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PNREC Current and Future Challenges

As PNREC looks to the future, it shares a number of challenges with CABE and its regional chapters. In no particular order of importance, these include:

The volunteer spirit: PNREC relies on a new group of volunteers to organize the annual conference in a different city each year. With about 10 preferred locations for the conference in the region, and the conference returning frequently every four or five years to major centres such as Seattle and Portland, fatigue can set in among local organizing committees. Of course, this sharply boost conference costs and fees.

Affordability and fund raising: PNREC has had a policy of keeping registration fees low, recently in the $375 U.S. range for the two-day conference. This adds fund-raising and seeking corporate sponsorships of speakers, meals and coffee breaks to the tasks of each local organizing committee. As a result, some board members have been concerned that this could compromise the conference’s integrity. To the credit of PNREC’s corporate sponsors, few have ever demanded much, other than deserved recognition for their generosity. PNREC recognizes support through placement of corporate logos on the program and banners in the conference rooms and acknowledgements at plenary sessions.

Keeping the momentum going between conferences: PNREC’s raison d'être is to put on an annual conference. Participants are widely scattered around the region, with few opportunities to network between conferences. This has led to debate on the next question...

Should PNREC be a membership organization? The PNREC board debated this issue and decided against it in 2000. Most thought that it would add additional complexity and require additional volunteer efforts to organize and manage.

State/provincial budget cycles affect attendance: Throughout its history, PNREC attendance from its key audience of academics and bureaucrats has ebbed when economies have turned down and budgets have been tightened.

Making PNREC relevant: As in Canada, the economics department in private sector U.S. firms is fast disappearing. They were once key participants in the conference and their firms were often generous financial and in-kind supporters. PNREC faces the challenge of finding de facto economics practitioners in corporate finance, strategy, marketing and planning departments and convincing them it has something relevant to offer.

The virtual world: The Internet's explosion in the mid-1990s has made huge amounts of information available at people’s fingertips. As a result, many question the value of conference’s when presentations and speeches can be downloaded to tiny, portable electronic devices and be browsed at one’s convenience. This has no doubt put downward pressure on conference attendance. The reason people still attend conferences is that there still no substitute for face-to-face interaction and discussion.

Canadian participation: PNREC has made many efforts to attract Canadian delegates and speakers, with Gus Mattersdorff offering strong support over the years. Despite his and others’ efforts, this has had limited success other than when the conference has been held in Canada. Of course, as in the case of private sector economists, there is a chicken-and-egg element to this, as Canadians are only attracted when there is sufficient content to interest them.

Student participation: PNREC has long sought to attract student delegates, offering low student registration fees and encouraging academics to publicize the conference to their students.
The background of PNREC | The history of PNREC


PNREC 2023 features four keynote speakers, 17 panel sessions, and the regional economic outlook session.


Walla Walla regional economy bus tour

Would you like to learn more about the regional economy in Walla Walla? This year, we are pleased to offer an optional regional economy bus tour on May 8. The tour features a catered lunch at Pepper Bridge Winery, a guided tour of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation’s Chinook Hatchery, and a guided tour of College Cellars of Walla Walla. It is a great opportunity to connect with colleagues and learn more about the region during a beautiful time of the year!

The bus departs from the Marcus Whitman Hotel at 11:00am and returns at 5:30pm.

Secure your seat when registering for the conference. If you’ve already registered, or wish to buy a ticket for a friend, no problem! We have a “bus tour only” option open as well. The cost per person is $125. Participants must be 21 or older.

Register at

2023 PNREC Keynote Speakers Announced: