State names Vancouver a digital technology zone; Key to new economic growth

Press Release Date:
Friday, October 4, 2013
Aerial East Facing Shot of River and Vancouver

The City of Vancouver, Wash., leading a local partner coalition, was awarded its first state Innovative Partnership Zone (IPZ) designation for digital technology growth. This will significantly boost the region’s ability to grow a “knowledge-based economy,” enhance jobs and business opportunities in emerging digital industries.

The Washington Department of Commerce designation will open access to new grants, build local programs and utilize existing technologies in new ways. This will lead to marketable products, company formation, and jobs.

“We are thrilled with the statewide designation, which will allow us to brand this part of the state as a hotbed for innovation in applied digital technology research and business,” said Chad Eiken, Community and Economic Development Director for the City of Vancouver. 

“Together, locally, we will build the connection between colleges and businesses to develop new technologies, create a steady supply of locally trained talent and jobs for them to land in, expand infrastructure to grow our area’s technology industries, and bring new technology applications and products to market,” Eiken said.

The “Digital Technology Accelerator” program will attract new employers to two zones, Vancouver’s downtown and eastside, to grow the technology sector:

  • Downtown Vancouver would evolve as a prime location for creative innovators. The small digital and software workforce increasingly gravitates to urban core environments – affordable, mixed-use walkable places with character. 
  • On the 192nd Ave. corridor at Highway 14, Vancouver and Camas are already home to global and national high tech companies such as Wacom Technology Corp, Sharp Laboratories, Logitech, Integra, Hewlett-Packard, and others and IPZ projects will help open up new markets for existing technologies and attract new businesses.

“It’s an exciting time to amplify expansion of the growing technology industry on this side of the Columbia River,” said George DeCarlo from Woobox, one of the program’s business partners. “This is good for business, good for local citizens and good government service.”

The Clark County Economic Development Plan cites growth in technology clusters as a key regional economic strategy. This new “knowledge-based economy” is a way to diversify local jobs and rebalance this region’s reliance on construction and manufacturing, industries hit hard by the recent economy. Clark County continues to struggle with high unemployment.

“The IPZ for digital technology growth represents a great opportunity to build on the digital technology infrastructure in Southwest Washington. I anticipate great opportunity for our alumni and our community,” said Mel Netzhammer, chancellor for Washington State University Vancouver.

The four-year designation by the Washington Department of Commerce was awarded to a public/private partnership of research, workforce training, private sector, governments and nonprofit agencies, all working together, led by the City of Vancouver’s Community and Economic Development Department.

Partner agencies include the City of Camas, Washington State University Vancouver, Clark College, Columbia River Economic Development Council, Camas-Washougal Economic Development Association, Southwest Workforce Development Council, Wacom Technology Corp and Woobox.

“We are eager to get to work with our key partners to make this IPZ a success - and that ultimately means enhancing our regional economy, jump-starting emerging industries and enhancing Vancouver’s quality of life,” said Eric Holmes, City Manager for the City of Vancouver.

About the City of Vancouver
The City of Vancouver develops and implements long-term vision and goals for the community, to ensure that growth is safe and that economic development is at the forefront, building jobs and prosperity. The City’s Community and Economic Development Department offers easy business permitting, plans needed infrastructure and aids with business recruitment and retention. City services also include public safety, parks and recreation, and utilities such as water, sewer, garbage and streets. Visit www.cityofvancouver.us

About IPZ’s and State Department of Commerce
The Innovation Partnership Zones program was created by Governor Christine Gregoire and the Washington State Legislature to stimulate the growth of industry clusters and build regional economies. IPZs empower regions to form partnerships between research entities, private sector partners, and workforce training to collaborate and develop commercially viable technologies. To learn more, visit www.choosewashington.com.

Read the Vancouver Business Journal story on IPZ

Designation gives Vancouver a technology boost - Columbian news story

Kickoff event in Vancouver a digital showcase

For more information:
Chad Eiken, Director Community and Economic Development, 360.487.7882
Sandra Towne, Manager Planning & Policy, City of Vancouver, 360.487.7947