Our take: Signs of progress in efforts to improve Ventura County’s business climate

from
Tony Biazotti

Friday, September 9, 2022

Economic development has become a hot topic in Ventura County thanks to several recent reports highlighting the deep crisis in housing affordability and the dearth of jobs per household.

The issue has spilled over into Ventura County politics, where county supervisor candidate and former Assemblyman Jeff Gorrell has talked about creating a “Ventura County Gold Team” to help local businesses and also introduce the county to potential new employers.

The “Gold Team” concept is one Gorell worked on with then-Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom in the Jerry Brown era. When we spoke with Gorrell on the phone recently, he mentioned the idea of ​​starting by sitting down with large employers to understand their needs.

Ventura County leaders, meanwhile, are debating how to revive the economic vitality efforts that led to the creation of an economic component to the county’s general plan. One of former CEO Mike Powers’ signature projects, that effort is poised for a reboot after Sevet Johnson was tapped to replace him.

Finally, discussions continue about the future of VCEDA, the Ventura County Economic Development Association, which suspended its annual conference and other live activities during the pandemic.

Pacific Coast Business Times is an active participant in the county’s economic agenda and discussions regarding VCEDA. We do not endorse political candidates, but we agree with former VCEDA CEO Bill Burato that something like the Gold Team’s efforts could be part of a “proactive effort” to promote a stronger economy.

Despite the negative headlines, Ventura County’s economy has proven to be quite resilient. County government is in sound fiscal shape and the county’s business community has excellent resources through the Economic Development Partnership, its Small Business Development Center and Industry Council to support startups and established businesses. EDC has made remarkable progress in creating partnerships with Naval Base Ventura County and Women’s Economic Ventures is active in its support of small and emerging companies.

Ventura County does have a variant of the Santa Barbara disease, where decades of growth restrictions have squeezed the middle class and made home ownership very difficult for a new generation.

This may be an opportune time to advance the conversation without the stigma attached to economic development as a concept. Bringing business to the table is not easy, but it will be worth the effort. Especially if there is an easy-to-communicate architecture for economic development across the area.

UNEXPECTED TURN IN THE DIVE BOAT CASE

In the continuing saga of one of the worst maritime disasters in recent memory, a federal judge in Los Angeles has dismissed the indictment against the captain of the Conception dive boat.

In case you forgot, the Conception caught fire and sank off the coast of Santa Barbara three years ago, taking 34 lives. As a result, there was a significant rewriting of commercial boating safety rules in US waters. But victims’ families have repeatedly been stymied in their efforts to bring them to justice or jail.

The criminal charge was dismissed because the charging documents alleged “negligence” rather than “gross negligence” as required by law. We appreciate the court’s attention to detail, but we, like many others, expect these charges to be brought up again and the case to proceed.

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