by Brent Grening, CEO

Infrastructure is a word people like to throw around. It sounds smart and techy. But dropping the word in conversation isn’t enough.

Getting infrastructure right is critical. Healthy, vibrant, sustainable communities need modern infrastructure including water, sewer, transportation, power and natural gas systems, and increasingly – high speed, digital communications. If we expand “infrastructure” to include public facilities, we can add local schools, a north county Clark College campus and WSU-Vancouver’s proposed Life Sciences building to the list of necessary infrastructure for our community.

In this newsletter we’ve introduced the idea of our metro area as a knowledge capital. It’s a way of saying that knowledge, research and technology is driving our regional and local economy. As our population and economy grows, financing and building infrastructure will be challenging.

Some say we can slow growth by not building new infrastructure, i.e., schools and roads. The flaw in this strategy is that over-subscribed schools and congested roads have negative impacts on public safety, educational performance and worker productivity. Once these problems take root, private investment and job creation typically suffer. Economic opportunities can be permanently lost, and after-the-fact fixes are often more expensive.

High-quality infrastructure builds high-quality communities and high-performance economies.

The Ridgefield School District’s commitment to premier education is on point: educated people drive the information economy. The port’s commitment to building state-of-the-art broadband technology speaks to our commitment to building a robust economy and taxbase – making infrastructure more affordable.

We can build a high-quality community if we manage growth properly to ensure our infrastructure meets the needs and potential of the people who live and work here.