The Hilton Vancouver Washington will play host to the Pacific Northwest Regional Economic Conference May 11-13, where a variety of state and provincial experts will give talks on dozens of issues affecting the U.S. and Canadian region.
The conference is “a place for economists from around the region to share their work,” said Scott Bailey, Southwest Washington’s regional economist with the state Employment Security Department. Bailey is a key organizer of this year’s conference, with help from a board of about 20 economists.
The conference attracts business people, academics and government staff — people who are tracking economic and policy issues. It is not necessarily an academic conference in that in focuses more on policy, Bailey said. About 100 to 120 people usually attend the traveling conference.
Vancouver was chosen for the forum’s 50th anniversary this year after the city hosted the event in 2009 — then setting a record for low attendance due to recession-caused budget cuts.
The conference was started by famed University of Washington economist Charles Tiebout, who died unexpectedly in 1968.
Bailey has been on the board for the event since 2003 and has attended a dozen of the conferences. For himself, Bailey said the sessions inform him about “specialty areas I get to come up to speed on,” such as housing and transportation.
Much has changed in the region’s economy in recent years, and this year’s topics reflect that well.
“I think everything is more critical now,” Bailey said. “Housing wasn’t much of an issue, but now we have a presentation on housing demolition. Energy gets more critical. Transportation and infrastructure are big issues in Vancouver. Increasing inequality has become a huge issue.”
All of those issues and more, including talks on minimum wage, labor markets and natural resources, will be covered at the conference.
Following a welcoming reception the evening of May 11, two daylong sessions May 12 and 13 will feature a number of concurrent panels that look to provide a little something for everyone.
Other than the various talks given by economists, academics and researchers, keynote addresses include:
• Portland economist John Mitchell on “50 years of economic transformation in the Pacific Northwest.”
• Oxford Economics’ Greg Daco on “No recession, but an abundance of risk.”
• Harvard Professor Ed Glaeser on “Technology and the city.”
A state and provincial outlook will close the conference.
Tickets cost $375 for early registration for both days of the conference or $275 per day. Students pay $90 for both or $50 per day.
Visit www.pnrec.org for more information and to view the conference schedule.