EDC Insights

Jan 14
Economic Development Council

Economic Experts: Strong Forecast for Seattle's Regional Economy in 2016

By Economic Development Council
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Aerospace and Tech Investments Lead Bullish Projections; Leaders Discuss the Future of the Connected Economy and Regional Prosperity at Sold-Out Conference

Seattle, WA (January 14, 2016) – Economic forecasts project 2016 will be another substantial year for both the regional and national economies, according to three experts who presented today at the 44th Annual Economic Forecast Conference. Hosted by the Economic Development Council of Seattle & King County (EDC), this year’s theme—Connected Communities: The Future of the Connected Economy and Building Prosperity Across the Region—provided attendees an exclusive look into our economic future and how our communities will capitalize on unprecedented innovation and collaboration.

Forecasts from Chris Mefford, president and CEO of Community Attributes Inc., Aaron Terrazas, senior economist at Zillow, and Erik Ristuben, chief investment strategist at Russell Investments, painted an overwhelmingly positive economic outlook for the region in 2016 and beyond. Though potential pitfalls do exist, like the region’s susceptibility to fluctuations in international markets due to its strong ties to global trade, the underlying strengths of the regional economy should continue to outweigh these challenges. Critical industries like aerospace and technology that depend on international customers should be confident in their growth prospects.

“I cannot imagine us in a stronger position than we are now to grow both of those industries,” said Mefford. “The outlook for Boeing is tremendous. They have the biggest backlog for airplanes they’ve ever had. A lot could go wrong and it will still be at an all-time high. We have every reason to be as optimistic about the economic future of our region as we ever have.”

Ristuben sees continuity in store for the coming year: “The global economy will continue to grow at the same pace as 2015, about 3 percent of gross domestic product. The global economy will be led again by the major developed economies, particularly the United States, which is expected to continue to grow at the mediocre rate of 2 percent to 2.5 percent. It’s good news, but not great news.”

During the conference, executives from Amazon, Arivale, Community Attributes, Russell Investments, INRIX, Boeing, Brookings Institution, Saltchuk, Microsoft, the King County Labor Council and others engaged in spirited discussions and provided insights and analysis on the potential for Seattle’s economic growth. Panel discussions focused on topics such as technology-driven innovation and collaboration, developments in big data, opportunities for continued and inclusive growth across the region and potential challenges.

The Puget Sound Business Journal’s Executive of the Year Award was presented to Brad Tilden, CEO, Alaska Airlines. Boeing and the City of Auburn were awarded the EDC’s Economic Development Champion Awards for the private and public sectors, respectively.

"King County accounts for almost half of the state’s job growth and more than half of the state’s total payroll -- the equivalent of the gross domestic product of several small nations," said King County Executive Dow Constantine. “Yet even in good times, we must continue to invest in the physical and human infrastructure that will assure continued prosperity for the long term." 

“The Seattle-King County region is home to world-class pioneers of the connected economy. Our home has become a global hub of cloud computing, big data and analytics, software development, life-saving medical breakthroughs, commercial space innovations, and advanced manufacturing,” said Terry Danysh, EDC Board Chair and counsel at Dorsey & Whitney. “As our region’s industry clusters continue to mature, they blend together to create powerful intersections, sparking inventive subsectors, such as sustainable maritime and far-reaching space exploration technology that will have a global impact for years to come.”

 A rare keynote address from Rob Meyerson, president of Blue Origin concluded the event. “Less than two months ago, our New Shepard rocket that was built right here in Kent made history when it became the first to fly to space and return to earth for a vertical landing. We’re focusing our innovative spirit on New Shepard flights, as well as the development of the BE-4, the next great American booster rocket engine. With the resources and talent of our region, we have a very exciting future ahead. Blue Origin is proud to call Washington home.”

“In Auburn, investing in technology infrastructure has been as important to us as our roads and pipes. Technology acts as a catalyst across industries to help grow jobs,” said Nancy Backus, mayor of Auburn and EDC Executive Committee Member. “Whether it’s the latest in advanced manufacturing at Orion, or MultiCare’s cutting-edge research and development partnerships, the infusion of technology has played a key role in Auburn sustaining ten percent job growth for the last three years.”

As the largest forecast event in the Pacific Northwest, the Economic Forecast Conference annually attracts hundreds of regional leaders from the public and private sectors, education institutions, labor and nonprofits interested in learning what lies ahead for the region, and networking with other Northwest community and business leaders. Participants gain insight into the critical economic issues facing our region with forecasts from nationally recognized experts.

As the only public-private economic development partnership including business, labor, government, workforce and education partners, the EDC has been producing results across King County and its 39 cities in business retention, expansion and recruitment, for more than 44 years. The organization does this through a “ground game” of cluster-driven, client-focused economic development. With the support of a growing list of many valued public, private and non-profit investors, in 2015 the EDC helped 25 businesses grow or retain 3,000 jobs and invest more than $400 million in the Seattle-King County region. 

“For 44 years, the EDC has brought together regional thought leaders and nationally recognized economists for the Northwest’s largest economic forecast conference,” said Suzanne Dale Estey, president & CEO of the EDC. “It’s the one event where the public and private sectors—along with education, labor and workforce development—have a chance to hear from experts in a number of fields about our economic future and how our communities will capitalize on unprecedented innovation and collaboration.”

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About the Economic Development Council of Seattle & King County (EDC)

For 44 years, the EDC has provided confidential, free-of-charge consulting services to individual business clients, entrepreneurs, site selection decision makers and consultants working with companies seeking to do business in King County and its 39 cities. As the only public-private economic development partnership encompassing King County, the EDC’s unique value flows from our cluster-driven, client-focused approach to business development and ability to accelerate success by connecting businesses with our private and public partners and the variety of essential economic resources they provide. For more information, visit us online at http://edc-seaking.org/.

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