At a meeting of the Yaquina Bay Economic Foundation (YBEF) on May 29, I shared the following thoughts with members and guests:

“In the five years my wife and I have been in Newport and in my involvement in YBEF, members have already seen me try out a few initiatives and watched them “not go forward”. I won’t say “failed”, but still they have not “gone forward”. In 2008 my then employee Jed Smith and I decided to get involved in the ocean and took our little high tech company into wave energy, doing an infrastructure assessment for Oregon. We drove up and down the coast meeting with ports, manufacturers, and architects, to learn of their capabilities in supporting the development of wave energy. That however was the last project we did in wave energy! And in 2007 Ron Spisso, instructor with our Small Business Development Center, and I with a few others launched the Lincoln County Technology Solutions Alliance (LSCTSA) to foster the understanding and use of technology in the county, and last December, we closed its doors. Some may call this failure, but I call it the lifestyle of the entrepreneur.

“What has happened since? My company has reinvented itself and now creates fishery information systems, working with salmon fishermen from Oregon, California, and Canada, and taking the technology into the Gulf of Mexico to help fishermen there in their efforts to overcome the effects of overfishing and the Gulf oil spill. From the ashes of the LCTSA, a larger group has formed an Oregon chapter of the Marine Technology Society, which regularly attracts many professors, students, and professionals to its activities. [such as, supporting ROV competition among middle schools students this Saturday at the Aquarium]

“And the knowledge gained in studying Oregon’s infrastructure for wave energy development and operations has helped me to learn firsthand of the remarkable capacity Oregon has for supporting all ocean research and education.

“What has happened in my experience is representative of what will happen to all of us here over the coming years. As a community and a region we will try out new initiatives. Some will go forward, others will not, but we will learn from each one, and use this knowledge to do better. We are becoming a community entrepreneur.

“When I hire employees I tell them I have three goals in my company. First, take care of your clients. Second, take care of your employees. And third, demonstrate leadership in your community.

“Our region has the capacity for demonstrating leadership in ocean research and education, to help lead the state, and to some degree the nation, in gaining an understanding of our ocean. And at all levels. It happens in the schools K-12, as found in Lincoln County School District’s commitment to ocean literacy for all its students. It is found in the Oregon Coast Community College and its aquarium science program, and its programs to prepare and send students on to university  education in the marine sciences. It is also found in Oregon State University with its numerous undergraduate and graduate programs in marine science education and research and its Hatfield Marine Science Center.

“Our region has seen its involvement in the ocean been established in NOAA, the National Science Foundation and the National Northwest Marine Renewable Energy Center, for locating their multimillion dollar facilities here on the central coast. Also in the Oregon Coast Aquarium, Oregon Sea Grant, the Community Seafood Initiative, Surfrider Foundation, and many others that share with the public their understanding of the ocean and its ecosystems. And in our fishermen who collaborate with scientists in collecting ocean data, and helping to responsibly plan the uses of our territorial sea.

“For us the opportunity in ocean research and education is growing dramatically. Over the next several weeks, a group of regional leaders, the Yaquina Bay Ocean Observing Initiative, will apply to the state to fund a much larger initiative to economically grow our region in ocean research and education. This grant application to the Oregon Innovation Council will recommend the funding of an economic cluster to support business growth, collaboration between ocean research and education entities, workforce training, and branding of our region as a hub for ocean observing in the Pacific Northwest.

“I don’t know about you, but however this coming year turns out, its going to be a fun one, and I am looking forward to all that it has to offer.”

 

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