Friday, July 10, 2009

Reporter's Notebook

- Steve McDonagh can be contacted at


I was perusing CNN’s 2008 list of the Top 100 places to “Live and Launch.” Not lunch – San Francisco would win that one hands down! Rather, it is a listing of the best places to live and start and/or grow a business.

These entrepreneurs are the men and women with the vision and courage to go out there and start a business they believe in. Most are small businesses, those who collectively employ the bulk of your neighbors and pay the biggest share of the taxes.

So I was thinking, why isn’t Vancouver on this list? Bellevue was No. 1, and it is subject to the same arcane state B & O tax we are, its home prices and cost of living are higher and traffic is much worse. The survey touted Bellevue’s closeness to an airport (PDX is closer to Vancouver than SeaTac is to Bellevue) abundant parks, excellent health care and schools.

We have a multitude of parks and green space, the Columbia River, two state-of-the-art hospitals and ready access to facilities in Portland. A quick check of “Blue Ribbon School” status shows Bellevue had one high school rated in 2003, while Vancouver’s School of Arts and Academics was rated a Blue Ribbon School as a high School, middle school and elementary in 2005. Image Elementary was also a Blue Ribbon School in 2005.

I point this out because I believe Vancouver could and should be in the Top 100. Portland, with all of its problems and burdensome tax ramifications for business, was No. 6.
• Bellingham - No. 27
• Olympia - No. 40
• Spokane - No. 77
• Bend - No. 87
• Eugene - No. 96

Obviously the Northwest was well represented. I’ve been to these cities many times and lived in Spokane for awhile. Vancouver has as much and more to offer to businesses looking for a place to “live and launch.”

During these recessionary times, business owners, start-ups and existing businesses alike are looking for the best place to not only do business but survive and get ready to capitalize on the recovery. Vancouver can and should be that place.

Vancouver and Clark County need to do more to make themselves a known destination and be more welcoming to businesses. We have landed a few nice additions to our business community in the past few years.

But for Vancouver to get its fair share of businesses looking for a place to move to (like all those California businesses that aren’t comfortable operating in a state that is bankrupt) or start a new business, ALL of us need to do our part to not only promote Vancouver as not just a great place to live but a great place to “Live and Launch.”

As one who appears to understand that status quo won’t help us, Bart Phillips, CEO of the Columbia River Economic Development Council, wrote in today’s VBJ, “Failure to recognize and make adjustments in strategic direction could be fatal if not merely unprofitable when the economy recovers.”


Anonymous said...

Send your blog to CNN!