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Community leaders should focus on jobs

As part of this past year’s Nevada County Community Leadership Institute, our subgroup addressed economic development in the county. This article provides promised follow-up to two earlier The Union articles and a mid-June presentation to the public and a panel that included two county supervisors and other public leaders.

In tackling this complex issue, we collected the usual background information, interviewed key community leaders, and attended related meetings. Differently, we reached out to and engaged the public through The Union articles in which we provided background and solicited public input.

Responses were thoughtful and covered the full spectrum, from NIMBY to “anything goes.” The bulk of responses actually proved fairly centrist and balanced and generally supportive of the need for good local jobs and a vibrant, balanced economy. Emphatically, the public does not want to become another Roseville. While many groups are involved in various aspects of economic development (Chambers, Economic Resource Council, downtown associations, …), it’s not clear who’s leading.

Clearly, growth is coming. A key question is: “What kind and can we influence it?” Economic growth means many things to many people, and it is easy to get sidetracked on important, related issues (e.g., housing, roads, schools). Our focus, however, was on good local jobs.

We believe that there is a unique opportunity and need for an increased proactive government role, differing from a regulatory or reactive one. Our view is not one of central planning, but a role which is clear in its communication and support on economic development. Such involvement is consistent with their publicly stated goals.

We recommend that the Nevada County Board of Supervisors, in conjunction with cities and other public groups, adopt a key role by:

Communicating clear policy and tone to staff economic development;

Regularly update the public on related issues, policy, actions and responsibilities;

Add attention to related infrastructure needs (e.g., land use, traffic, education, broadband).

Audience reaction to our presentation proved supportive and we hope that the Board of Supervisors, along with other government groups, will provide further economic development support, allowing the Economic Resource Council and other related groups to better support our economy and residents.

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Rose Asquith, Chris Crain, Patty Park and Carol Wong were participants in the annual Nevada County Leadership Institute program.