Friday, March 26, 2010

Reporter's Notebook

Paul Leonard can be reached at

A brave new business world

Maybe it was the fish tacos from Beaches Restaurant & Bar. Or the beer.

Whatever it was, there was no mistaking the celebratory air at GVCC’s No Business After Hours, which held its largest gathering to date this week at Christensen Shipyards in Vancouver.

Looking around at the hundreds of Vancouverites, Battle Ground residents and Washougalians (O.K., I might be making that one up, but I’m open to alternate suggestions from East County readers), I got the distinct impression of witnessing a group of people who had been through a defining event – akin to a natural disaster, world war or four years of college – and somehow made it through the other side.

And indeed most, if not all, of them had.

There’s been plenty of bad news crossing the pages of the VBJ and most other newspapers lately – with more to come, surely. But set adrift in a sea of Southwest Washington business people actively NOT networking with one another at Christensen, one got the feeling that we’d finally turned a corner, that the future was something other than a thing filled with dread.

So was it with a conscious sense of irony that GVCC president and CEO Kim Capeloto, board members and staff held the first event in this brave new business world at a place where ships are made? Or that caused up to 1,700 GVCC members and guests to show up, many of them waiting for an economic flood to lift all boats?

Maybe it was just coincidence. But as I stood in Christensen’s cavernous facility with my taco and my beer, talking with several attendees about VBJ’s forthcoming Business Growth Awards (for which we are still taking submissions, found here), it felt like something else.

It just felt right.