Opinion: Vision and Leadership Deliver Big Day In Modern Port History

By Brent Grening, CEO

To most people, October 9 was just an ordinary day. For port commissioners and staff, however, it will hold a place of significance in the port history

October 9 last year just happened to be a regularly scheduled port commission that delivered on several significant projects and introduced a job training concept the port has been supporting for several years.

First, our Director of Operations, Laurie Olin, announced that the Pioneer Street Rail Overpass project had overcome the last of its many regulatory obstacles, allowing the port to go out for bid on the final phase. This safety-enhancing port project has been nearly 20 years in the making.

We also announced the port’s four-year effort to bring broadband here launched with an installation on the southern end of our port district near WSU-Vancouver and one near the I-5 interchange in Ridgefield so that the port system can serve the Clark College Boschma Farms campus. These initial installments both support higher education with high-speed data capacity – critical for research, training programs and distance education offerings.

And finally, Clark College Foundation CEO Lisa Gibert presented a proposal to bring applied, advanced manufacturing training to Ridgefield. While still pending Clark College approval, port representatives have been working to help articulate the vision of an advanced manufacturing center. The port’s involvement is predicated on our position as a community port: This project, if realized, has the potential to bring state-of-the art manufacturing businesses and jobs to Ridgefield, and would further enhance the Discovery Corridor’s position as a regional hub for higher-education.

These projects, and others in the works, take vision, time, partners and perseverance and most of all – patience. On October 9th three long-standing projects moved forward. It’s exciting when things come together, and we can see a breadth of projects, all designed to meet a specific community need, yet taken together, they are building our community – a place where the whole is truly greater than the sum of its parts.

In other words, these aren’t stand-alone, disconnected projects. They’re part of a greater port strategy designed to set Ridgefield and the Discovery Corridor apart from the pack. These are projects that will yield a top-tier community.