Fisher offers fix for local economic woes

County must do exactly what it did to lure his firm, he says

By Cami Joner, Columbian retail & real estate reporter

Published:

 

If you go

What: Business luncheon “Building a Company for the 2030 Business Environment.” Ken Fisher, CEO of Fisher Investments, is the keynote speaker.

When: 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, June 7.

Where: Hilton Vancouver Washington, 301 W. Sixth St.

Cost: $35 per person at

http://vancouverwacoc.weblinkconnect.com/CWT/

External/WCPages/WCEvents/EventDetail.aspx?EventID=1943.

California mogul and Forbes columnist Ken Fisher says Clark County can pull itself out of the economic doldrums by doing exactly what it did to bring his company here.

Area business recruiters reached out to Fisher and his $43 billion advisory asset management firm, Fisher Investments, more than five years ago. They extolled the virtues of Clark County’s schools, moderate home prices, and commuter routes that are less congested than in other cities. That convinced him to open a Vancouver satellite office, said Fisher, 60. In November he broke ground on the first of two five-story towers planned for his company’s Camas office complex.

The $30 million campus could become Fisher’s new corporate headquarters. The firm, which employs about 1,155 people — 350 in Vancouver — now is based in Woodside, Calif., with its main operation center in nearby San Mateo.

Fisher, who will offer his business insights as keynote speaker of a June 7 luncheon, said he also found Clark County attractive because Washington does not levy a personal income tax. That alone, he said, could bring more high-paying firms here.

“If I was Clark County, I would send people into California and promote its benefits,” Fisher said during a Wednesday phone interview with The Columbian.

By creating a “sales and marketing arm that makes regular trips to places like the Silicon Valley,” Clark County leaders could reduce the area’s low rate of employment, Fisher added.

“The way for Clark County to get more people employed is to do exactly what it did when it went out of its way to help us.”

Fisher said he will offer tips in his luncheon speech for existing and startup businesses to succeed.

“Today, the world is full of people trying to come up with the next very creative idea,” he said.

Fisher said tech-savvy people should be the top hiring choice for most businesses. The best candidates will understand how to integrate technology into the company’s product line, he said.

“And that’s true whether you’re actually in the business of making consumer products or you’re a bank,” Fisher said.

He does not expect many changes in how businesses will access capital to expand and grow in the future.

“On the one hand, you have the cyclically vibrant venture capital world and the boot-strappers” on the other, said Fisher, who counted himself among the self-financed entrepreneurs.

“People who do that spend money more carefully than people who spend other people’s money,” said Fisher, the author of several books, including, “Debunkery: Learn It, Do It, and Profit from It — Seeing Through Wall Street’s Money-Killing Myths.”

Fisher also believes the call for more alternative forms of energy is overstated. He said fossil fuels, including abundant sources of natural gas, will feed the world’s energy needs over at least the next 20 years.

“Traditional notions of alternative energy are dead-in-the-water dinosaurs,” Fisher said. “Fossil fuel, led by natural gas, is going to lead the world in all kinds of technology fields.”

Although he declined to say who he favors for the U.S. presidency, Fisher predicted Barack Obama will be re-elected, despite the roster of Republican candidates lining up for the job.

“The odds are in his favor,” he said.