Opinion: Advanced Manufacturing Center Will Grow, Protect Jobs

By Brent Grening, CEO

When it comes to economic development, recent years have been good. Ridgefield and SW Washington have prospered, yet business and economic cycles ebb and flow. For the Port, a healthy economic time is the right time to ensure our economic structure is sound. It’s always a good idea to put something away for leaner times, because the work we do is bringing good jobs to north county that are in diverse, growth-oriented sectors.

As we invest in our community, we pay attention to business and economic trends, opportunities and threats – in the short-term we look at things from an economic standpoint; in the longer term  we look more structurally. In our view, long-term economic health is based on good infrastructure, talented people, a healthy livable environment and the x-factor: our ability to adapt to change.

To adapt to a changing economic environment, it’s necessary to have strong community leader- ship, clear vision and great partners. Automation, advanced manufacturing, machine learning and advanced materials promise to profoundly  disrupt the workplace in the medium to long-terms. To prepare for that inevitability, our port is working with Clark College to jump-start its new Boschma Farms campus – where the goal is to create a skills training center around advanced manufacturing. Together the College and the Port want to begin preparing our local employee talent for new technologies so they remain relevant in a changing economic landscape and are well-employed through lean times that may come our way.

The Port’s support of education, broadband connectivity and economic opportunity is designed to build a more resilient economy and community. We can’t stop the ebb and flow of the economy at- large, but we can and do work to create economic stability – so that the people in our port district can thrive now and well into the future.