The President’s Pen is a weekly blog written by Jonathan Smith, New Vision’s President and CEO about local economic development projects and initiatives. It also covers economic trends, workforce issues, business climate policies, and manufacturing news.
Note: the following is the Chairman's Message from our 2011 Annual Report. To view the entire report, click here.
Our organization enjoyed a great year in 2011 as we continued moving in new directions to diversify the regional economy. Our mix of old and new economic development strategies is producing results and moving our community in the right direction.
New Vision's business attraction efforts produced interest and dividends for our area. We joined partners from Spokane and Moses Lake on sales trips to Vancouver B.C. and the Los Angeles area. Our team connected with over a dozen prospect businesses in these cities and several companies are promising leads at this point. Additionally, we talked with 25 site selectors about Yakima County, effectively planting seeds with these business location advisors about opportunities in our area. New Vision staff also responded in more detail to 28 businesses considering new facilities in the Yakima Valley. Peninsula Packaging is one of the companies we encountered along the way and we are excited that they are now operating in Yakima.
It was exciting to see our organization's local business development efforts bear fruit. New Vision's tangibly supported emerging businesses through our Enterprise Challenge business plan contest. In its second year the contest is a growing success. We had more contestants, more sponsors, and our new educational format helped ensure that every participating entrepreneur benefited from the contest. In addition New Vision mounted an Entrepreneurial Friendly Cities initiative where we helped Grandview, Sunnyside, Zillah and Tieton implement strategies to support small business in their communities.
Our office also helped established companies by organizing several seminars to develop their key employees' supervisory skills. Developing leaders at the shop floor level is a big issue for local industry; we had to double the number of supervisory classes we offered based on company demand. New Vision staff also provided tailored assistance to specific companies like Adventurer RV and Milt's Gourmet BBQ pellets. These businesses are growing their operations and adding to local payrolls.
Another way we tangibly support local business is through our talent attraction efforts. By maintaining a website (www.liveyakimavalley.com) for new or prospective residents, hosting welcome receptions, and linking newcomers up with local ambassadors we are helping local employers attract technical and professional employees to the area. As part of this initiative we were pleased to produce a video series featuring new residents touting our great lifestyle. These clips stream from our website and send a clear message to new or prospective residents that they are welcome in our Valley.
New Vision saw a significant increase in business development activity towards the end of the year and hope it is a sign that the economy is doing better. We feel fortunate that our Valley has weathered the recession reasonably well compared to many other areas of the country. At the same time, however, it is going to take a lot of hard work to ensure Yakima County regains and sustains its economic momentum. Trust our organization to throw our energy and passion into growing our Valley economy. We love the challenge and are confident that with your ongoing support New Vision will continue to make an economic difference for our region.