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Talking Jobs in Vancouver, Washington

David Agnew shares his recent trip to Vancouver, Wahsington to talk to business leaders with Mayor Tim Leavitt.

I recently co-hosted a White House Business Council roundtable with Vancouver, Washington Mayor Tim Leavitt.  The meeting took place in a newly-renovated building at the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site, now a beautiful public park that started out as a trading post founded by the Hudson Bay Company in the 19th Century.

This roundtable was part of a series of meetings that senior Administration officials are hosting throughout the country to hear directly from business leaders on their ideas to create more jobs and grow the economy.  Senior Administration officials from nearly every federal agency have participated, as have representatives from a variety of sectors, including higher education, high-tech manufacturing, start ups, banks, real estate and construction firms. 

During the Vancouver discussion, over 25 Vancouver business and community leaders highlighted the region’s economic development strategy, their downtown redevelopment plans, proposed infrastructure investments, and a public-private partnership with Washington State University that promotes new research and technologies.

I heard several Vancouver business owners speak about the barriers posed by existing and new regulations.  One small business owner cited federal regulations as the most time-intensive and expensive aspects of doing business. We discussed the President’s plan for a 21st-century regulatory system, as outlined in his Executive Order on Improving Regulation and Regulatory Review, which calls for an administration-wide review of regulations already on the books to identify rules that need to be changed or removed because they are out-of-date, unnecessary, excessively burdensome, or in conflict with other rules. 

Other Vancouver leaders called for a more streamlined approach and better coordination between agencies in the development and construction of infrastructure, a call that echoed the goals of the Partnership for Sustainable Communities, an initiative that brings together DOT, EPA, and HUD to make more coordinated investments and remove regulatory and policy barriers to infrastructure and sustainable growth.

Others asked for more resources to navigate the federal process and help connect startup business to capital, which led to a conversation about Startup America, the President’s initiative to celebrate, inspire and accelerate high-growth entrepreneurship. 

After the roundtable, I met with various elected leaders and visited the soon-to-be Vancouver City Hall, currently under the last stages of construction.  I want to take this opportunity to thank all of the business leaders and elected officials for taking the time to provide such thoughtful feedback. 

David Agnew is the Deputy Director of the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs