Live chat with WSUV faculty about local economy

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Washington State University Vancouver faculty; Jane Cote, Tom Tripp, Debbe Sanders, Brian McTier, Brian Routh, and Michael Rabby joined Columbian.com readers to discuss the local economy, tax regulations, social media outlets, and future employment opportunities. The faculty panelist covered expert advice in; finance, taxes, digital technology, accounting, management, and business.

Tune in next week when we chat with The Humane Society of Southwest Washington at 12.p.m on April 20, 2012. We will chat about their organizations, local events, and potential volunteer opportunities.

Live chat transcript April 13, 2012:

Setareh Alizadeh: Hello everyone to today's live chat. Washington State University Vancouver faculty will be joining us shortly to chat about the local economy and how it has affected out lives. To all of our readers, if you have any questions or comments to start us off today please send them in!

Michael Rabby: Hi

Tom Tripp: Hi Michael!

Brian McTier: Hi

Jane Cote: Hi All

Setareh Alizadeh: Hello everyone! we will wait a few more minutes for everyone to join before we get started

John Hadley: Hello

Setareh Alizadeh: Hello John, thank you for joining us today

Paris Achen: Hi everyone. This is Paris Achen, staff writer with The Columbian. I will be taking notes. :-)

John Hadley: I look forward to learning.

John Hill: Hello everyone. This is John Hill, senior database reporter for The Columbian.

Debbe Sanders: Hi

Michael Rabby: Hello

Paris Achen : Hi Debbe. Do you prefer "Debbe" or "Debra"?

Debbe Sanders: I prefer Debbe

Brian Routh: Hi all

Paris Achen: Hi John Hadley, Are you one of our readers?

Setareh Alizadeh: To all of our panelist, please introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about what you do at the university and what field(s) you cover

Debbe Sanders: Debbe - Tax

Brian Routh: My name is Brian and I teach accounting.

Jane Cote: Jane Cote - I'm an accounting professor and the director for the College of Business.

Tom Tripp: My specialty is management, particularly the psychology of workplace conflict. I teach courses in leadership skills and in negotiation skills.

Brian McTier: Hi, Finance

Michael Rabby: I'm Michael Rabby, and I teach social media in the Creative Media and Digital Culture program

Setareh Alizadeh : A few points were made at the Economy at Breakfast forum January 2012

-Place: Changes to Where We Live, Work and Shop” will examine changing property values and what it means for owners and occupants of commercial and residential real estate.

-“Jobs of the Future” will look into which job sectors are growing, which are shrinking, and which industries Clark County should recruit.

-“Connections: Infrastructure that Underpins the Economy” examines how industrial land, roads, rail, the river and our electric grid are meeting the needs of business today — and where we need to improve.

Which of these do you feel is most important to our local economy?

Debbe Sanders: With respect to property values, as the values go down the rate of taxes goes up because the same amount of taxes needs to be raised.

Tom Tripp: They're all important. But if we don't repair our road infrastructure, then sooner or later a bridge failure will have huge local impact.

Brian Routh: My property value continues to decline but my taxes actually have increased due to the district that I live in.

John Hadley: I am an environmental engineer relocating to Clark County in several months.

Michael Rabby: Jobs of the future, as that is how you will keep and attract young folks there

Brian McTier: Jobs of the future is important as it determines the influx of new residents and whether native residents remain.

Jane Cote: All of these are important facets of building our local economy. Having a thriving job market is critical for attracting people and business organizations to clark county. Without living wage jobs, much of what we might be able to accomplish will not be possible.

Paris Achen: Tom, there was a story this morning on the Washington Post's website about more workers quitting their jobs. We've seen it at The Columbian. Do you feel that's a good economic sign? If so, why do you think surveys still indicate many Americans feel we're still in a recession?

Tom Tripp: Yes, workers quitting is a sign of an improving labor market. For last the last few years, many people could not afford or risk quitting jobs they hated. Now they can.

Tom Tripp: As to why people still feel we're in a recession, I can speculate. I suppose part of it is that improvement is not coming rapidly enough. Rapid change is easier to see than slow change.

Jane Cote: Here at WSU I've seen the number of applicants per posted posted position remain higher than I've seen in the recent past. That would indicate that while some people are quitting their jobs, many are still looking.

Yashar Shayan: What are the jobs of the future? If you're a student right now building college debt, what should you be majoring in to ensure that when your graduate you will have a solid career?

