We all wish we could look into a crystal ball and see what the future brings, especially for our region’s economy. At Avista, we need to know what our customers’ needs will be 5, 10, or even 15 years down the road. There’s no crystal ball, so we use data and research to help inform decision makers and forecast our own economic climate so that we can continue to serve the same low-cost, reliable power to customers that we’ve provided for the last 125 years.
Leading the way is our Chief Economist, Dr. Grant Forsyth. From both a company and community standpoint, Grant is widely recognized as the resident expert when it comes to providing data that helps internal and external leaders make informed research-based decisions that benefit all of us.
Within Avista, Grant spends much of his time running statistical models to forecast energy load, which helps plan for future energy needs. He also serves as a consultant on special projects, where his research background as a Ph.D. and an Eastern Washington University professor of economics for more than a decade, make him a perfect fit for Avista.
“At Avista, people reach out to me for empirical data for special projects,” Grant said. “For example, we had somebody in health and safety that needed an analysis of languages spoken in our service territory. With my academic research background, I knew where to go to get the data and maintain the database for them.”
Grant’s teaching experience also serves an external purpose in his position: public speaking. Any given day, he speaks to local and regional groups of 5 to 500 or more. He keynotes events like Greater Spokane Inc.’s Annual Economic Forecast, meets with local business groups and community leaders, and serves on a variety of local and state economic councils, including the Governor’s Council of Economic Advisors and the Spokane Mayor’s Council on Economic Vitality .
“I’m a resource for both businesses and the general public,” Grant said. “I often get inquiries about economic issues or what unemployment numbers are telling us. I have a lot of data and research at my fingertips, so I try my best to explain what the numbers mean rather than taking a position one way or the other.”
Well-versed in the economics locally and nationally, Grant is originally from Ellensburg, Wash., but has lived and worked in both the United States and Europe.
Cool fact: Grant worked in the Czech Republic from 1996 to 1999 during a time when the country was transitioning from one political and economic system to another.
Watch this Blog for future entries from Grant himself about the economics of our region.