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From 1974 to 2024 and Beyond – 2024 Economic Future Forum

By Gary Ballew, VP of Economic Development, Greater Spokane Inc.

*This story first appeared in the 2023 GSI Connect Magazine, which can found on our About Us page.

Economic Future forum

On June 18, 2024, the Spokane region will host the International Economic Development Council’s (IEDC) Future Forum. This will be the first time in the history of the organization that an IEDC conference is hosted in the Pacific Northwest. The closest prior was a national conference held in Anchorage, though this year Calgary, Alberta hosted the event.

Actually, there have only been a handful of IEDC conferences on the West Coast, more if you count Phoenix, AZ as the west coast. This is likely due to the fact that most traditional economic development occurs east of the Rockies and the west coast relies on, well, being the west coast. When you look at most major economic development announcements they happen in the eastern part of the United States, like Boeing moving manufacturing to South Carolina, Tesla going to Texas and Micron going to upstate New York. That’s changing, and the hosting of the last two Future Forums in the West signifies this shift.

This is actually our second time hosting the conference. Spokane was slated to host in 2021, but due to the response to the Covid pandemic we had to pivot to a virtual format. IEDC asked us if we wanted another shot at hosting in person in 2024 and we jumped at the chance.

Hosting will give our community the opportunity to spotlight Spokane and some of its important milestones such as the Catalyst Building and the 5 Smartest Blocks, the development of the North Bank for sports and entertainment venues, industry growth such as advanced manufacturing in Spokane Valley from the City of Spokane Valley to Coeur D’Alene, and the 50th anniversary of Spokane hosting the World’s Fair, Expo 74.

The anniversary of Expo 74 provides the perfect backdrop to discuss the transformative nature of economic development at the upcoming forum. Economic Development is a transformational practice. Our communities are changed with each business we assist or talent we help to develop. While the transformation is slow and sometimes difficult for those outside the industry to perceive, occasionally, a project creates transformational change that propels a community forward by leaps and bounds. This was Expo 74 for Spokane, leaving its mark not only in Riverfront Park, but also gave root to the University District and the North Bank.

To learn more or get involved in the 2024 IEDC Forum, contact Joey Gunning at jgunning@greaterspokane.org.

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