Wahkiakum County Comprehensive Plan Steering Committee
February 19, 2003
Wahkiakum County Courthouse
1. Project Update
2. Potential of Technology & Telecommunications for the Local Economy
Tab Wilkins, Director of Operations, Washington Technology Center
Technology-Related Economic Development in Rural Communities
Carol Larson & John Alves, Wahkiakum West Telephone
Existing Infrastructure, Planned Investments & Potential Applications
3. Committee Questions/Comme nts/Suggestions
4. Upcoming Meeting Topics & Schedule
266 Agenda 02 19 03
Wahkiakum County Comprehensive Plan Steering Committee
February 19, 2003
Membe rs Present Others Present
Curtis Nielsen Melissa Taylor, CWCOG
LeRoy Burns Tab Wilkins, WA Technology Ctr.
Tom Doumit Carol Larson, Wahkiakum West
Frank Webb John Alves, Wahkiakum West
Andy Lea Mark Linquist, Commissioner
Delvin Fredrickson Terry Fernsler, Col-Pac RC&EDD
Joe Florek, Jr. Jerry Smith, Col-Pac RC&EDD
Larry Reese Esther Gregg
David Vik Bob Larson
Bill Coop Maria Larcher
1. Project Update
Melissa Taylor provided a status report on recent activities. Five more surveys have come
in, which were forwarded to Deb Gribskov. Meeting summaries from the past two
meetings will be posted on the website very shortly. The address is
www.cwcog.org/wahkiaku m.ht ml.
Melissa distributed copies of a demographic profile of the county, including a two-page
section on work commute distances. This information is relevant to the concept of rural
telework, in which people ―commute‖ from their homes via the Internet. The data shows
that the proportion of those working from home has declined over the past decade, from
8.9% to 3.6%. Commuting times have generally increased. Trips under 15 minutes
declined overall, while the proportion of workers with travel times over 20 minutes
increased significantly. The use of carpooling experienced a 52.6% increase over the
2. Potential of Technology and Telecommunications as an Economic Strategy
Melissa introduced Tab Wilkins, Director of Operations for the Washington Technology
Center in Seattle. The Technology Center was created in the early 1980’s to prevent loss
of jobs overseas. Much of their work involves partnerships between universities and
private companies. Tab will speak about how technological innovations are being used in
rural areas, particularly for entrepreneurs and manufacturers. Highlights from the
discussion and the Question/Answer session following is summarized below:
Technology – Tab Wilkins
Business & technology forms a framework where there is a source of ideas, such as
university or research laboratories.
20-30 years ago was when the Silicon Valley began to take off.
Seattle’s technology sector has been decades in the making.
Entrepreneurship involves several aspects of technology:
1. Hi-tech businesses tend to grow around each other.
2. A skilled workforce is essential, including Bachelors degrees, Masters and PhD’s. An
Associates Degree is needed for the regular workforce.
3. Infrastructure needed for technology involves high- speed digital, air transportation
and physical facilities.
Incubators are one form of facility that can be helpful. They ―give birth‖ to firms
and house them until they ―graduate.‖
Incubators need strict rules to operate well, e.g., ―graduation‖ expected in 3-5
NBIA (National Business Incubators Association) is a good website for more
Incubators make a wonderful community statement about itself.
Several examples exist in Washington: Port of Chelan/Wenatchee just added
90,000 sq. ft. building, with a fiber optic terminus built by the PUD. The local
community college occupies one floor, and private business occupies the other.
Port Angeles has an incubator for developing their marine services sector.
Need to be clear about your goals.
High Speed Internet
The ―pipe‖ of information infrastructure.
High speed Internet won’t bring anyone in anymore. They can get it most places.
They will come for another reason: quality of life, rural lifestyle, availability of
financial resources, workforce characteristics, etc.
You need to know what to do when it happens.
Use of high-speed Internet for existing businesses include:
Cut out the middleman/expand suppliers network
Lifestyle companies can stay connected with their companies and the market.
See: Index of Innovation and Technology for Washington State 2003,
distributed at the meeting.
