trade show is the most comprehensive international event focused on the complete composites value chain, connecting end-users, researchers, engineers, manufacturers, designers, educators and investors.  Skagit County businesses participating at JEC this year included Janicki Industries and Hexcel. 

Over the course of two and a half days at JEC, John Sternlicht, EDASC CEO, and Sean Connell, Director of Business Recruitment, met with more than 20 businesses, research institutions, and economic development organizations from around the world.  

Read more about the JEC World Composites Show on the EDASC website.

EDASC CEO explores Skagit partnerships in Nantes, France


After the conclusion of the JEC World Composites show in Paris on March 16, EDASC CEO John Sternlicht joined a business delegation from Washington State traveling to Nantes, France, a Seattle sister city two hours southwest of the French capital. Along with Radi Simeonova, Business Development Manager for the WA Department of Commerce, delegates included representatives of the Composite Recycling Technology Center in Port Angeles, and Composite Solutions of Renton. The delegation was accompanied for the day by the Economic and Commercial Attaché of the US Consulate for western France, Eric Beaty.

Nantes and Seattle have a 35-year history as sister cities, and EDASC sought to explore possibilities for partnerships with part of the region that bears the most similarities to Skagit County: a combination of advanced manufacturing, maritime, agriculture and food related industry, and tourism, with similar geography and demographics. The delegation visited various advanced manufacturing companies including Europe Technologies/Oratech, GEBE2, and DAHER, with a final visit to the EMC2 Technocampus for Composites and for Ocean.

Read more about the Nantes delegation on the EDASC website.

Business In Profile: Skagit Farmers Supply
 

Skagit Farmers Supply is a home-grown success story of a cooperative that has sustained our region’s strong agricultural heritage for generations. A resource for commercial growers and rural living enthusiasts, Skagit Farmers Supply provides the goods and services to grow productively in the Pacific Northwest. EDASC recently met with General Manager Tom Boland to learn more about the history and future of this 83-year old cooperative. 

Tell us about Skagit Farmers Supply: 
Skagit Farmers Supply is a cooperative, which means our members own our company. We have farmer producer members who farm in Skagit, Snohomish, Island and Whatcom Counties and other patrons who purchase at our Country Stores or buy fuel and propane from our energy department.  All patrons share in the earnings of the co-op, while our farmer members can also be involved in co-op governance. We support local agriculture with all four of our business units. We have two agronomy plants in Skagit County located in Burlington and Conway. Our energy department delivers fuel and propane and we are a market leader in propane delivery.  We operate 13 Country Store branded retail sites in Washington, Idaho and Montana.  Our fourth business unit is a wholesale distribution and milling department operated out of Spokane.  We also deliver many of the items we sell in our stores to independent dealers and other cooperatives in a seven-state region.

How many employees work here in Skagit County?
We employ 150 out of our 350 employees in Skagit County.

Who are your primary customers?
Each of our business units has a different core customer.  For our agronomy department, we have large-scale farmers fully involved in production agriculture, but we also have an increasing number of rural living enthusiasts that we reach through our agronomy department and our stores. We can offer help in everything from raising animals, installing fences and growing crops. It really is part of the sustainable life that many people are attracted to. Most of our bagged fertilizer is sold in the Hawaii market, and we also sell to Alaska and through our retail and wholesale departments.

Read more about Skagit Farmers Supply on the EDASC website.
Skagit Farmers Supply’s Conway Agronomy Center & the new Burlington Agronomy Center under construction.
April 2017 CEO Corner: Spring in Full Bloom

With the arrival of this year’s beautiful daffodils, and the Tulip Festival fast on their heels, the mind invariably turns to … tourism! There are several reasons why tourism is important to Skagit County. First, and most obviously, the spending that happens when people come here, shop in our stores, eat in our restaurants, sleep in our hotels, visit our attractions, and enjoy our festivals. Second, tourism has a positive impact on both location decisions and demand for Skagit products. 

Research shows that more and more, consumers want to know the provenance of their food, and have more of a “relationship” and proximity with that food and its producers. Moreover, it is important for the preservation of farming to educate more consumers about the realities and needs of farm economies. The agricultural aspects of tourism serve these purposes.

Read the full CEO Corner article on the EDASC website.

Skagit County Economic & Employment Data Update


According to the Washington State Employment Security Department (ESD), Skagit County’s unemployment rate was 6.7% in February 2017 (not seasonally adjusted). This is a decrease from the rate of 7.2% in January 2016, and a decrease of 1 percent from February 2016 unemployment levels. Skagit County’s unemployment remains higher than the state unemployment rate of 4.9% (seasonally adjusted) and national rate of 4.7%. Skagit County’s civilian labor force totaled 58,187 in February 2017, which was a slight decrease from the total of 58, 436 in January. Of this total, non-farm employment totaled 54,282 (not seasonally adjusted), an increase of 43 workers from the previous month but an increase of 1,131 workers from February 2016. More detailed information on current employment in Skagit County is available through ESD, the Northwest Workforce Council, and EDASC's website.

Skagit County In the News


Viva Farms adds more farmland (Skagit Valley Herald)

7 of America's Most Beautiful Tulip Farms (Country Living Magazine)

Gielow Pickles' expansion sets up company for future growth (Skagit Valley Herald)

Climb high above Deception Pass, then savor a German-style beer (Seatte Times)

An old mental institution, and its cemetery, might get a dignifield makeover (Seattle Times)

With daffodils in full bloom and tulips about to pop, Washington Bulb Co. is ready for crowd (Puget Sound Business Journal)
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