Are We Ready?
by Brent Grening, CEO
Our regional economy is humming in many sectors. The most prosperous sectors, such as high-tech, education, health care and other knowledge-based industries hum in the Portland-Metro Area. These industries fuel the global economy.
So how can we ensure that Ridgefield and the Discovery Corridor are positioned to retain, grow and attract companies like these? Do we have the right environment and tools to entice these kinds of businesses and the talent necessary to work in these industries – industries that bring higher-paying, environmentally-clean jobs? Are we ready?
We think the answer is: Almost, but not quite.
With our outstanding school district, a top educational research facility in WSU – Vancouver, a progressive, excellence-focused partner in Clark College, an effective working relationship between the city and Port of Ridgefield, we have a great deal. But what’s missing?
We continue the drum beat that we need modern infrastructure to build a modern community – one that’s attractive to the kinds of businesses mentioned above. Whether these businesses are mature or start-ups, we need to serve up the ability for these businesses to connect to the regional economy. Our clogged highways put a kink in our ability to connect, as does the absence of high-speed data transfer capacity. Today, to be competitive globally, information needs to move at the speed of light – and in the Discovery Corridor – it doesn’t yet.
To ensure our community and its people can flourish economically, our port will continue its effort to secure funding to develop broadband infrastructure. We will also continue encouraging our state and federal leadership to make progress on a Columbia River Bridge replacement to reduce the I-5 congestion that prevents Clark County from being a predicable drive from downtown Portland and all points north and south.
Why? Because “almost” isn’t good enough to compete today. We must be ready.