Our Voice: TRIDEC is 50 years young -- where would we be without it?

Fifty years ago, President Kennedy was in office and the organization we now know as TRIDEC was formed.

A lot has changed since then.

The past five decades have been busy and productive ones for the Mid-Columbia, thanks in large measure to the Tri-City Development Council's efforts.

The Herald's founder, Glenn C. Lee, was one of TRIDEC's founders. And although the two organizations aren't as directly linked as they once were, our mutual interest in strengthening the Mid-Columbia's economy continues to unite us.

We have to ask ourselves what the Tri-Cities would look like without TRIDEC's influence. We suspect it would be a lot different and a little barren.

For example, the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory conceivably would not be here if not for TRIDEC. If you pull that anchor out of the picture, all the vessels attached to it have to go as well -- meaning all the spin-offs and startups that have come from the lab, as well as the science and knowledge that benefits not only our community but also the nation.

Lots of community members united to make Washington State University Tri-Cities a four-year institution -- TRIDEC certainly is on that list. But getting WSU-TC here in the first place, with its ensuing wine and biofuels centers, can rightly be laid at TRIDEC's feet as well.

Our agriculture community also has benefited from TRIDEC's reach. The council has worked to bring in food processing plants that get our agricultural products from the field to the table.

And there's the energy park.

The list of direct contributions TRIDEC has made to our economy and our quality of life is a long one. Very long. And it gets exponentially longer when you multiply the impact of each direct success.

Business, ag, education -- TRIDEC is there and has been for 50 years. We can't think of one segment of our community that has not benefited from its efforts.

Beyond the recruiting initiatives to bring strong businesses to town, TRIDEC also is responsible for lobbying the government, federal and state, and encouraging them to make wise decisions that affect us.

The original name of TRIDEC was Tri-City Nuclear Industrial Council (TCNIC). And although the word nuclear has been removed from the title, the nuclear mission still is an important role.

For most people, 50 years is when we start to hit our stride. We've matured and we're a little smarter, but we still have good health and vigor.

We suspect, however, that TRIDEC, which seemed to have hit its stride much earlier than 50, still is in its infancy.

We are expecting a long lifespan with lots of vigor and vim. We see no signs of slowing, rather we keep seeing TRIDEC officials picking up the pace. Again. And again.

So here's to the first 50 years! Thank you, TRIDEC. And we wish you many, many more!