PeaceHealth still Clark County’s top employer

Health care provider added nearly 600 jobs from a year earlier

By Gordon Oliver, Columbian business editor



Clark County's Top Employers

PeaceHealth (including Southwest Medical Center): 4,253

Vancouver Public Schools: 3,163

Evergreen Public Schools: 3,127

Fred Meyer stores: 1,550

Battle Ground Public Schools: 1,550

Clark County: 1,531

Bonneville Power Administration: 1,175

Clark College: 1,150

Safeway: 1,081

WaferTech: 1,000

Source: Columbian survey

PeaceHealth has increased its employment as other public and private employers were holding their own, solidifying it’s position as Clark County’s top employer.

PeaceHealth reported 4,253 full-time and part-time employees at its Southwest Medical Center and its corporate headquarters, called the shared services center, located in Vancouver’s now-bustling Tech Center.

It’s a big jump from a year ago, when The Columbian reported 3,676 Peace Health employees in Clark County.

Three other private employers — Fred Meyer, Safeway, and WaferTech — made the top-10 list of Clark County’s largest employers. Other top employers included the county’s three largest school districts, Clark College, the federal Bonneville Power Administration and Clark County. Those top ten employers listed just over 20,000 workers, either full-time or part time. In total, the Clark County labor force contains about 130,000 workers.

The Columbian included Clark College this year for the first time, which moved the city of Vancouver off the top 10 list. The city had 920 employees last year, down from 980 in 2011, making it the county’s 11th-largest employer.

PeaceHealth clearly was the brightest light among the county’s top employers, adding nearly 600 jobs from a year ago. Many of those jobs are in the shared services center in the Tech Center’s cavernous Columbia Center building, where PeaceHealth is committed to a 10-year lease.

Alan Yordy, president and chief mission officer of PeaceHealth, predicted last fall that PeaceHealth could have 800 workers at its shared services center in five years.

Those estimates may prove to have been understated. PeaceHealth has joined Colorado-based Catholic Health Initiatives in proposing a new regional health care system, with operations based in Vancouver that could create even more local jobs. Their proposed partnership -- which would create a regional health care system with operations based in Vancouver -- would combine seven Catholic Health Initiatives hospitals in Washington and Oregon with nine PeaceHealth hospitals in Washington, Oregon and Alaska.

The Vancouver, Evergreen and Battle Ground school districts all added employees, a turnaround from the previous year when Vancouver and Evergreen had both absorbed staffing cuts. Clark County also added about two dozen positions, while retailers Safeway and Fred Meyer put a few more people to work.

Camas chip manufacturer WaferTech held steady with about 1,000 workers. The company is a subsidiary of the giant Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company Limited.