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PROSPERITY 2012: How it will work, what you can do

Thu, 02/02/2012 - 2:42pm -- Jacqueline Debets

This is the first in a series of blog posts about Humboldt’s economy. We’ll be talking about our Target industries, how they are growing, the impact of the recession, the opportunities they offer, the challenges they face, the businesses and people leading them, and how you can make the most of these opportunities.

This first post is about the Prosperity 2012 process. It’s a robust process, designed to engage citizens, business owners, non-profit, education and community leaders over 15 months. So it’s also a little complicated. I’ll do my best to explain it simply.

How far have we come? Where are we going? With all the complication and competing clamors for our attention, it’s hard to see what’s different, much less acknowledge accomplishment, and plan for our future.

But it’s important. The effort we put in to set our future goals and how we’re going to reach them will make all the difference in how our lives, and our community, will be for ourselves and our children. Prosperity 2012 is the process to set our community’s economic direction.

History of Economic Development

The kick off is this Saturday, February 4th at Arts Alive. Please come see the History of Economic Development Gallery Walk presented at the former CinCin Restaurant, 3rd and E Streets, in Old Town, Eureka. We’re also celebrating the latest and greatest economic development accomplishment—the 2nd fiber optic line is live! Come toast with a Lost Coast Brewery beer, and thanks to Pacific Gas & Electric, fresh pizza, baked in this restaurant space’s brick-oven.

Why beer?

Well, that’s also a clue to how our economy has changed. The Target of Opportunity industries have grown up to be over 50% of our private sector payroll and 42% of our private sector jobs. These industries offer the most opportunity for high wage jobs, entrepreneurship and increasing exports. Specialty Food, Flowers & Beverages is one of these promising industries. Our region has 5 times more beverage manufacturing jobs than the state of California on average. What do you think that beverage is? Micro-brewed beer, of course—we are the craft beer capital of California!

How could we make the most of this opportunity and the many others offered by the Target industries? How could we grow good jobs and improve the quality of Humboldt life? How could we have everything we need to consider ourselves fortunate or successful? This is the focus of Prosperity 2012.

How can I have a say?

You can participate in following ways (in increasing order of time commitment). Sign up at here to get regular reports and invitations to events.

  • Read and talk about Targets:  We’re going to be blogging about Target industries, so everyone can understand the data, why these industries are important and where the opportunities and challenges lay. The original CEDS—Prosperity! The North Coast Strategy—has guided us for a decade. It’s the launching point, philosophically. 
  • Business Leader Luncheons:  Come to lunch and listen to business leaders in each industry talk about the opportunities and challenges their industry faces. The first one is Friday, March 16, Noon-2pm in the Plaza View Room, where we’ll hear from leaders in Niche Manufacturing and Building and Systems Construction.
  • Prosperity 2012 meetings:  Participate in the joint-public meetings, co-hosted by RREDC, the WIB and the Headwaters Fund Board. The first one is Friday, February 17th, 9am-1pm at the HCOE-Sequoia Room. There we’ll look more deeply into Targets of Opportunity industries and get the Action Teams started.
  • Action Teams:  Work on an idea or challenge that you feel is important. Feed in recommendations for actions that you as a citizen, local government, businesses or non-profits could take to build our best possible economy. To understand more about the role of action teams, read the overview.

What’s the outcome?

Prosperity 2012 will result in four guiding documents, and an engaged community to implement them:

  1. An economic development strategy, updated to reflect our economy today and for the foreseeable future;
  2. An action plan to implement that strategy for 5 years;
  3. A prioritized infrastructure list for public works investment; and
  4. An evaluation methodology to see how our investments are getting us to our goals

Together, these documents will be our county’s Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (EDA CEDS Flyer). The CEDS will guide all public investments in economic development.

Who decides?

Prosperity 2012 has been designed to engage citizens, non-profit leaders, education, elected officials and business owners. The Redwood Region Economic Development Commission (RREDC) and Headwaters Fund boards will review and make a recommendation about the new CEDS to the Workforce Investment Board (WIB), which will ultimately recommend that the Board of Supervisors adopt the CEDS in the first quarter of 2013. Everyone who participates will have an impact on the final product.

