BGrening Jan 2014 for OPINIONIf the first half of the year is an indication, 2017 will be the year of smart people, places and things. The convergence of these three elements won’t be a flash-in-the-pan, but will be trending into the future.

Let’s start with smart people. Ridgefield and Vancouver School Districts are making substantial investments in the Discovery Corridor – including VSD’s new iTech Prep high school building at Washington State University-Vancouver. Clark College is working to make its North County campus a reality, and WSU-Vancouver wants to move ahead on planning a new life sciences building. That’s a lot of infrastructure to support creation of smart people; a talent pool for area employers and for growing-our-own entrepreneurs.

Meanwhile, our port’s work with light-ready fiber optic infrastructure creates a path forward to smart infrastructure: Think roads providing real-time data to cars and drivers, helping to move traffic more smoothly. Many communities are already using digital sensors to operate public utilities more efficiently – a way of getting more value for less money.

Then there’s the internet of things or “IoT” – a network of billions of sensing devices that allow for autonomous vehicles and the like. These things are coming. Economically-speaking, smart people, places and things create opportunity.

Local entrepreneurs are now working to create businesses, products and services in this environment. Entrepreneurship and risk-taking are critical elements in growing a local environment that can adapt and create value in a rapidly-changing economy. By supporting local businesses we will build a robust business culture as part of our community development strategy.

The Discovery Corridor is poised to benefit if we understand, pursue and implement systems to develop smart people, places and things.