Ivan V. Natividad
Staff Writer

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March 10, 2014
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Nevada County Economic Resource Council takes a 'strategic' step forward

The Nevada County Economic Resource Council took some first steps under new leadership last week, when its members approved a business plan aiming to grow Nevada County’s economy by developing local companies and attracting business relocation into the area.

ERC Executive Director Jon Gregory on Thursday presented the executive business plan, a strategy created by the ERC board of directors that focuses on growing the local economic pie.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better outcome,” Gregory told The Union. “As you saw around the room, I think board members and community stakeholders are really looking for a strategic direction where they can plug into the local economy in a manner that helps us attract and develop business in Nevada County.”

Based on three key initiatives, the plan will require the ERC to outsource business expertise to support local companies they believe have high growth potential, hold quarterly local tours to attract out-of-county prospective businesses looking to relocate and organize an annual competition for 10 businesses to vie for a countywide prize — a combination of cash and services — if they relocate to Nevada County.

Gregory has identified several companies in the county he thinks would work well in terms of the council’s plan.

“A great example of a new one is the new Three Forks Bakery and microbrewery in Nevada City. They successfully implemented a kick-start campaign and their plan is to create a meaningful number of jobs. We also have Telestream, which has become an industry icon in the video technology industry,” Gregory said.

“BriarPatch Co-Op — me and the wife were in there last night and it’s just bursting at the seams,” he continued.

“So we’ve really got this blend of small businesses that have these meaningful products or services, along with these technology companies in the county.”

The next step in implementing the business initiatives, Gregory said, is to create a work plan and for ERC committee leaders to choose initiatives to work on, moving forward.

Board member and Sierra College Executive Dean Stephanie Ortiz finds the ERC plan to be beneficial to not only the local economy, but also to the work that she does at the college.

“For me and my organization, the college, I can take these initiatives and show them to my staff to have a conversation about what our part is in this,” Ortiz said. “These initiatives facilitate a conversation that is needed. I’m in full support, but to do this, we have to come together.”

“In a very short period of time, we went from having a new executive director to having an executive plan,” said Debbie Plass, vice president of marketing and business development at Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital.

“Now we have some leverage over the next year or two or three to be able to grow the economy.”

For Dr. Louise Johnson, Nevada Joint Union High School District superintendent, the plan has the potential to also impact school district enrollment, which she said has continued to dwindle.

“These initiatives are essential,” she said. “Good jobs for families will bring enrollment up in our high schools.”

Grass Valley City Council member Howard Levine cautioned that the county has local issues that will need to be addressed in order for the initiatives to work.

“In Grass Valley we don’t have a welcome sign. How do you do a red carpet welcome to a business without a welcome sign?” Levine said. “We have to clean up a lot of stuff to make us an attractive destination for people again.”

Levine added, “We have to get rid of those damn repetitive stories about 2 grams of cocaine in somebody’s pocket and a whole lot of things that need to happen collectively with law enforcement and other agencies. That’s the amount of work that has to be done also by the community and the leadership in the community, and it’s something we can’t forget about when we talk about all these other projects.”

Contact Staff Writer Ivan V. Natividad at inatividad@theunion.com or at 530-477-4236.

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The Union Updated Mar 12, 2014 11:44AM Published Mar 10, 2014 10:13PM Copyright 2014 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.