Vancouver Business Journal

Thu04172014

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 Business Growth Award finalists announced

Business Growth Award finalists announced

14 businesses have been named finalists for the Vancouver Business Journal's 201...

Is Food Processing part of Port “Comprehensive Scheme”?

Is Food Processing part of Port “Comprehensive Scheme”?

The leaders of a Clark County food processing company will bring their efforts t...

Developers cautious but developing

Developers cautious but developing

Although the Great Recession is behind us, many businesses and individuals are s...

Exploring Business Case for Tesoro-Savage Oil Terminal

Exploring Business Case for Tesoro-Savage Oil Terminal

In a few weeks, Tesoro-Savage will publish an economic impact study, conducted b...

The Art of the Deal

The Art of the Deal

Local business transaction attorneys agree -- deals are deals. However, they als...

Excursion company bringing riverboat, regional office to Vancouver

Excursion company bringing riverboat, regional office to Vancouver

The American Queen Steamboat Company (AQSC), a Memphis-based excursion/tour comp...

Design & Construction

Commercial development: Building for tomorrow

Commercial development: Building for tomorrow

If commercial developers feel like circus performers walking a tightrope, there is good reason.

Limited financing, escalating regulatory and raw material costs, and still-low property valuations make penciling out a project difficult. And yet, workforce trends and emerging technologies demand designs that look to the future.

Build to the budget

According to Ron Frederiksen, president of RSV Bui...

Real Estate & Development

Developers cautious but developing

Developers cautious but developing

Although the Great Recession is behind us, many businesses and individuals are still feeling the effects. Local developers were some of the hardest-hit, and for a few years now have been consistently saying that they’re still digging their way out. As building season for 2014 gets underway, we checked in with a few local developers to see how business is looking for this year and beyond. Are we fi...

News Briefs

Ten things: How to better connect with your legislators

Seven state legislators gathered at the Heathman Lodge this afternoon to discuss the previous legislative session in Olympia with members of the business community.

Participants in the second annual “Legislative Review Luncheon” included Sen. Don Benton; Sen. Annette Cleveland; Rep. Paul Harris; Rep. Ed Orcutt; Rep. Liz Pike; Sen. Ann Rivers; and Rep. Brandon Vick.

Spotlight

Blind Onion Pizza poised for future growth

Blind Onion Pizza poised for future growth

Gene Schwendiman brought 30 years of restaurant management and operations experience to Blind Onion Pizza in 2001. Over the years, the number of stores expanded and contracted, slicing into new territory until three separate markets developed – Portland, Vancouver and Reno. The ownership group agreed to divide and conquer, each partner retreating into individual entities, with Schwendiman focusing...

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

Building “failures” and how to avoid them

Building “failures” and how to avoid them

The recent collapses of the I-5 Bridge over the Skagit River and the floor of the Vancouver Warehouse and Distribution C...

“THINK”ing about construction

“THINK”ing about construction

A surprising resource in Clark County is the “THINK!” program, which is a collaboration between the Building Industry As...

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