Road to the Summit: Message in San Luis Obispo is let’s work together

150 150 Ed Coghlan

What needs fixing in the SLO economy, and how do we fix it? (Photo: Susan Lovenburg)

The California Economy is improving. Of course, that is in the aggregate because California is not one economy, but rather a series of regional economies.

This week, economic and government leaders from San Luis Obispo County in the Central Coast of California gathered to ponder the question of how the region’s economic priorities can be met through collaboration with larger regional and statewide initiatives.

It was part of a series of regional meetings that are taking place around California in advance of the California Economic Summit that will be held in Los Angeles in November.

(Here’s SLO Tribune News reporter Julia Hickey’s summary of the meeting)

The Summit process has been underway for over a year now, gathering regional input in order to inform a larger set of signature initiatives that are seen as key to improving job creation in California and the state’s ability to compete in the global economy of the 21st century. The state’s place in the larger marketplace was magnified with Governor Brown’s recent trip to China, for which we spoke with Kish Rajan, the head of the Governor’s office of business and economic development about the trip’s implications.

In San Luis Obispo, the focus on the local economy inspired some interesting discussion.  A recent industry cluster analysis shows growth in building design and construction, knowledge and innovation services, and health services. Further analysis of promising trends was detailed in the Briefing Book prepped for the forum participants.

“It was energizing to watch local leaders exploring new ways to advance their local economic priorities in collaboration with regions around the state,” said Susan Lovenburg of California Forward, one of the two sponsors of the California Economic Summit.

Like many other areas in California, ways to improve workforce education so that there is a supply of local workers available for local industry was emphasized.

Also, the infrastructure needs of the area were discussed, which is another issue that is commonly highlighted these days in other regions across California. Some of the needs brought up as specific to the region were improved water storage and acquisition, broadband, and transportation issues – especially roads.

As one participant said, “the state or federal officials need to increase transportation revenues, and/or  give us the tools to do so.”

Related: If infrastructure is a critical issue for you, whether it’s roads, water or public transit, let us know what you think and how it can be paid for in this short  survey.

And as there usually is when economic development is discussed, local leaders turned their attention to streamlining and modernizing government regulation, particularly the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), a topic we’ve covered extensively every step of the way on its path toward possible reform.

As one spokesperson at the meeting said, CEQA modernization could help jump start progress for businesses, solar facilities and transportation projects in San Luis Obispo.

This meeting was one of sixteen regional sessions across California taking place through June. Get more info and sign up to attend on the Regional Forum page of California Economic Summit.


Ed Coghlan

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