A person familiar to many in Clark County,
Kevin Witte, a longtime Vancouver resident, was named in October as vice president innovation and development for the Port of Ridgefield. Additionally, Witte will be the managing director for the port’s latest economic development initiative, a center of innovation called the IT3 Discovery Center (see related article in Winter 2021 PortWorks). Witte most recently served as vice president of economic & community development at Clark College.
Prior to his position at Clark College, Witte was Hewlett-Packard’s director of the Worldwide Imaging and Printing Group Go-To-Market Talent & Development organization, leading a global team that developed the talents of 6,800 employees.
In the new roles, Witte’s work will encompass continued port efforts to bring tenants to its properties, forward its broadband dark fiber deployment and secure support and funding for the IT3 Discovery Center. The center will help stimulate technology-based education within the K-12 environment, provide current and prospective employees advanced training in Industry 4.0 skills, create a trained, relevant workforce pipeline for employers; generate new, skills-dependent, family wage jobs, and provide technology and innovation consulting to companies. Based on similar center models with which Witte is knowledgeable, IT3 is expected to attract new businesses to the Discovery Corridor and the greater Southwest Washington region.
“Economists have calculated that approximately
50% of the U.S. annual GDP growth is attributed
to increases in innovation,” Witte said. “If we don’t
find a way to help our companies adapt to compete
in this environment, our businesses will be left
Port CEO Brent Grening said his many conversations with Witte over the years led to the idea of an innovation center.
“I’ve been talking with Kevin about this for the last four years,” Grening said. “And from that came the idea, a significant amount of due diligence and ultimately moving ahead on the development of the IT3 Discovery Center.”
Grening noted the vast amount of relevant experience Witte brings to this role with the port.
“Kevin has a vision, connections, experience and knowledge in this arena; he can successfully engage with kids on this subject as well as business owners and policy makers,” Grening said. “This all works to make him the right person for the economic development opportunity IT3 brings to our region.”
Witte is excited about working with the Port of Ridgefield and the Ridgefield community.
“Considering the fast pace of growth here, Ridgefield and the Discovery Corridor are in a position to build the future this community wants.” Witte said. “And the Port of Ridgefield,” he added, “is willing to lean in to change, creating new economic development activities that ensure it brings lasting, positive change enhancing Ridgefield’s and Southwest Washington’s quality of life.”
In addition to his professional life, Witte volunteers locally. He currently serves as the chair of non-profit Bridgeview Housing, which works to break intergenerational poverty cycles, and is a board member for Southwest Washington Accountable Community of Health (SWACH), a nonprofit organization working on Medicaid reform for a three-county region. He’s married to Christine, a CPA. Together they have two adult children.
For more information contact the Port of Ridgefield or Kevin Witte by calling 360.887.3873.