Governor Gary Locke’s Remarks
Vancouver Chamber of Commerce
September 26, 2002

Good afternoon. It’s great to be here.

I had an inspiring morning.

Earlier today I was at the Clark County Skills Center to announce a $200,000 investment by the state.

These funds will help expand and enhance the medical careers programs for high school students in the Evergreen School District and at the Skills Center.

This investment was made possible by the efforts of many people, some of whom are in this room. We came together to form a partnership for opportunity.

The state’s investment, along with matching funds and resources from each of the partners, will enable the Evergreen School District to double its capacity in Medical Careers programs from 150 to 300 high school students each year.

The Skills Center will add an additional 25 students each year in its Nursing Program. It’s truly a win-win for everyone.

It addresses the shortage in health care workers while giving students a head start on promising careers in health care.

This region is very focused on our future workforce.

Another vital partnership here includes WSU-Vancouver, Educational Service District 112, Hewlett Packard and the National Science Foundation.

Together, they are providing training opportunities for elementary school teachers to improve their math and science teaching skills.

We are awaiting word from the National Science Foundation about expanded funding.

This additional funding will move these programs into southwest Washington middle and high schools.

Another regional partnership is working on college opportunities in the sciences.

WSU-Vancouver, Clark County Community College and Lower Columbia Community College have joined forces with the Columbia River Economic Development Council and the High Tech Community Council.

They are exploring options for an Engineering and Computer Science Institute on the WSU campus.

I would like to add that State Representative Bill Fromhold and Senator Don Carlson are working directly with the university, colleges and local business community to make this idea a reality.

My thanks to Bill and Don.

Partnerships like the ones I’ve mentioned are critically important to our state’s future.

We must continue to have a highly skilled workforce.

Our state’s workforce is a great strength.

It is one of the key factors in our state’s economic development.

We need to educate our kids so they can compete for quality jobs.

We’ve been fortunate to enjoy economic success in our state, some of it because of luck.

But as the past year’s economic downturn has shown us, things can change quickly.

When I led a state trade mission to Japan and Korea back in July, I saw our competition firsthand.

Both countries are hungry to grow their economies.

They enjoy the same kind of prosperity we’ve experienced.

And many want to locate facilities in our state to be closer to their markets.

There’s a lot at stake.

We’ve got to step up and meet the challenge.

We must send a clear signal that Washington state is not only open for business, but that we are going after it – keeping and growing the jobs we already have and attracting new ones.

That’s why I established the Competitiveness Council last summer, even before the freefall in the national and state economies.

The Council made 99 recommendations last December, and we’ve acted on 40 of them.

Following specific Council recommendations, we have streamlined and shortened permitting processes.

We’ve made regulatory decisions more timely and predictable.

We’ve improved fairness in the unemployment insurance system.

We’ve updated our state’s water laws.

We’ve improved state government efficiencies, and we continue to build on our innovation economy.

The Washington Competitiveness Council has been a key factor in making the improvements we need.

But our work is far from over.

We still haven’t tackled the biggest problem.

The Competitiveness Council’s top recommendation was this: Fix our transportation mess!

Our state has a very promising future.

I am confident that we will realize this promise by making the right choices today.

This is a future in which Washington remains a great place to live, to work, and to raise a family.

A future for our children and our children’s children.

Keep up the great work here in Vancouver. Thank you.

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