CWU News

CWU Conference to Look at Trends, Challenges, and Opportunities in State Fruit Industry

Washington’s $10-billion per year fruit industry is the subject of this year’s Economic Outlook Conference (EOC) at Central Washington University. The conference will be held on Wednesday, February 10, from 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., in Sue Lombard Hall in Ellensburg.

Tickets, which includes lunch, are $40 and can be purchased online

The annual conference brings together representatives from the private, public and nonprofit business sectors, as well as students and university faculty.

More than 100 people are expected to attend this year’s 15th annual EOC, presented by the College of Business.

“We’re looking at macro trends in the first session and micro-corporate specific ones in the second,” said Mark Pritchard, College of Business marketing professor.

Derek Sandison, director of the Washington State Department of Agriculture, will address “Trends, Challenges, and Opportunities in Washington State’s Fruit Industry” and will be followed by Jon Devaney, president, Washington State Tree Fruit Association. West Mathison, president of Stemilt Growers Inc.; and Keith Gomes, president and chief executive officer, Tree Top Inc., will then discuss issues and opportunities their respective companies face.

“These presentations will be invaluable—especially for our students—as they get to hear about one of our region’s most important industries,” Pritchard added.

A luncheon presentation by Steven Lerch, executive director of the Washington State Revenue and Forecast Council, will look at the tree fruit industry’s sway on the state’s economy, and review the effect on the industry of labor costs, burgeoning national and international competition, increased regulations, and extreme weather.

According to the Washington State Department of Agriculture, the tree fruit industry includes 5,000 growers and contributes nearly $10 billion to Washington’s economy annually.

The CWU conference is supported by Puget Sound Energy and Tree Top, Inc. CWU business students can attend for free, if they register by February 8. 

Media contact: Robert Lowery, director of Radio Services and Integrated Communications, 509-963-1487,

February 2, 2016