Jane Cote: Well as an accounting professor, all firms need accountants and we've seen here that this job market is fairly recession resistant. Other fields such as health care, engineering are also good areas to consider careers.

Setareh Alizadeh: Michael, as the digital age builds, is there a good future for Creative Media and Digital Culture students?

Michael Rabby: Mobile apps. New modes of marketing (e.g., social). Creative jobs are more important in a world where folks are interchangeable/globalized. Our DTC majors have a high rate of post-college hiring, though I don't have the exact figure on me. Clean tech hasn't panned out as we were told, but I still think it has potential.

Brian McTier: Job growth in banking and financial markets should strengthen as the economy recovers.

Jane Cote: One other thing to consider is that having good skills in math, communication and technology will always serve you well.

Tom Tripp: Great question. Always pick a job that love to do. Do what you love, and the money (enough of it) will usually follow. You may not get rich, but you won't need as much money to offset a job you hate. As to the future, don't pick a job that machine can eventually do. It used to be mostly that labor jobs were being done more and more by machines, but now it's service jobs too (any one remember travel agents?) and increasing jobs that require judgment.

Brian Routh: As a recent graduate, I know that building debt can be discouraging. Students more than ever have to do their research to ensure they pick a path that they will not only enjoy but that will remain stable. Technology is not going away that knowing how to effective use computers and the software is highly valued.

Michael Rabby: I am a big believer in entrepreneurialism as an area of emphasis for students, and I believe we are instilling that in them.

Brian Routh: I believe that our students graduate with the skills to be successful in any field of choice and that they are competitive in any market.

Michael Rabby: We are starting to see the DTC students fan out around the country (one just got hired by the science museum in Phoenix). The trick is now to keep them here.

Setareh Alizadeh : Brian, you mentioned 'when the economy recovers', do you beleive in the next few years this could be a possibility?

Jane Cote: That gets back to creating attractive jobs here in Vancouver and Clark County to keep our talented young people here.

Brian McTier: Yes. The stock market is a leading indicator possibly correlated with economic activity two quarters forward.

Jane Cote: Low mortgage interest rates are helpful in assisting an economic recovery.

Michael Rabby: And to my knowledge Jane, there isn't any sort of incubator in Vancouver.

Jane Cote: No, but there are lots of discussions about finding ways to incubate new ideas here. The CREDC is working to generate ideas. Pub Talk is a place where there are lots of entrepreneurs with great ideas looking for venture capital. We just need to figure out how to attract the money to the great ideas.

Setareh Alizadeh : can you describe what CREDC is ?

Jane Cote: The CREDC is the Columbia River Economic Development Commission and they are on the forefront of assisting with regional economic development.

Brian McTier: At some point, as businesses run with fewer employees, small increases in demand will lead to disproportionately larger increases in new hiring.

Setareh Alizadeh: What are your thoughts about the Business and Occupation taxation for small businesses, some suggest it should be based off of net profit

Debbe Sanders: There are a lot of problems with using net profit. It can be manipulated more easily. The B&O tax takes into consideration the different profit margins by assigning different rates. A tax based on gross revenues can be tied to what is reported on federal returns and thus makes it easy to audit.

Setareh Alizadeh: will we be seeing more small businesses emerge?

Jane Cote: Yes - as the economy remains stalled, starting a new business is a way to create a job for yourself.

Setareh Alizadeh: With the new buzz about the Buffet rule - will this truly be beneficial for our countries economy?

Brian McTier: Our culture promotes small business formation. The successful small business develops into the Apples of tomorrow.

Michael Rabby: I often bring in folks from the community who have started their own companies to talk to my classes as a way of getting students thinking outside of the ways that we academics preach. For tech companies, most successful ones were started by young folks, often when they were still in college.

Tom Tripp: From what I've read, the Buffet rule won't generate enough new revenue to significantly shrink the deficit. However, it may make people happier as they believe wealth distribution becomes more fair.

Michael Rabby: My goal would be a scrupulous Mark Zuckerberg!

Jane Cote: And when people perceive the tax system is fair, they are less likely to cheat. And that is where we might see big changes in new revenue.

John Hill: How has social media changed the jobs landscape? There's a lot of talk about developing one's personal brand via blogging, Linked In, Twitter, Facebook, etc. Thoughts, advice to others on this front?

