By Gary A. White
Nothing worthwhile happens easily or quickly. But, it does happen. A case in point is TRIDEC’s FABREO (Food and Beverage Retention & Expansion Opportunities) program.
One doesn’t have to look far to realize the Tri-Cities is located in the middle of one of the most dynamic food and beverage regions in the world. After all, so I am told, we are the “Wine Capital of Washington State” as well as the “French Fry Capital of the World.”
In 2014 we scratched our collective heads wondering how the industry represented manufacturing overall in Benton and Franklin counties.
In 2013 food and beverage processing accounted for 45 percent of manufacturing companies, 58 percent of manufacturing wages and 68 percent of manufacturing employment in the two county market, according to the Washington State Employment Security Department.
Obviously successful, was there anything TRIDEC could do to help the industry be even more successful? The best way to find out was to talk with the folks.
In 2014, TRIDEC launched the Columbia Basin Food & Beverage Processing Survey, literally visiting 51 beverage and 21 food companies to get a better understanding of the local industry. Based on the survey’s findings, TRIDEC identified seven opportunities the community could address to minimize and maximize advantages:
Two major steps have been accomplished: In 2015 TRIDEC entered into Memorandums of Understanding with the Hong Kong Trade Development Council and the People’s Government of Wulanchabu, Inner Mongolia, China.
It started with simple observation. It proceeded to getting in my pickup truck and hitting the road — often a dusty, rutted road — speaking with 71 people whose passion is food and beverage, the future of the industry and the Tri-Cities’ role in that industry. We took their “opportunities” and shared them with the community. The community, in typical Tri-Cities’ fashion, pulled up its sleeves, went to work and turned those opportunities into reality.
Nothing worthwhile happens easily or quickly. But, at least in the Tri-Cities, it does happen.
[panel title="About Gary A. White:" style="info"]
Gary A. White is the director of business retention and expansion for the Tri-City Development Council, or TRIDEC. Reach him at 509-735-1000, firstname.lastname@example.org.
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