Past Expo Events

2016 Regional Economic Forecast & Innovation Expo

The Thurston EDC hosted its annual Regional Economic Forecast & Innovation Expo on Thursday, December 10  at Great Wolf Lodge. A crowd of over 350 attendees gathered from Thurston, Lewis, Mason, Pacific, & Grays Harbor counties to hear economist and keynote speaker Dr. Bill Conerly to give a global, national, and five-county region forecast.

The event was focused on regional innovation and best practices and provided information on current trends and analysis of the region’s economic environment. The Thurston EDC rolled out its sixth edition of the Thurston Economic Vitality Index.

Keynote Address

Courtesy of Conerly Consulting:

Conerly_2010_3-2Dr. Bill Conerly connects the dots between the economy and business decisions. He has the unique combination of a Ph.D. in economics from Duke University and over 30 years’ experience helping companies adapt to changing economic conditions. He was formerly Senior Vice President at First Interstate Bank and held positions in economics and corporate planning at two Fortune 500 corporations. Dr. Conerly was awarded the Chartered Financial Analyst designation in 1999.

Companies have used Dr. Conerly’s expertise to help with decisions regarding capital expenditures, inventory levels, expansion into new markets, pricing, business models and financial structure. As a diagnostician, he sometimes identifies opportunities and challenges that require additional expertise, at which times he recommends a colleague to help his client.

Dr. Conerly is an on-line contributor to Forbes and the author of Businomics, a book about economics for business leaders.  He is co-author of Thinking Economics, a multi-media high school economics curriculum used in 34 states.

He has been interviewed on the News Hour with Jim Lehrer, CNN and local television and radio stations across the country.  He has been quoted in the Wall Street JournalFortune Magazine, and USA Today.

Dr. Conerly is chairman of the board of Cascade Policy Institute, a member of Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber’s Council of Economic Advisors, and a Senior Fellow at the National Center for Policy Analysis.

He is a member of:

American Economics Association
National Association for Business Economics (past chapter president)
Institute of Management Consultants
National Speakers Association (past chapter president)

Dr. Bill Conerly’s Economic Forecast

Setting the Stage for Innovation: Congressman Denny Heck

On November 6th, 2012, the residents of Washington’s new 10th Congressional District elected Denny Heck to be the district’s first member of the United States House of Representatives. In the decade prior to his election to Congress, Congressman Heck successfully grew several small businesses in Washington State. One of those small businesses, which specializes in workplace education, was started in Olympia with only two employees. Today it employs more than 300 people throughout the United States and has continued to grow in recent years. Congressman Heck is a native Washingtonian and graduated from The Evergreen State College in 1973. He has been married for 39 years to Paula Fruci Heck, an educator who began her career as a teacher and retired as principal at Jefferson Middle School in Olympia. He and Paula have lived in Olympia for 30 years. They have two sons, Bob and Trey, and recently became grandparents of Maleah, born December 30, 2014.

A Video Message from Congressman Denny Heck

Data Polling: Jason Robertson

Jason Robertson is Principal of J Robertson and Company, a public involvement, community visioning and economic development practice based in Olympia. Jason has worked with more than 100 clients throughout the western US since the mid-1990s. His community planning projects have been honored by the International Association for Public Participation, League of Oregon Cities, Puget Sound Regional Council, US Forest Service, City and County Communication Manager’s Association and Washington State Smart Communities Program. Jason earned his Master’s Degree in Community and Regional Planning as a University of Oregon Peace Corps Fellow.

Data Polling: Cheryl Fambles

Cheryl was named CEO of Pacific Mountain Workforce Development Council on June 1, 2012. Prior to her position at PacMtn, she was the executive director of the Washington Workforce Association. Cheryl has held senior management positions in local governments, including Thurston County, the City of Issaquah, King County and the Skokomish Tribal Nation. She worked in higher education at The Evergreen State College and South Puget Sound Community College, and also has served as a private organizational consultant on multiple projects throughout the region. She has a master’s degree in public administration from City University of New York. She is also a graduate of the Senior Executives in Government Program, Harvard University – JFK School of Public Service and received her undergraduate degree from The Evergreen State College. A graduate of Yelm High School, Fambles lives in Olympia with her husband.

