Community Meeting on Economic Development

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INTRODUCTION


This report summarizes the outcomes from a community meeting entitled “Economic Development in Monterey County”, held by Supervisor Jane Parker on Sunday, January 31, 2010, from 3-5 p.m.  Supervisor Parker and her staff will be seeking opportunities to implement the many good ideas which were generated by this event.  This report will be posted online at www.janeparker.org


The Community Forum brought together nearly 30 people to discuss ways to improve economic development efforts in Monterey County.  Residents from around the County heard a panel discussion on economic development, after which small discussion groups were created for brainstorming ideas on different topics and to complete the Community Business Matching Model survey distributed by the Monterey County Business Council.  Additionally, residents who could not attend submitted written ideas, which are included in this summary.


PANEL DISCUSSION


To initiate discussions on the topic of economic development, the audience heard presentations from Supervisor Parker, Loyanne Flinn of the Monterey County Workforce Investment Board, and Mary Ann Leffel of the Monterey Business Council.  The three panelists then answered questions from attendees.  Highlights of the presentation include:

  • The Monterey Business Council is very active, with multiple committees called “competitive clusters” which focus on specific topics.  The topic areas for competitive clusters include agricultural, tourism, creativity and technology, education, and more.  Staff at the Business Council are very involved in helping Monterey County take advantage of opportunities in the new “green economy.”  The Business Council has been active in promoting solar and wind energy, as well as water conservation.  There is a great opportunity for jobs in these sectors.
  • The Board of Supervisors recently formed a subcommittee on Economic Development.  Supervisors Potter and Calcagno are assigned to this subcommittee for 2010.  There is a lack of coordination between local jurisdictions on economic development efforts; the County residents would benefit from collaboration in the region, and basing decisions on what is best for the region as a whole.   
  • Supervisor Parker highlighted statistics on employment in different sectors, highlighting the fact that many jobs in Monterey County are in the agriculture and hospitality industries, and that average wages are not sufficient to pay housing and health insurance costs.  By creating a more diverse economy in Monterey County with higher-paying jobs, we can address other social issues as well.
  • The Workforce Investment Board, which consists of 43 board members from the public and private sector, just released a report showing the salaries in Monterey County are $6,000 - $10,000 below the statewide average.  The WIB has agreements with 16 different organizations to provide job services, both for the businesses looking to hire and people who are job-seeking.  Funding for the WIB has been drastically reduced in recent years, although federal stimulus money has helped to temporarily make up the loss of those funds.  
  • There are 3 one-stop career centers in Monterey County, and an on-line center. These centers help people get back into the job market with a variety of services and programs.  The WIB supports the establishing of job training programs at the local community colleges in areas of hiring, such as the medical field.    
  • Data from the Overall Economic Development Commission report was distributed to the group.  The OEDC was created by the Board of Supervisors to receive input from the community on the topic of economic develop; each District appoints three people to the Commission.


SMALL GROUP DISCUSSIONS


Participants were asked to discuss several questions.  First, what principles should guide the County as it proceeds with economic development efforts?  Second, what resources does the community have to offer businesses?  Third, what types of businesses would thrive in our County, what businesses are missing?

The groups worked hard for an hour, recorded their responses, and the following is a summary of their notes:


Question #1 -  Principles 


  • Become known as a great business community, not just known for having a great aquarium.  We need to be seen as a business friendly  community
  • Create a one-stop regional welcome center for prospective businesses
  • Maintain a foundation of existing businesses, but diversity - expand job selection (better paying jobs) 
  • Set aside water allocations for businesses, not just houses
  • Attract low-polluting industries
  • Preserve our unique environment
  • Preserve local businesses
  • Capitalize on talents of workforce and people.
  • Re-Localize our economy
  • Capitalize on our unique resources
  • Encourage infill development
  • Diversify jobs
  • Large employers should listen to employees and be open to innovation.
  • All economic activity and growth should be guided by efficiency measures, adjust processes to be more efficient.
  • Humane Relationships, Quality of life.  
  • Sustainability- water, roads, transportation
  • Affordability- H2O, energy, housing, health care (SF model) 
  • Pay as you go- all services
  • Consistency & Viability- everyone gets treated the same. Ex. Developer impact fees. 
  • Establish common set of goals among multiple jurisdictions
  • Increase broadband infrastructure and transportation.


Question #2  Resources and Constraints


  • Environment provides quality of life, fresh food, marine resources for research, recreation opportunities.
  • Great air quality
  • Mediterranean, moderate climate in central location with unparalleled beauty,  and good soil for farming
  • Business clusters and enterprise zones exist, and we have locations for businesses and a workforce ready to work
  • Freight and rail system
  • Excellent universities and community colleges, and resources for self-development.
  • Educated, ambitious workers, youthful workforce, highly talented workers lacking formal education. 
  • People, ideas, history
  • Diverse cultures
  • Numerous government employers, and jobs in medicine, agricultural technology
  • Nice People, compassionate- with a sense of community 
  • Intellectual and Venture capital available
  • Constraints: Water problem for businesses. Transportation challenges; there is water and land in Marina


Question #3 - What type of businesses would thrive? What’s missing?


  • Eco-tourism/outdoor adventure; can also do more tourism with historical/educational activities 
  • Marine related businesses,  deep ocean diving tourism, research 
  • Adult recreation -  mini golf, equestrian center
  • Small businesses who serve an aging population - home care- concierge services; activities and enhanced facilities for seniors
  • Companies making computer games, film animation, and other Computer tech/ Web tech development
  • Internet based businesses and web-based learning 
  • Can attract more high-tech businesses, biotech, medical, home land security
  • ‘Made in Monterey/Made in America’ goods
  • Home based businesses
  • Light industrial (ex. Fed Ex Center)
  • Arts 
  • Green jobs;  retrofit of cities (PG sewer transportation)
  • Existing conference center events provide jobs.
  • What’s missing: bring back the military, clean manufacturing, integrated community service portals, larger conference and training facilities, business park for research. 

CONCLUSION


While participants had differing opinions on the questions presented above, many participants commented on our unique environment as an asset to Monterey County.  The beautiful scenery, fresh air, fresh food, recreational opportunities, and excellent soil for farming -the quality of life is good here in Monterey County.  However, the lack of jobs with a livable wage continues to affect the quality of life for many workers who cannot afford adequate living space or health insurance.  The County has many resources, and there are a variety of groups and organizations working on economic development, but no central organizing force.  The organizations and agencies working on economic development can collaborate on regional solutions to benefit of the entire County.



ADDITIONAL RESOURCES  


The following websites contain additional information about economic development in Monterey County:


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