“Don’t Eat Your Seed Corn”

July 27, 2010

The weeklong Farnborough International Airshow—one of the world’s largest aviation/aerospace events and trade shows—wrapped up this weekend in England. In total, some $47 billion worth of deals were signed during the event.

As you may have heard, there were no Washington state or county officials on hand during the show. While in years past Washington has sent substantial delegations and facilitated meetings and events at the show, this year’s budget constraints kept our leaders and economic development organizations at home. (I should note that Washington did have a booth organized and staffed by Washington’s trade representative for Europe.) Read the rest of this entry »


Aerospace and International

March 1, 2009

I see in this space aerospace and our region’s competitiveness are getting quite a bit of play, as they should. Let me pitch in with the international angle.  As Bill McSherry has pointed out more than once, a large part of our economic success is due to the aerospace industry. That means a large part of our success is due to our friends overseas. That’s because more than 70 percent  of Boeing’s sales are to overseas customers. In addition, there are a number of foreign aerospace companies here, including at least two from France, employing a large number of greater Seattleites.

Two of the big economic stories we are known by, aerospace and international, are linked. They are also linked, as are all our successful economic sectors, by the fact that other people want what we have here. Yes, we have a great aerospace industry, yes our IT industry is amazing and yes, life sciences, agriculture, tourism and clean tech are top notch. But, guess what? Lots of other people around the country and the world want what we have and are eager to compete for it. Which means we must always be in economic competitive shape to retain and build upon our success. If the current economic crisis is teaching us anything it’s that things change, often quickly. This is as true in the Puget Sound area as it is in Shanghai, London, Berlin, Tokyo or Reykjavik.  As Jack Nicholson said in The Departed, “Act accordingly.”