In Opinion

By Kevin Witte

The world is rapidly becoming more and more
complex, technical, interlinked and competitive.
Technology is moving ahead at an unprecedented
pace. Innovating to keep up with this pace of
change has become mission critical as a key
component of economic development and often
means the difference between success and failure
for companies.


“Digital [technology] is the main reason just over half the companies on the
Fortune 500 have disappeared since 2000.”

While all of these technologies are potential
threats and disruptors, they are also the key to
unlocking new opportunities for economic and
personal growth—as well as addressing emerging
community needs such as:

• Cost and energy efficient facilities with a low
carbon footprint
• Expansion of high-speed, high- capacity
broadband to enable Smart Infrastructure &
reduce commuting need
• Projects that create a better and more inclusive
standard of living

Innovation is the way we harness technological
change for economic growth; it has long been the
single-largest economic driver in the United States.

“Economists have calculated that approximately 50% of the U.S.
annual GDP growth is attributed to increases in innovation.”

As business cycles shorten and product/services
time-to-market decreases, those not innovating will
be at a competitive disadvantage. Yet despite the
importance of innovation, most companies struggle
with how to undertake it. Many require innovation
assistance and need help developing a workforce
with current skills. The hyper-pace of technology
change requires a more focused approach to
developing innovation in our communities, in our
workers and in our businesses.

“84% of surveyed executives feel innovation is key to their business
strategy, but only 6% feel they are executing well on innovation.”

As a developing and dynamic part of the
Southwest Washington Region, what can we do
as a community to enhance our quality of life by
becoming a hub of innovation? If I could have my
wish list it would be:

• Expose K-12 students to active learning in
technology early in their education. (please vote
yes on the next school levy)
• Keep our incumbent workforce up-skilled with
short term training on key technology
• Build an understanding of technology and
innovation in our community
• Create a center for innovation where we can
pilot technologies and learn as a community
• Provide our businesses with approachable
help on how to innovate, implement new

Kevin Witte is a corporate leader in
strategic planning and marketing, most recently
serving as the Vice President of Economic
& Community Development at Clark

Prior to that Witte served as director of the Worldwide Imaging
and Printing Group (IPG) Go-To-Market (GTM)
Talent & Development organization for Hewlett-Packard.
In that role, he led a global team that developed the talents of the
6,800 employees who delivered $24 billion in revenue annually.

Witte has been a resident of Vancouver for over 25 years.


Start typing and press Enter to search