To see the full multimedia package for this story, including videos, a photo gallery and an interactive graphic, visit www.columbian.com/growth.It’s a three-step recipe for reviving an economy: take land, add labor and stir in capital.Companies still need smart leaders and strong products, of course, but when a community can offer places to operate, a work force trained to do the job, and money to pay the way, solid businesses are positioned to grow.Trouble is, Clark County lacks the right mix of those three key ingredients, and it’s holding us back.As the U.S. economy slowly recovers, Clark County is staggering under the weight of 28 consecutive months of double-digit unemployment, the third-worst foreclosure rate in the state and scant job growth. “We just haven’t seen the turnaround,” said Scott Bailey, regional labor economist for the state Employment Security Department. Today, some 28,000 of our friends, neighbors, and family members are unemployed and looking for work. With the private sector providing the vast majority of local jobs, businesses need to start growing and hiring again to bring those numbers down.Corporate crisisA thriving sawmill on the Columbia River offers insight into the importance of land, labor and capital for one company — or even a region — to turn itself around.Though healthy today, Vancouver-based Columbia Vista Corp. suffered an economic crisis of its own in the mid-1990s, when Japan’s real estate and stock bubble burst. Buyers from that country had been Columbia Vista’s primary customers, making frequent payments that allowed the sawmill to keep the lights on, the logs coming in and the paychecks going out. Now its primary source of capital was gone.
September 16, 2019