Debbe Sanders: The tax gap has been increasing and is likely due to views that the tax system is unfair. Helping people see that taxes are paid by those with more income makes the taxes seem more fair.

Tom Tripp: I'm aware of many people promoting social media to develop one's personal brand, but I have not yet seen evidence (either way) that it helps much. I have seen a few anecdotes that it helps sole-proprietor businesses cheaply advertise their business.

Michael Rabby: The biggest problem I have seen (which has diminished over the past two years), is that people who don't know much about social media are the ones hiring in it, making the process a bit more blind. People are learning what it entails, and aren't doing silly things such as hiring based on the number of Twitter followers. As for the job search, it is more public than it has ever been, which is good and bad. Even when you are employed, you have to think of using your social media presence as the branding for an "organization of one."

Yashar Shayan: Debbe, you mentioned manipulation. We've heard about Bernie Madoff, Enron, Bank of America "Robo Signing". Do you (or other panelists) have thoughts on how financial fraud and misinformation in business (small or large) affects the economy and its ability to bounce back?

Brian Routh: Social media should be a way of promotion ... I don't think it s a viable "career" choice.

Michael Rabby: I read anecdotes of LinkedIn leading to jobs, but have never actually known any personally. I use it mostly as a Rolodex. Twitter is the best SM for establishing yourself as a thought leader.

Michael Rabby: I would disagree with Brian on it as a viable career choice (I think it is). But it should not be the only skill in ones tool box. Really, it should be something everyone knows. Jobs are evolving, and while SM jobs haven't peaked, I do worry that it is too trendy.

Jane Cote: I know of one major corporation who was changing their strategy and business models based on what their competitors were doing and how profitable they were. Come to find out the financials were purposefully manipulated. This corporation almost made some major structural changes that would have caused severe problems in the future. This is just one example of the problems with misinformation.

John Hill: Thanks for the thoughts on social media. I actually do know people who've made careers from it, but it's arguably still a fledgling niche and the pay varies wildly depending on which industry you're in and the title one has, ie, coordinator vs VP of social strategy.

Adam Borden: I find it interesting that some say economic recovery for small business lies in giving tax breaks to the top 5% and removing regulations. Is there truth to this? Or are small businesses more tied to the strength of the middle class?

Debbe Sanders: Due to the these frauds, regulations increase and this adds to the costs of businesses. While this may increase the jobs in businesses that monitor complying with the regulations, these costs are substantial for the businesses.

Tom Tripp: The evidence is clear that tax cuts to corporations don't lead to more jobs. Indeed, witness now the many corporations hoarding cash and not hiring. To me, this illustrates that it's not a simply a matter that if they had more money they could afford to hire more people.

Michael Rabby: I like tax cuts/breaks gong to small businesses/start-ups as opposed to corporations. Much better for job creation.

Brian McTier: Not all regulation is necessarily bad. Nobel laureate Akerlof argued in "The market for lemons" that certain markets would become dysfunctional absent regulation, e.g. lemon laws in the used car market.

Jane Cote: Depends on how the tax cut is structured. If it's structured to encourage investment, then you see a positive and multiplying effect.

Debbe Sanders: The tax incentives to small businesses allow them to get on their feet and help businesses to compete in the very growing world market.

Setareh Alizadeh : With the last few minutes, words to the wise? Things we can look for in the future for our economy? What technologies we should indulge ourselves into? or any other last minute thoughts?

Jane Cote: Keeping an individual’s debt load low is one way to survive a down economy.

Debbe Sanders: Tax policy (increasing or decreasing) are not the solution to the economic problems.

Tom Tripp: Read widely about the economy, looking for statistical evidence, and avoid pundits. Nobody is an expert in everything.

Michael Rabby: I still think there is a market for a social media site that makes privacy a paramount part of its business model (as opposed to "sharing"), though saturation of different networks is a problem (I have been too busy to play with Pinterest, for example...). And its impact on companies is here to stay. Read Einstein's Bagel's Facebook page if you want a good sense of how people in Portland perceive them.

Setareh Alizadeh: A special thank you to our entire panelist today!!

Thank you to all our readers for joining us. Tune in next week at 12pm when the Humane Society of Southwest Washington joins us to chat about their organization and upcoming events

Michael Rabby: Thanks!

John Hill: Thanks everyone!

Jane Cote: Thanks for inviting us Setareh. This was fun.

Setareh Alizadeh: Until next time, thank you again to all that participated. Have a great Friday and a wonderful weekend!