Competitiveness is measured by indicators such as patents generated, research
and development facilities/activities, high tech workforce, college degrees,
The Satsop Business Park in Aberdeen may be a good example of what can be
done, but the facility is unique, being a nuclear plant. Terry Fernsler gave some
Safe Harbor, a high-end call center, was the first anchor tenant. They have 200
employees and lots of ―pipe‖ with redundant T-1 lines. They also have a large
quantity of water rights, from the former nuclear plant.
18 companies are at this park; not all are high tech.
The CELL (Community Education Life- long Learning) Center is looking for a
suitable site, probably in Pacific County.
BPA was going to spend $60-100 million to destruct the plant and reforest,
but instead gave $15 M to the Public Development Authority (PDA) to build
the business park.
Kinetix, a very top-secret British military organization, is the latest tenant.
Their workers are imported for their knowledge base.
Many of the local workforce were retrained for employment within Safe
Harbor or the CELL Center.
Tab Wilkins added:
Incubators generally provide other needed services, such as business support,
in order to ensure survival of the business.
There is a key difference between incubators and business parks. Incubators
have very flexible space needs to adapt to any kind of suitable business, while
a business park generally as 5-15,000 square feet of space that is built to suit a
Q & A Comme nts:
If the Port District were to put up a building and employ 6-12 people in the manner of
an incubator, it would make a big difference here.
How does one determine whether it is appropriate for the public sector to be involved
in a business park or incubator, versus leaving it up totally to the private sector? --
There is no easy answer to that; it depends on the goals of the local community. Many
business parks/incubators are the result of public/private partnerships. In the
northeastern U.S., it is seen as good sense for the public sector to be involved, due to
a large number of plant shutdowns. Here, the problem is slow out- migration of your
workforce. You have to decide what your priorities are. The PDA did it in Grays
Harbor. A connection with higher education or research & development is pretty
important in the mix. (Tab Wilkins)
SIRTI in Spokane and OiC in Bend are two high tech facilities that involve research.
SIRTI is 100% state funded, and connected with WSU. There is also a federal/USDA
connection to the Tri-Cities and Pullman. SIRTI involves a physical facility and R&D
facilities as well as high tech business services. OiC is a ―virtual‖ incubator, with
limited physical facilities and more on- line, high tech assistance offered to
Could we offer distance learning such as they do in Aberdeen? Perhaps let people
learn how to become a dental technician without missing work? --This is quite
possible/doable. Benson High School in Portland is a good example of juniors and
seniors learning to be dental and lab techs while still in high school. You need a good
partnership with your local K-12. (TW)
Wahkiakum High School has a building dedicated to this purpose, with computer
workstations and a link to Lower Columbia College. Need to see more about how this
is going. WSU Extension offers courses at the River Street Building, but these are not
You can do distance learning on Internet or cable. Look at Port Haddock, Skagit, and
Whatcom Counties. Telemedicine requires high speed, because you need the
consistent visual image. (TW)
A lot is being done via web cast—you can’t see the other party, but you can learn and
type in your questions, so it is interactive. Wahkiakum West Telephone used this
service to train some of its workforce. (Carol Larson)
Telecommunications -- Carol Larson & John Alves
The availability of technology will bring in some people who might not otherwise
move to Wahkiakum County, but can work from home. It may not necessarily bring
We have people using web cast training in the county, an engineer with Boeing who
telecommutes, and some others who ―commute‖ to Salem, OR via Internet.
John Ayles, Plant Manager for Wahkiakum West gave a brief outline of the progress
in technology infrastructure in Wahkiakum County:
1966 -- The company began converting aerial iron wire and cable plant to
underground. The distribution plant was replaced and a new business and central
office (C.O.) was constructed at Miller Point Road in Rosburg.
1968 – Installation of new step-by-step analog switching equipment, automated
toll ticketing equipment and a 192-channel microwave system linking
Wahkiakum West to Astoria and the world (improvement over submarine cable).
Improved operator service for Grays River and Naselle.
Mid-1970’s – Conversion of rotary dial step-by-step switching equipment to tone
dialing (push button phones). Added centralized fire call system at Miller Point
C.O. for Grays River Fire Dept.
