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.
Our staff recently attended the Northwest Food Processors' Exposition and Conference in Portland. It's the 101th year the Food Processors' association has organized this rendezvous - and we try to attend this show every year. Food producers are so important to our regional economy - they employ over 3000 people up and down our Valley (see list to the right). The exposition gives us an opportunity to learn about key issues and opportunities impacting this vital local industry. Staff also benefits by attending the trade show and seeing some of the new technologies coming out to support food manufacturers.
The event featured several informative sessions on regulations and public policy. The continued implementation of the Federal Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) has far reaching impacts and big audiences packed into several presentations on this topic. The food processors association also organized sessions on climate change and water policy - these proposed laws and regulations could challenge their members in Washington and Oregon.
Colleda, Jean and I learned about some of Oregon's efforts to implement workforce training initiatives that benefit food processors. Several community colleges are helping train tomorrow's workforce and helping the food industry upgrade skills for incumbent workers. The partnerships between education and industry gave us several solid examples of bridges we could build between our food processors and local schools.
The exhibit hall is always worthwhile as well. It is illuminating and amazing to see the food industry's range of suppliers and producers. You can learn a lot by seeing new energy conserving technologies, various processing equipment and lots of different service providers. The other benefit is seeing lots of Yakima Valley based companies exhibiting at the show. We enjoy visiting with our companies at the show and benefit from learning how this web of suppliers support our food processors.
With the lessons learned at this year's food processing exposition our office in a better position to understand and help our local food producers. We also garner knowledge that helps us respond professionally to prospective food companies interested in our region. Attending the conference this year was great and New Vision congratulates the Northwest Food Processors Association for staging another successful event.