The Washington State Department of Commerce has re-designated the Skagit Valley as an Innovation Partnership Zone (IPZ) focused on value-added agriculture. Gov. Jay Inslee announced IPZ designations on Oct. 2.
The Skagit Valley Value-Added Agriculture IPZ facilitates partnerships to enhance the local agricultural industry, promoting innovative approaches that combine research and technology resulting in new jobs and a robust economy centered on the valley’s rich agricultural resources and heritage. This designation will enhance regional marketing, enlarge future funding potential and facilitate collaborative partnerships. Partners include Washington State University, the Port of Skagit, the City of Mount Vernon, Skagit County, Skagit Valley College, the Economic Development Alliance of Skagit County and the Northwest Agriculture Business Center, along with local farmers and entrepreneurs.
“We want our local farming community to remain viable now and in the future, and the IPZ is a platform we can use to make that happen,” said Patsy Martin, executive director of the Port of Skagit and a prime mover behind creation of the IPZ.
Created in 2007 by the Washington State Legislature, IPZs were intended to encourage and support research institutions, workforce training organizations and globally competitive companies to work cooperatively together in close geographic proximity to create commercially viable products and jobs. In an IPZ, university researchers work closely with their private sector partners to develop prototypes, incubate start-ups, develop critical training programs and pool best practices in order to blaze new trails in innovation.
“Fostering productive and dynamic partnerships is vital to any successful strategic goal,” said Port of Skagit County Commission President Steve Omdal. “Our focus on value-added agriculture means bringing everyone concerned together and finding ways our collective efforts will benefit all going forward.”
A new IPZ was designated in North Central Washington, as well as the re-designation of the Applied Digital Technology IPZ in Vancouver. The designation lasts four years and can be extended.
About the Port of Skagit: Guided by the mission “Good Jobs for Our Community,” the Port of Skagit owns and operates three key facilities: the Skagit Regional Airport, the Bayview Business Park and the La Conner Marina. Combined, these three facilities are home to 85 businesses that employ 1,409 people.