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Not Your Mother’s Vancouver!

May 12,2016 | By Mayor Tim Leavitt
The perception of Vancouver is changing. In a recent community survey, our residents expressed their pride about our identity and aspirations to be a vibrant, economically successful, beautiful city filled with parks, arts and cultural offerings. They expressed a vision for a city filled with cool, urban amenities like restaurants, brew pubs, coffee shops, unique retail stores and a thriving arts district.  And all these things are becoming reality. Right now. Yes. In Vancouver.
We have made exciting progress on our Waterfront development. This incredible project, when completed, will house more than 3,300 residents and reconnect our historic downtown to the Columbia River waterfront. Construction has begun on the foundations of two restaurants, while mixed use buildings and apartments are in the permitting process.  We have also started work on the seven acre Waterfront Park and pier.
Vancouver is headed in a positive direction as it seeks to retain and expand the city’s existing business base and compete to attract new investment and jobs. Just in the last five years we have started to attract a more dynamic private sector, measured by new business formation and greater business investment. This vitality suggests a stronger economy than we have had in years, with a higher level of entrepreneurship, the attraction of rapidly growing companies, and a business climate more conducive to expansion. 
After four years of sustained growth, Vancouver is home to over 8,000 employers. In downtown, our Innovation Partnership Zone has grown to include nearly 50 small tech businesses in the past three years. 
Businesses are coming to Vancouver. Good jobs are coming to Vancouver. A stronger and diverse economy is growing in Vancouver.  The result of this good news is:  
  • More culture. 
  • More income. 
  • More choices. 
  • Better quality of life. 
  • Better neighborhoods. 
  • Stronger philanthropy. 
  • Broader diversity.
In economic development, there are challenges as well as opportunities. A big challenge facing our work to stimulate the economy is an uneven playing field in terms of Washington State’s limited resources and tools available to recruit new employers.
I am committed to strengthening a cohesive, unified economic development voice for Vancouver. We value our partnerships with our economic development partners, Columbia River Economic Development Council and Greater Portland Inc.  Together, we have worked to enhance marketing and positioning Vancouver, expressed not in tag lines or marketing slogans, but through a better understanding of what attracts people to Vancouver and what business growth would help keep them local to the Metro region. 
The Metro area is a great place to live, work, play and gain a valuable education. Each community in our region has unique assets that will attract businesses and economic growth. But working together….our regional economy will be diverse, resilient and create the financial prosperity each and every citizen may aspire toward. It’s about Vancouver’s uniqueness. It’s about what our citizens aspire to be. And it’s about the distinction that we can contribute to the entire region.  
Have you been to Vancouver lately? Come on up.  We’d love to show you around.

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