Ivan Natividad

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April 3, 2014
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ERC plan focused on Nevada County lifestyle, potential university

Nevada County’s Economic Resource Council met Thursday morning to discuss the implementation of the group’s new strategic plan, which focuses on growing the county’s economy by supporting local businesses, and relocating companies into the county that have high growth potential.

The council’s sales pitch to bring businesses into the area will center around promoting the county’s natural lifestyle and small-town appeal.

“Industries that we can at least tie back to this lifestyle basis are the ones we would target for relocation,” ERC Executive Director Jon Gregory told The Union.

Gregory presented branding ideas to the council that he hopes will attract the right types of businesses to the county, which include slogans like, “Nevada County ‘Lifestyle Capital of the World – We Dare You to Live Well!’”

The council has also put together criteria companies must meet in order for them to be considered for relocation.

“The size of the company, for example, needs to be 10-100 employees. The length of time in business, at least three years, and the area code of origin would either be 415 or 510,” Gregory said.

The group would take these requirements to the Chico State University Center for Economic Development, which would then plug the information into a data system that would provide a list of companies that fit the council’s criteria.

Gregory said after obtaining the list of businesses, they would start a campaign to reach out to those companies, and, in addition, find CEOs in Nevada County that have interest in specific companies on the list.

“We want to bring these companies up here,” Gregory said. “But we’re also trying to add value to the people we engage, by having them meet with somebody they otherwise might not know.”

Stephanie Ortiz, executive dean of Nevada County Sierra College, has taken on the role of chair for the council’s task force that will focus on developing and supporting existing local businesses. The council plans to provide business expertise, and volunteer more than 200 hours to individual companies they believe have high growth potential.

Ortiz says that the task force is still in the process of identifying the businesses they want to support in the community, and that they will meet on April 21 to work on providing the council with a list of companies to choose from. As an educator, Ortiz told board members that she, along with Gregory, have been in talks with groups like Cisco Systems, and California State University, about possibly bringing university-level education to Nevada County.

“We are in the very beginning phases of discussion about this,” Ortiz told The Union. “But we’re very glad to have this focused conversation with a company like Cisco Systems, who have a track record for bringing university level educational opportunities to areas around the world.”

Gregory said in May, members of the ERC, local education providers, Cisco Systems, CSU senior officials, and businesses that have an expressed desire for university education in the county, will meet to assess what the collective objective around the community is, toward possible university level opportunities for students in Nevada County.

“We don’t exactly know what everybody thinks,” Gregory said. “Tech companies want to fuel a pipeline of talent for the companies, because most of the best and brightest students of Nevada County end up leaving the area, so a university in the area would keep that group here.”

Gregory told The Union that his interests are to take a top engineering school, like Chico State, and bring it to Nevada County.

“That’s what my interests are, but that may not be the same as everybody else’s, so that’s why we are meeting with everyone, to find out what we all want,” Gregory said.

While Gregory says there is still a lot of work to be done in the new strategic plan, its implementation has been stellar.

“I am overjoyed with the progress that I’ve seen just in the first month of activity,” Gregory said. “All of our task forces for each initiative have a chair or cochair, or both. We have a meaningful number of participants from within the board and outside the board, engaged. We also have some media outlets that we have met with that are engaged in what our plan can do for the county.”

To contact Staff Writer Ivan Natividad, email inatividad@theunion.com or call 530-477-4236.

“Tech companies want to fuel a pipeline of talent for the companies, because most of the best and brightest students of Nevada County end up leaving the area, so a university in the area would keep that group here.”
ERC Executive Director Jon Gregory

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The Union Updated Apr 4, 2014 08:46AM Published Apr 4, 2014 11:20PM Copyright 2014 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.