Rebooting NextExec

EDASC Director of Business Retention and Expansion Andrew Miller, shown next to an aerial photograph of the Skagit Valley, will be leading the NextExec class that will focus on business education and developing management skills.

MOUNT VERNON — Steven Dahl, owner of Skagit Aggregates, said he's always been interested in learning how to improve the way he runs his Mount Vernon sand and gravel business.

"I’m 33 years old and I’m running a company with 13 employees,” he said. “I’m looking at anything that can help me out.”

Dahl, along with other Skagit County executives, have signed up for the Economic Development Alliance of Skagit County’s NextExec program. The program, which provides training for local executives, is focused on leadership and management, and includes classes and mentoring.

The program includes one morning class per month. Along with the classes, students will be provided with reading materials and online resources.

The NextExec program has been offered for about four years, but this year’s version has few similarities with previous ones, said EDASC Director of Business Retention and Expansion Andrew Miller.

Previous versions of the program focused more on networking, and included some discussions and site visits, Miller said.

This year’s version focuses on continued business education for those in management or other executive-level positions.

“People tell us they want to continue their professional development, but that we don’t have that in the county,” Miller said. “Why go to Seattle, go to Bellingham or pay for an online program when we can do that in this building, in this area?”

Miller said EDASC has tapped several local business leaders to provide lessons.

“We can bring in those key figures who can talk about specific, meaningful and authentic things,” Miller said. “That’s another fun benefit of this program is that people who participate will find out about all the amazing people we have right in our own neighborhood.”

He said the lessons learned in this type of continued education are important for business owners and executives so they don’t fall behind in the industry.

“If you aren’t revisiting these principles and practices, then you are putting your organization at a disadvantage,” he said.

Dahl, who has participated twice in the NextExec program, said he’s looking forward to the new format.

“I like to get myself out there into things I don’t necessarily know,” he said.

The program includes four quarters, the first focusing on strategy and organization leadership, the second on marketing and communications, the third on finance and human resources, and the fourth on innovation and change management.

Each class runs from 7:30 to 9 a.m. at EDASC headquarters, 204 W. Montgomery St., Mount Vernon. Each class is generally the fourth Tuesday of each month, with the first one set for Jan. 31.

Cost is $500 per employee of an EDASC investor business and $600 for others. Register at

— Reporter Aaron Weinberg: 360-416-2145,,

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