1981 – Constructed a buried T-screen cable from Miller Point Road to Naselle
switching office. Installed digital carrier system to replace analog trunking
between the two communities, giving better quality voice transmission.
1983 – Replaced old analog step-by-step switching equipment at Miller Point
Road C.O. with digital switching and operator equipment, adding more calling
features for telephone customers. Installed TD5, the smallest switch in the U.S.,
with only 512 lines.
1988 – Began replacement of underground plant with jelly cable to prevent water
1989 – Converted Naselle remote office to digital switching. This prefaced the
second generation of subscriber carrier equipment, offering faster Internet
connections with better quality.
1990 – Drafted 5-year improvement plan, calling for replacement of all old air-
core buried cable with new filled cable as well as fiber optic and fiber optic cable
1991 – Began execution of 5- year plan with fiber optic cable buried to Rosburg
from Miller Point office, connecting to digital loop subscriber carrier at Rosburg.
This 3- mile link saved 600 lines. This involved a sonic grade multiplexer for
Grays River and Altoona. From this hut, a T-screen cable was buried to Eden
Valley--403 junctions where a second subscriber system (digital loop carrier) was
1994 – Began providing E-911 service to Wahkiakum and Pacific County
Sheriff’s agencies through a network of trunks, requiring modification to switch
and trunking facilities. Built fiber optic cable from Miller Point C.O. to Naselle
and West Naselle remote offices.
1995 – Completed improvements to Grays River/Naselle area, bringing a
universal grade of service to all customers, and ending multiple- grades of service.
1997 – Installed a new microwave radio with greater capacity and more features.
Telemetry system provided for DS3 function (equivalent to 28 T-1 lines) and
AMI-VGS for third channel signaling, resulting in better voice/data transmission.
A GPS radio with timing clock eliminated signal interruptions and timing
1998 – Replaced old digital switch with state-of-the-art digital switch from
Northern Telecom, providing more capacity and a DSIO switch to cancel call-
waiting features for Internet users. DID trunking or DBX service is now available
to business upon demand.
1999 – Began replacement of old digital subscriber carrier with multifunctional
equipment capable of extending DSL service to majority of customer base, as of
2002. Ninety percent (90%) of the customer base now enjoys T-1 or DSL Internet
Current daily functions include new line extensions, cable locates, and employee
training. There are 15 employees at Wahkiakum West Telephone and Television.
Q & A Comme nts:
We have DSL on Puget Island and are satisfied with it. Are we connected to fiber
optic cable bored under the Columbia River, from SR 409? --From Clearview Road to
the Megler Bridge. Rosburg School and Naselle Youth Camp and the Naselle School
are connected with fiber. (John Alves)
We’ve been told that the eastern end of the county can be served with DSL through
Century Tel as far as two miles out from the Central Office in Cathlamet. They’ve
told us there needs to be at least 12 customers to extend beyond that.
What are the differences in T-1, T-3, etc.? --T-1 lines allow 24 voice/data lines,
running at 1.5 MB and 64 KB. A T-3 line is equivalent to 28 T-1’s, with 44 MB and
offering 672 voice lines. In a clear channel, all of the bandwidth is used. We want to
get about 56 more T-1 connections after crossing the channel over to Astoria, but
need to partner in order to do it. Century Tel is not interested in doing that at this
The Gates Foundation provided funds to 15 granges across the state for community
computer centers. The old Rosburg School received some of these funds and now has
4 computer workstations. We provide community use, but don’t allow people to use it
for business purposes. It is helpful for home-schooled kids, disabled persons, etc.
We’d like to get more workstations.
T-1 connections are provided at all schools in the county through the state’s K-20
network, including Naselle Youth Camp.
What sorts of conditions are needed to draw high- tech systems that will service
business? Proximity to urban areas like Portland/Vancouver? --It depends—Moses
Lake has an airport, and R&D operations. Anacortes markets to the ferry traffic.
