The conference was held May 21-23, 2012 in Grand Teton National Park.
The implementation of the General Agreement on Tariff and Trade (GATT) through the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 1993 set off a global economic boom lifting the wealth of many nations. With oil at bargain prices, freight was a negligible cost which made a plethora of products available to almost anyone from anywhere. One of the unintended consequences was that without cost barriers to trade many jobs were moved from high to low wage countries like China, which forced American workers to compete directly with overseas labor, thus lowering wages or putting them out of work. Lifestyles were maintained through borrowing money until the financial house of cards collapsed in 2008.
The purpose of this conference was to explore various ways we can take advantage of our regional resources to create or enhance businesses and jobs to make our economy more resilient and to dampen the effects of economic cycles.
The tri-state area of Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming, with a population of over 3 million, has a total Gross Regional Product of $130 billion. Most important sectors are Resource Extraction ($14.8b), Manufacturing ($9.6b), Health Care ($9.6b), Tourism and Recreation (~5.0b), and agriculture/ranching ($4.5b).
We are fortunate to have inspirational landscapes, productive soils, reliable water and energy resources, and abundant fish and wildlife at our doorsteps. These resources are the basis of our prosperity, and it behooves us to manage them in a way that meets the needs of the present without compromising future generations’ ability to meet their own needs.