On August 24, 2017, the Columbia River Economic Development Council (CREDC) Board of Directors (Board) officially adopted Phase II of the 2017 Clark County Comprehensive Economic Development Plan (Plan). Phase I of the Plan was previously adopted by the Board on April 27, 2017. The Plan, which aligns with the Greater Portland 2020 regional economic development action plan, establishes a 20-year vision with countywide goals and objectives, outlines an implementation plan to achieve specific action items over the next five years, and identifies key metrics to track and report progress.
The CREDC was awarded a matching grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration to help fund Phase II of the Plan, which included an in-depth regional competitiveness analysis of communities with similar target sectors, a detailed action plan with lead partners, metrics, and resources, a key performance indicator tool, and an executive summary. Leland Consulting Group (LCG) was contracted to complete both phases of the Plan in coordination with CREDC and with extensive input from local stakeholders.
“The organization is committed to improving overall economic prosperity throughout Clark County,” said Greg Seifert, Chair, CREDC Board of Directors. “This strategic plan represents the culmination of nine months of intensive stakeholder engagement and input from local business and community leaders coming together to define the shared priorities and goals that can have the greatest impact.”
Over two hundred local partners representing cities, ports, education, workforce, downtown associations, nonprofits, chambers and businesses were engaged during a nine-month process to collaborate, create and refine the direction of this work. The Plan is intended to guide the scope of CREDC work plans and focus the collective energies of all economic development partners in the area around the shared goals and objectives identified to achieve the long-term vision that:
- Clark County is one of the most inclusive, healthy, and amenity-rich communities in the country. With a continued focus to grow a diverse base of community-minded employers, talent (inside and outside the region) sees greater opportunity here than anywhere else in the country.
The kickoff to the Plan involved detailed one-on-one interviews with private sector business leaders facilitated by the Institute for Public Deliberation at Washington State University Vancouver, focused on identifying the opportunities and barriers to doing business in Clark County. An existing conditions and competitive analysis was also completed by LCG to provide a demographic, social and economic baseline for identifying the county’s assets and challenges.
The strategic priorities identified through stakeholder engagement and data analysis emphasize the importance of building from within, cultivating talent, and promoting the quality of place. The goals and objectives that guide the specific action items identified in the Plan are as follows:
- Goal 1: Expand the existing business base
- Become industry experts
- Strategically market industry clusters
- Build a startup ecosystem
- Goal 2: Support people
- Foster skills development
- Prepare youth for economic opportunity
- Launch a brain gain initiative
- Promote an ethical and just society through an intentional commitment to inclusion, equity and diversity
- Goal 3: Create place
- Each community creates a placemaking strategy
- Embrace economic opportunity in our urban center
- CREDC tells the story of place
- Make employment areas desired by industry clusters shovel ready
- Determine all transportation needs on a regional level that specifically support economic development
Five target sectors were identified as having the greatest potential for new growth based on industrial and occupational evaluations, as well as emerging versus retracting industry strengths. While CREDC will continue to work with many additional industries which will no doubt continue to be significant drivers of the local economy, the following target sectors will help focus the organization’s strategic efforts to move the needle on economic development:
- Computer and Electronics
- Clean Tech
- Metals and Machinery
- Life Sciences
CREDC will now shift efforts to align internal work plans and committees around the target sectors and specific action items identified to achieve the goals and objectives of the Plan.
“This strategic plan was truly shaped by the community, for the community,” said Mike Bomar, President, CREDC. “The successful implementation of the Plan is dependent upon the continuation of strong collaboration with our private, public, education, and nonprofit partners, each with a clear understanding of their role in achieving our unified vision of economic prosperity.”
An executive summary along with the full 2017 Clark County Comprehensive Economic Development Plan can be found here.