Forks uses theirs for marketing. Your SWOT analysis looks more at physical
qualities. You should also examine other qualities of your community that may
benefit from high tech applications. There is some potential with your proximity to
Is it possible to get spin-offs from a business park? --Yes, especially if there is also
access to capital in the community. Seed capital is especially important, and notably
lacking in rural areas. Wa. Technology Center has held workshops on securing seed
capital and wants to expand these to rural areas. Seed capital comes mostly from
individuals, and is different from equity and venture capital, where there is some
degree of control offered in return. Seed capital is debt financing, not an equity
partnership. Another term used is ―Angel Investors‖. An upcoming trip is planned to
D.C. to see if USDA resources can be leveraged in this fashion. We will let you know
what we learn about that. (TW)
Your best bet is not to expect a high-tech firm to be ―lured‖ here, but to work with
what you’ve got to expand their capacity. You might want to consider incubators or a
research/business park, if you have experienced a loss in companies. (TW)
Call Centers are generally recruited to an area, rather than having them come knock
on your door. The danger of call centers is that they are constantly on the move, going
to India and other places, looking for cheap labor. While they do value the rural work
ethic, cost is the key factor, and access to training in a rural area could be limited, for
a particular business’ needs. (TW)
Are virtual call centers possible, where there is no facility investment and people
work from their homes? --Yes, but again, access to training for that business would be
key. They would probably need a critical mass of workers in order to do the training
piece. A virtual back office might be possible, but again, most businesses would look
at that as a cost-savings move more than anything else, and in bad times, could look
there first to reduce operations. (TW)
The Colville call center for Washington Dental Service got around these obstacles
due to several reasons: someone was aware that a second center was going to be built,
probably in the Puget Sound region, and sold WDS on a rural location because of the
gridlock on Puget Sound highways, cheaper labor, and the right infrastructure. They
got federal and state monies for the building and other partnerships for the red undant
fiber loop they needed. Other communities have done it, too, but most if not all use
outside (federal/state) money to make it come together.
What is the potential for expanding high speed Internet service to serve the ―last
mile‖ customers in Wahkiakum County? Is NOANET the answer to this? This area
doesn’t appear on their map of facilities, currently. NOANET is the distributor of
fiber service within BPA’s rights-of-way. Was told that as they upgrade their outside
plant, they may offer this service, but it’s a long-term proposition. –Probably so.
You’d be better off to work with existing providers such as Wahkiakum West and
Century Tel. (TW) –Wahkiakum West will be running a second fiber optic line
between Naselle and Grays River, providing redundancy and upgrades to include DS3
and OC3 connections. (JA) –The need for redundancy depends on the type business
and their needs. (TW)
You would need a high level of service to allow telemedicine to work, and for
improved distance learning. Higher bandwidths would provide consistency to video
transmission. (TW) –We don’t need high-capacity bandwidth; we can divide it. (JA)
The Old Weyerhaeuser site should be tagged for future redevelopment. Since it is
adjacent to the Wahkiakum West Telephone office, it would be no problem to provide
a good level of service. (CL)
Are there clearinghouses for companies looking for sites? How would you learn about
it? – Find a good site consultant and use their services. (TW)
To get a really high level of service in a rural area, it makes a big difference to have a
major educational player. Parts of NY state are very rural, but for some reason a
college was built in the area that has a high-tech focus, and the rest of the community
has really benefited. A strong workforce in terms of skills is also key These factors
represent the long-term commitment referred to earlier. (TW)
Focus on your value-added sectors. For instance, this marine sector being developed
in Port Angeles has fishing, transportation and boat building components.
Washington Technology Center is working with injecting plastics into wood products
for value-added forest products. (TW)
Washington Manufacturing Service (WMS) is there for existing manufacturing firms
that want to improve their operations, through ISO certification or other means to
improve the product. (TW)
The SBIR (Small Business Innovation Research) program is run through all federal
departments (USDA, Commerce, DOT, etc.) offering grants for research and
applications of product improvements to private industry. We can assist a small
business interested in pursuing one of these, but they often involve a community
college professor working with the company to develop a product. (TW)
WA Technology Center also trains investors on how seed capital works, in the hopes
of generating more of this type of capital investment. We just put in a grant
application to EDA (federal) to develop seed capital resources around the state. (TW)
2. Committee Questions/Comme nts/Suggestions
Melissa asked each committee member to use the sheet distributed prior to the
presentations for jotting down five or more ideas from tonight’s discussion that they
though had some promise for Wahkiakum County. In addition, members were asked to
rank these in order of preference. Those ratings are summarized on the following page.
