Vancouver Business Journal

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More businesses helped by WSU Vancouver program

More businesses helped by WSU Vancouver program

Since 2011, more than 100 small businesses in the Vancouver area have received c...

Workforce Development: A return to personnel investment

Workforce Development: A return to personnel investment

It is a common reaction to economic downturn: companies understandably tighten t...

Aerospace grant to fuel expansion of Clark College

Aerospace grant to fuel expansion of Clark College

Clark College is growing its presence in the Columbia River Gorge thanks to a st...

Local alliance ready to shape state health care reforms

Local alliance ready to shape state health care reforms

Backed by local industry leaders, members of the Southwest Washington Regional H...

Self-taught filmmakers driving local industry

Self-taught filmmakers driving local industry

Ask a local about the film scene in Southwest Washington, and you’re likely to b...

Legal marijuana sales underway in Washington state

Legal marijuana sales underway in Washington state

A year and a half after voters legalized recreational marijuana in Washington st...

Banking & Money Management

Challenges & successes in local lending

Challenges & successes in local lending

Reaching the two-year mark is a milestone for small businesses. Not only can owners celebrate the survival of their life’s work, but doors to one of the most vital resources – capital – also begin to open up.

G6 Airpark in Vancouver recently reached this milestone. The local business is a trampoline park, a place where children and adults alike can play on wall-to-wall trampolines. But for owner ...

Education & Workforce Development

Workforce Development: A return to personnel investment

Workforce Development: A return to personnel investment

It is a common reaction to economic downturn: companies understandably tighten their budgets; non-essential or slow-to-return investments get nixed pretty quickly. During the Great Recession, this was the case not only in Southwest Washington, but throughout much of the nation, as investing in a company’s most valuable asset – their employees – fell victim to the reigning in of purse strings.

Wit...

News Briefs

Village Vineyard owner Julie Kuni headlines August 6 Boardroom Breakfast

Village Vineyard owner Julie Kuni headlines August 6 Boardroom Breakfast

What does it take to transform an old home and plot of land into a majestic bed & breakfast and organic winery? Julie Kuni, former retail executive (working with companies like The Discovery Channel and adidas) and long-time community volunteer, knows the answer.

Kuni is the owner of Village Vineyard, Clark County’s newest winery. Join us on Wednesday, August 6, for our latest Boardroom Break...

Spotlight

Wacom eyes continued growth of product lines

Wacom eyes continued growth of product lines

As Doug Little is being interviewed, he motions to the ball-point pen taking notes in my hand.

“You’re using a pen [and paper] right now, but you could be doing that with our tablet,” he said. Little is the senior public relations manager for Wacom Technology Services, a Tokyo-based company whose headquarters for the Americas are located in Vancouver.

Wacom specializes in creating a more intuiti...

Driving development

County commissioners create new postition

Clark County’s board of commissioners last month designated long time staffer Kelly Sills to manage its economic development program.

Sills served as the board’s policy assistant for six years prior to his appointment, and recently spoke with the VBJ about the job that lies ahead.

County commissioners create new postition

Clark County’s board of commissioners last month designated long time staffer Kelly Sills to manage its economic development program.

Sills served as the board’s policy assistant for six years prior to his appointment, and recently spoke with the VBJ about the job that lies ahead.

In Sills’ years with the county, he was increasingly exposed to economic development and has seen an emphasis placed on it by the two boards he’s worked with.

"The new board really stepped up with this position to bring that focus up," he said.

Sills said his job is to help make the county business-friendly by laying the groundwork for economic vitality and creating solutions for businesses.

"When you’re talking about economic development, you’re really talking about the economy. Then what you’re really talking about is jobs, and that’s the magic of the thing – creating jobs. That’s the priority for the board."

Sills aims to make businesses feel like part of the county, and to promote diversity in every sense of the word.

"Economic development is a multidimensional thing," he said. "We need to embrace it from all points of view. We can’t progress until we change because change is foundational for improvement."

National industries are changing, he said. "We’re all part and parcel of this global council."

Sills grew up in Portland and holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from the Portland State University and a Master of Public Administration degree from California State University at Hayward.

Prior to working for Clark County, he worked for Alameda County, Calif., then spent two years in the city of Portland’s Office of Transportation managing the capital improvement program budget.

Sills and his wife Judy were living in the Bay Area when his wife was transferred by Kaiser Permanente to the Portland-area offices. When it came time to choose a community in which to live, Sills knew Clark County was the place, in large part due to its education system.

"I want to invest in my kids," he said. "A big part of economic development is that people have to feel comfortable with an educational system."

Although it seems primary and secondary education receive the bulk of the public’s attention and dollars, Sills said he thinks higher education is going to be a gold mine for the county.

"WSU Vancouver is going to be a huge driver for economic development in the future," he said. "The stronger it gets, the more the business community will benefit."

Sills said he sees technology as a significant driver of the county’s current and future economic capacity and supports WSUV’s "critical ability to enhance that capacity."

"Yale and Harvard didn’t start out with the reputations they have now," he said. "We’re going to see the university get a great reputation nationwide. As WSUV grows into a stronger university, it will start filling the technology vacuum and local business will grow."

Sills also will delve into learning more about public investment areas and the effect that Highway 99 is having on the county.

Daunting? It could be, but Sills said there is a very simple solution: "Don’t go it alone."

"That’s the whole point of the job, to work in partnership with others. The people who are out there running businesses, the state, the city, even the federal government. They all have areas of expertise they can bring to the table to make the economy thrive."

He added that the Columbia River Economic Development Council is doing a superb job of recruiting business to the area, and he will work closely with it.

"They can leverage opportunity through us and vice-versa," Sills said.

"With Clark County, let’s face a couple realities," he said. "In 160 years, we’ve come a long way. We have a successful, growing business community. And in all this success, I’m supposed to help make it better."

Opinion

Focus Column

Improve payment processes by making them more integrated

Improve payment processes by making them more integrated

You’ve probably heard the saying that there’s nothing good that cannot be improved on. In the changing world of payables...

Don’t let your business become a victim of bank fraud

Don’t let your business become a victim of bank fraud

Your bank or credit union is the lifeblood of your business and critical spoke in the wheel of daily commerce. To their ...

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