Marketing the Region: Robb Zerr

A Washington native, Robb has been a corporate communications, marketing and advertising professional since 1981, working with a prestigious roster of national and international clients in technology, healthcare, retail, consulting, education, tourism and manufacturing. An awardwinning writer and consultant, he has worked extensively in the areas of strategic communication planning, branding, marketing plan development, social media, copywriting, web design and crisis management. In his spare time, Robb is a tortured novelist, professional entertainer and a wishful world traveler, deciding at one time to visit an entire alphabet of exotic islands (having only made it to A, B, C, F, G, H, I, J, K, M, P, R, S and V so far). He graduated from the University of Washington with a BA in journalism. Before joining the Department of Commerce he owned and operated CommuniCreations, a Washington State creative services agency for 20 years.

2015 EVI Panel Presentation

2015 Regional EVI Presentation

2015 Breakout Sessions

Economic Development and Tourism – A Transformational Partnership

Speakers: Jeff Wilson, Seabrook Director of Group Sales, Seabrook, WA; Fred Wright, General Manager, The Ridge Motorsports Park, Shelton, WA; Shauna Stewart, Executive Director, Visit Olympia, Lacey, Tumwater, Olympia, WA

Facilitator: Dru Garson, CEO, Greater Grays Harbor, Inc.

With many activities and attractions located along the route to the Washington Coast, Olympic National Park, and along the I-5 corridor, the visitor industry currently plays an important role in the economic health and prosperity of our region. Several major tourism development projects have emerged within the past five years that are appealing to specific niche target markets and have positively impacted many communities. This breakout session will explore the relationship between tourism product development and its effect on local economies and the role that destination marketing organizations play in encouraging and promoting tourism and economic development.

Data Mining for Entrepreneurs: Learn How to Use Timberland Regional Library’s Business Resources and Services

Speaker/facilitator: Cheryl Heywood, Timberland Regional Library

Need to write a business plan, learn more about your competitors, expand your business, or keep up-to-date in your industry? Join TRL Library Director Cheryl Heywood for an interactive data mining session to discover how the library’s no-cost business resources and wide range of services can help your business thrive!

Minimum Living Wage: A Discussion of Short and Long Term Effects

Speakers: Bob Battles, Director of Government Affairs, Association of Washington Business; Chris Green, Vice President, Economic Development Board for Tacoma-Pierce County; Samantha Louderback, Local Government Coordinator, Washington Restaurant Association

Facilitator: Matt Matayoshi, Executive Director, Lewis County EDC

One of the critical pillars of any business model is the workforce that supports the operations and development of the company. In Washington State during the last several years, the debate of minimum wage standards being set by local governments is increasingly becoming a topic that is on many community members and organization’s agendas. This panel discussion is designed to provide the participants with a discussion about the data trends, employment implications, and impacts of the intended and unintended consequences of setting a minimum wage locally at $15/hour.

Demand Driven Workforce Development for the 21st Century

Speakers: Cheryl Fambles, PacMtn Workforce Development Council CEO; Dale Peinecke, Commissioner of the Washington State Employment Security Department

Facilitator: Paul Philpot, Executive Director Pacific County EDC

Congress recently passed the Workforce Investment and Opportunity Act (WIOA) which requires regional and workforce development agencies to create training and assistance based on employer-defined needs and priorities. The ultimate goal is to develop a pipeline of qualified workers to support local industry performance growth. Join us to learn more about the new

WorkSource Job Match System, powered by

Small Business Innovation Panel

The world is changing at an accelerating pace as new technologies are discovered, developed, released and adopted by consumers faster than ever before. While game changing innovation is hard, no business survives over the long term without reinventing itself. Innovation is that tool to make significant positive change in any environment and reflect continuous improvement. This is a high bar, and it should be.

2015 presentations and materials:

A video message from Congressman Denny Heck

2015 Regional EVI presentation

Dr. Bill Conerly’s economic forecast