When I sat down to write a Thanksgiving column this week, I found myself staring at the keyboard struggling to give thanks. We have a lot to be grateful for in Clark County, but in this space I write about business and the economy. This is a community that faces climbing unemployment, dropping home values, a high foreclosure rate.
Perhaps you can see my dilemma?
But there’s always something to be thankful for, and even in business and economic terms Clark County has many blessings.
We can be thankful for business leaders who have remembered the importance of philanthropy, even when their profits have been squeezed. As Jean Rahn, executive director of the Southwest Washington Medical Center Foundation told me earlier this year, “Times are tough, but people are stepping forward the best they can.”
We can be thankful that many local companies continue to grow and thrive. RS Medical, Clear Access, Linear Technology, DiscoverOrg and Karcher North America are just a few of the businesses that have created hundreds of new local jobs this year. Without their hiring, and that of many others, Clark County’s jobless rate would be even higher.
We can be thankful that other companies plan to invest here in the years ahead, guaranteeing that the unemployment rate will eventually go down. Farwest Steel, BHP Billiton and PeaceHealth have plans that should ultimately bring hundreds of jobs to Clark County, starting a few years out.
We can be grateful for our infrastructure, and for improvements in the works that will make it even easier for companies to import, export and just transport their goods. The Port of Vancouver has made great strides at improving rail options with its $137 million freight access program, and more significant upgrades lie ahead.
We can be thankful for the many ongoing efforts to make things better. Groups like Share are working hard to serve more hungry and homeless people than ever. Organizations like the Columbia River Economic Development Council are trying hard to recruit more employers to Clark County, and to encourage those that are here to keep investing. Fledgling efforts like PubTalk are nurturing local startups and helping them to grow.
As I was struggling to write this column, my mother-in-law shared with me a prayer that helped me put my pessimism in perspective.
I’d like to share that prayer today:
Let us be thankful when we are able to give,
For many do not have that privilege.
Let us be grateful for all those who share their gifts with us,
For we are enriched by their giving.
And let us be grateful even for our needs, so that we may learn from the generosity of others.
It will take time, effort, generosity and hard work before our challenges improve, but times are not as dark as the bad news might make us think. For that, we should all be thankful.
Courtney Sherwood is The Columbian’s business and features editor. Reach her at 360-735-4561 or firstname.lastname@example.org.