I may be guilty of overusing the phrase "connecting the dots." Sometimes, however, it is just too perfect to pass up.

As the economic outlook remains grim around the globe, our coastal community is poised to wield some advantages over other rural communities. It's not about winning, but it is about business and community preservation. In other words, if we've "got" it - we should flaunt it.

So, what is it we have that offers us a competitive economic advantage? I see three "dots" at minimum.

For one - air service. In March, SeaPort Airlines began serving the North Coast with three times daily roundtrip air service between the Astoria-Warrenton Regional Airport and PDX and Seattle.

While it may appear I am shamelessly promoting one of our advertisers, I would ask readers to think bigger than that.

With SeaPort's success will come the success of many of the region's businesses. Regularly scheduled air service elevates our community to a more viable economic playing field. We need to remember to use the service when possible. More passengers means growth in service, which in turn may foster more economic opportunity.

Timing is great. The concept of a historic preservation economic cluster is gathering steam. This is the second "dot."

If Astoria and other parts of Clatsop County can become a showcase for historic renovation, craftsmanship and education, and hopefully manufacturing, the ability for business partners, customers and tourists from Portland, Seattle and well-beyond to fly here to engage in conferences, courses and site-seeing is critical. It levels the economic playing field - we can be situated off the I-5 corridor and still be viable.

The third "dot" that needs connecting is on another front. Clatsop Economic Development Resources (CEDR) is shifting some of its focus to economic diversification efforts. The organization has been looking at the downward trend in average wages over the last 30 years, and seeking ways to slow the backward slide. Expansion of existing local businesses will remain on the top of the priority heap. (See related article on Page 12).

Passenger (and freight) air service will most certainly assist in CEDR's effort. The historic preservation economic cluster model, focusing on the expansion and development of programs and businesses that complement the concept, also plays in nicely with CEDR's goal of increasing average wages in the area.

One last "dot" that should be considered: The Astoria Aquatic Center. I'm not a user of the facility, but my son learned to swim there, and I am hugely appreciative of its presence.

The Astoria Aquatic Center is the envy of many small communities. It offers current and future employees and business owners an amenity that enhances quality of life and health in Astoria.

Air service, historic preservation program development and business growth are predicated on many elements. Quality of life plays an important role. I hope the City of Astoria can find a way to prioritize the Astoria Aquatic Center.