This fall, the Columbia River Economic Development Council, along with more than 140 private and public partners, will embark on creating a unified economic development plan for Clark County. The front end of this project will involve both formal data collection about our area’s economic conditions, interviews of key stakeholders, and a robust review of existing partner plans. The effort will tell us both what we can do, as well as what we want to do. Our ambitious goal is to bring forward a plan that provides clear and committed guidelines to direct how we invest our limited time and resources over the next few years.
A good plan will also push us in areas that are critical to our future success, but where it may not be easy to find consensus. Most economic development plans track areas where there is already organization and momentum toward a particular goal. A great plan will do this, and also make the case for new, necessary, and bold initiatives that will put the community on a better path than it would otherwise realize. That’s where the hard work comes in. Over the past five years, strong relationships have been built that should help us get through the tough parts. Our community is fortunate to have quality leaders that can build their organizations while keeping the bigger picture in mind.
In terms of economic development, this is truly a historic time to be living and working in Clark County. Multiple significant projects that were originally invested in more than ten years ago are now starting to break ground. The area has received a lot of attention as a great place for businesses to plant roots and grow, as well as being a great place to just hang out and have a beer. We also have significant challenges around aging infrastructure, affordable housing, and funding needs for public services that correspond with this respective growth. We will need to have difficult conversations about how we will remain globally competitive (if that’s what we want), while investing in the services and infrastructure that will lead to continued growth and community development.
The new plan needs to speak as much to La Center as it does to Vancouver. It needs to reflect the value and potential of each of our many great cities and ports. It needs to recognize the role that education and infrastructure play in building the foundation for a successful future. It needs to appropriately assess and leverage our role in the Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro Metropolitan Statistical Area. It should realize the best of what we as a community are and foster the type of economic growth that embodies the true values of our area. I look forward to working with you on building a very important playbook for moving us all in the right direction.
-Mike Bomar, President