Why are these boards co-hosting?

The charter of the Headwaters Fund directs that its funding implement the CEDS. That’s a tremendous advantage to our community:  funding to carry out actions, and to leverage in additional funds.

RREDC has an economic development mission under a joint-powers authority of the cities, county and community service districts, so is the conduit for their input to and implementation of the CEDS.

Workforce is clearly an important part of any economy, and like the Headwaters Fund, the WIB has funding and policies that can implement the CEDS. The WIB’s membership includes a cross-section of business (51% is business owners), non-profit, education, union and tribal leaders, which is the required composition of a CEDS strategy committee, and so will serve in that capacity. (That way, we don’t have to form a whole new committee!) The CEDS will be filed with the US Economic Development Administration (EDA CEDS Flyer).

How is business involved?

These boards believe strongly in business as the source of economic development.  Prosperity 2012 is a business-led process in two ways. First, the industries—the economic data shows that these 8 industries provide the most opportunity for generating prosperity—so we’re focusing on them:

  • Diversified Health Care
  • Specialty Food, Flowers & Beverages
  • Building and Systems Construction & Maintenance
  • Financial Support Services
  • Management & Innovation Services
  • Niche Manufacturing
  • Forest Products
  • Tourism

Each industry has a work-plan, and we have produced a cross-cluster work-plan that highlights the opportunities and challenges that multiple industries share. The Prosperity Network of economic development agencies worked with a cross-section of leaders in each industry in 2010-2011 to produce these strategic documents for the clusters.

Second, an Industry Leader Council (ILC) of a dozen business owners from the Target industries and the greater economy will advise staff on what makes the most sense to put forward in the strategy, action plan and evaluation methodology.

How are infrastructure priorities being set?

Infrastructure priorities will be identified on two levels. One, the ILC will put forth a set of priorities for infrastructure investment that will meet the greater needs of the Target industries. Two, the cities, community services districts and county staff (Infrastructure Prioritization Committee, or IPC) will compile and prioritize a set of public works projects that reflect industry and community needs. This prioritized infrastructure structure list determines what projects EDA and other agencies will fund.

When are the meetings?

All the ideas from the action participants, industry leaders, staff and members of the hosting boards will come together in the joint-public meetings of Prosperity 2012. We’ll look at them together, ask questions, give feedback, and form new ideas. Each meeting will see a progression of ideas for the CEDS. For more detail, look at the overview. Or here if you just want the process map.

Here’s the basic timeline, confirmed meetings and process flow. Places could change, so stay tuned.

January-June 2012:  listen, research, discuss, and generate ideas

    February 17, 9am-1pm, HCOE, Sequoia Room

  • Review economic data
  • Launch action teams

    April 20, 9-1pm, HCOE, Sequoia Room

  • Hear initial ideas form Action Teams
  • Review initial infrastructure priorities
  • Discuss and feedback on goals, values, strategies
  • Focus on actions for each sector:  government, business, non-profit and citizen/resident

     June 15, 9am-1pm, HCOE Sequoia Room

  • Final recommendations from Action Teams
  • Discuss and feedback on draft ideas for strategy, action plan, infrastructure, evaluation methodology

July-September 2012:  compile & craft draft documents

    October 19, 9am-1pm

  • Review draft CEDS, including:  strategy, action plan, infrastructure list, evaluation methodology
  • Discuss and feedback
  • Recommendations

October-December 2012:  RREDC, Headwaters and WIB conduct final deliberations on recommending CEDS

January 2013:  public review of recommended draft CEDS

March 2013:  Board of Supervisors considers adoption of CEDS

Please jump in! The Prosperity 2012 will be a success when people see how they can make a difference in the economy. While the staff and leadership of economic development organizations have an important role to play, they don’t have the ability to affect all areas of our economy and community. Businesses have their resources and influence. Non-profits have their strengths and role. Citizens also have resources and a key role to play. It’s up to each of us to use our sphere of influence to make the best investments for our economy.

~Jacqueline

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Copyright © North Coast Prosperity. Prosperity! is the official economic development strategy of the North Coast Region of California, including Del Norte, Humboldt, Mendocino, Siskiyou, and Trinity Countries.