(A weighted matrix score is presented at the end of this document.)
Local financial investments in infrastructure or reuse of sites to entice high tech
companies to locate here. (e.g., industrial park/incubator; Weyco site reuse; Rosburg
School, etc.) (3)
Industrial Park with incubator facility. Have high tech/low-tech components. (2)
Distance learning centers, especially higher education, with interactive capacity,
whether through satellite, cable, Internet, web cast, etc. (2)
Establish a ―Virtual Incubator.‖
Locate outside funding sources (e.g., USDA Rural Community Empowerment, etc.)
Recruit companies/market our area. Start with what we already have.
Expand fiber optic networks throughout the county/o ffer DSL or other high speed
Internet across the county. Allow work-at-home through these services. (3)
Seed money to finance homegrown talent through incubator business/ Use computing
centers at the granges as a pre- incubator for business. (2)
Explore government funding for expansion of telecom services/ Research EDA’s
information on growing the telecommunications sector within your community. (2)
Distance/virtual learning with interactive capability.
Distance learning for local people, especially training high school students to be
―cyber-trainers‖ using web casts, interactive capability, etc. (3)
Seed money resources for local investment, including industrial park/incubator
DSL/fiber optic infrastructure throughout the county/ Proximity to Portland for
satellite operations. (2)
Recruit companies looking to expand ―back office‖ operations.
Equalize telecom service throughout the county. (2)
Back Office operations/outsourcing services for local and out-of-area business. (2)
Build on existing business base to ―grow your own‖ high tech sector.
Create industrial/―tech‖ center/incubator facility within the county. (2)
High speed Internet services throughout the county.
Increase access to capital.
What does King County need that we have?
Resource Science College—preserving the knowledge of our resources.
4. Upcoming Meetings
The meeting schedule was briefly reviewed. Tourism (both regional and pass-through)
will be discussed on March 5th . Guests include George Sharp of Washington State
Tourism Office, Mark Plotkin of Cowlitz County Tourism, Una Boyle of Pacific County
Convention & Visitors Bureau, and Mary Kay Nelson, of Lewis County, which is nearing
completion of a comprehensive Tourism Plan.
The meeting adjourned at approximately 8:45 p.m.
0266 Steering Committee Meeting Summary 02 19 03
Technology & Telecommunications
Wahkiakum County Comprehensive Plan Steering Committee members were asked for feedback
about the best ideas they heard at the Technology & Telecommunications Economic Forum. They
were asked to list at least five ideas that merit consideration or further exploration. After listing
the ideas, they were ranked in preferential order as to what seemed most appropriate for
Wahkiakum County, with a rank of ―1‖ being most favorable. The idea may be a type of goods or
services produced, financial tools or resources, organizations, networks or partnerships, or other
These were tallied and are listed below in rank-order, after assigning point values to each idea,
based on the response. A rating of 1=5 points, 2=4 points, 3=3 points, 4=2 points and 5=1 point.
These points were multiplied by the frequency of that particular response. For example, an idea
that was listed by two people as their highest priority (1) and by three people as their last priority
(5) scored the following points: 2 X 5 + 3 X 1 = 13 points.
STRATEGY Total Points
Industrial Park/Incubator Facility
Include high-tech/low-tech options; find seed capital/ 28
support existing business, ―grow your own‖ concept
Equalize High Speed Internet Service throughout the
DSL, fiber optic, satellite, etc.
Distance Learning Centers
Interactive capability, e.g. Internet, satellite, web casts, cable, etc. 23
Back Office Operations – 7
Recruit Companies/Market our Area – 5
“Virtual” Incubator – 5 21
Call Center – 4
Locate Outside Funding Resources/Access to Capital
Seed capital, ―Angel Investors‖, government grants, etc. 20
Infrastructure Investments/Site Re-use
As an incentive to businesses and industry 15
0266 Forum Tabulation Technology & Telecom MT 02 03