Friday, January 8, 2010

Reporter's Notebook

Paul Leonard can be reached at

It takes an entire county to raise the economy

As it turns out, editing a business publication is mostly an indoor job, after all.

One of my New Year’s resolutions is to get out of the office more often, to meet more of our subscribers, readers and members of the Southwest Washington business community – with perhaps a computer with wireless access riding shotgun (iTablet, anyone?).

Though it promises to be the least “green” of all my resolutions – my four-door Nissan gets a mediocre 23 miles-per-gallon – I’m ready to embark on a journey taking me to all four corners of Clark County and beyond.

And it looks like I’m not the only one.

More than a month after meeting with North County mayors, city managers and council members, the Columbia River Economic Development Corp. is hitting the road again, this time to East County.

In a meeting Jan. 19 at Camas Public Library, East County mayors, council members and port commissioners, along with CREDC president Bart Phillips, will gather to continue or at least begin a conversation about a more regionally-integrated focus on economic development.

As the VBJ reported back in November about the possible creation of a North County EDC, there is a persistent feeling in outlying business communities that their interests are being overlooked by Vancouver-based entities.

Whether or not this feeling is more perception than reality, what is clear is that there needs to be much more dialogue between all parties, large and small, as to the course of the region’s economic future.

The stakes for Southwest Washington have never been higher. With growth stalled and recovery in the vital real estate, construction and retail sectors still a glimmer on the horizon, what is needed is a continued push to build on the strength of Clark County’s burgeoning tech sector and to retrain our workforce for the jobs of tomorrow, not just in Vancouver, but in Battle Ground, La Center and Camas, as well.

And with a special legislative session opening Monday in Olympia, as VBJ Publisher John McDonagh writes in this week’s edition here, it’s more important than ever to maintain a unified front to push for our community’s priorities on the state level.

So that’s why I’m moving forward with a reinvigorated push to cover the issues that matter most to our readers, wherever they choose to do business in Southwest Washington.