In Opinion

The port’s work on land and infrastructure development, including
broadband deployment – and now the IT3 Discovery Center (see page 2) are
not separate, siloed port projects or assets. Collectively they embody our
long-held strategy to position our community and Southwest Washington for
success in a modern economy – a 21st Century economy or what’s referred
to as the Industry 4.0 economy.

In this new reality, businesses, schools,
healthcare and other industries will be required to move further into the
realm of automation, artificial intelligence and digital operations if they wish
to stay relevant and competitive.

Recent data available (McKinsey Global Survey, July 2020) indicates that in
only eight months, the presence of the coronavirus moved automation efforts
forward as much as seven years, pushing automation advancements – i.e.
working smarter with fewer humans employed – to a frenzied pace. So, while
a few years ago we viewed this as positioning for a future economy, Covid-19
has shifted that “future” economy to NOW. The good news is we’re not caught
flat-footed – we have a community-based solution coming to fruition.
While we’re in the formative stages of the IT3 Discovery Center, we’re out
of the gate and at a dead run to be ready for this new economic phase. Why
is it important? Because the growth of new businesses, up-skilling for new
and existing jobs, and business competitiveness all hinge on Industry 4.0
technologies and preparedness.
There’s no doubt this significant change to the economic landscape
comes with some angst. Even the language of Industry 4.0 is new to many
– including our port staff and commissioners. Resources, information and
collaboration are necessary to help our community make this shift. If you’re
feeling ill-prepared for this big change, understand that you’re not alone,
and local resources will be available to

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