Central Coast: Are you listening California?

150 150 Susan Lovenburg

The Central Coast of California added its collective voice to the chorus of Regional Economic Forums that are exploring how to improve job creation and expand California’s competitiveness in the global economy.

On Wednesday the Economic Vitality Corporation, under the direction of President Michael Manchak, convened a group of business and civic leaders on the Cal Poly SLO campus to review regional priorities for economic development and to identify state actions to support these priorities.

Having worked extensively together on the Economic Strategy Project, this group was primed and ready to go. The project was completed in November 2010 after more than 12 months of work and multiple strategy sessions involving more than 125 business leaders throughout the region.

The Economic Strategy for SLO County is being successfully implemented and is creating economic vitality through the collaboration of local business leaders across six business sectors. These cluster groups – building design and construction, green energy, health services, knowledge and innovation, specialized manufacturing and “Uniquely SLO County” – are dedicated to creating jobs and making it easier to conduct and grow business. County planners have begun to incorporate economic metrics in their analyses of potential projects.

As attention turned to state support of regional prosperity, forum participants had several suggestions:

  • Grow the capacity of California’s public colleges and universities to prepare more students in the high-demand occupations and careers of their regions.
  • Encourage deployment of new information technologies such as high-bandwidth communications networks.
  • Increase private-sector funding of infrastructure by extending legislative authority for public-private partnerships.
  • Make the expertise of community colleges and universities more accessible to help small businesses pursue innovation.
  • Support regional efforts to expand access to capital for innovation in companies.

Many of these suggestions are in line with what other Californians are saying in their regions. How to prepare our workforce, improve our infrastructure, encourage innovation and streamline regulations are consistent themes that will be discussed in May at the California Economic Summit.

Participants expressed a desire to see Governor Jerry Brown and state legislators at the Summit on May 11 in Santa Clara.  “Is California listening?,” they asked.


Susan Lovenburg

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