WatchSonoma Watch

County issues plan to spark local economy


Two Sonoma County supervisors are calling for a $600,000 increase in annual spending on economic development, saying any turnaround in the county’s 9.4 percent unemployment rate and lackluster business environment requires public-sector support.

The recommendations, contained in a seven-month study led by Supervisors Mike McGuire and Efren Carrillo, are set to go before the full Board of Supervisors today.

They include efforts to guide businesses over regulatory hurdles, programs to retain current companies and recruit new ones, a bid to boost workforce training and the creation of business clusters around various segments of the local economy, including health care, manufacturing and agriculture.

The proposals have a five-year timeline and would immediately add four county government jobs, nearly doubling the current staff at the county’s Economic Development Board. Funding, at least in the first year, would come from hotel bed taxes and not from the county’s general fund, which already faces a $16.8 million deficit next fiscal year.

McGuire and Carrillo acknowledged that fiscal crisis, now nearly four years long, but said the extra investment is needed to get the county’s economy back on track.

“I don’t think we can wait for the feds or the state to take action. It’s going to be up to us to drive our economic recovery,” said McGuire.

The two leaders did not assert any primary government role in job creation. Instead, they said, the county must support businesses in those efforts.

“That’s the commitment, for the county to address those needs,” said Carrillo.

Their recommendations seek to address common hurdles to local business investment, including regulatory delays, a shortage of trained workers and insufficient start-up financing, the supervisors said.

But one local fiscal watchdog who applauded their intent said the study may have missed more significant factors — the state’s tax structure and the relatively high cost of living in Sonoma County, for instance — while proposing fixes that could prove ineffective in changing the larger economic picture.

“What that does is create a likelihood of wasting public money,” said Jack Atkin, president of the Sonoma County Taxpayers Association.

The recommendations abut some private-sector ventures, such as the Sonoma Mountain Business Cluster in Rohnert Park, which has fallen far short of its job-creation goals.

They also parallel existing county efforts, including a $300,000 investment in the Santa Rosa Chamber of Commerce-backed Building Economic Success Together, or BEST program, which seeks to create 4,000 local jobs.

McGuire and Carrillo said the new initiatives will not duplicate those existing efforts.

The recommendations are up for tentative approval today and would come back to the board next month or in January for funding decisions.



Click here to read the county’s Economic Development Strategy and Jobs Plan

19 Responses to “County issues plan to spark local economy”

  1. Jade Swanson says:

    Just the title of the article incinuating that the county has the power to “fix” the economy?? The thing that has the power to fix the economy is confidence followed by action. One of the best thing counties and cities can do is stop using “fees” and “penalties’ as a profit center. Feeing businesses and individual to death is no way to grow an economy-give people the ability to create their own jobs. A person with an expensive piece of paper on the wall (a degree), a well-written resume, no job and no money already has enough of a challenge! People need to learn to offer real skills to people who need them-not only skills that can be used in a corporate setting. People will more and more hire you for what you can do (for them), not just what you know and how expensive your piece of paper is. The real jobs are between local people exchanging value in the form of goods and services. This has been the case for thousands of years (without a computer or IPhone!)

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  2. Canthisbe says:

    Anyone actually concerned about increasing jobs in California as opposed to spending more money to further bloat the government class should read:

    The Long Stall
    California’s jobs engine broke down well before the financial crisis.


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  3. Lets be Reasonable says:

    @Reality – I’m not talking about actual spending by government, but rather government control over economic development. In most of these countries, there is heavy central control over which industries are targeted, where R&D is directed, etc.

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  4. ldm says:

    Growing government will not grow the economy.

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  5. The Hammer says:

    Put people to work fixing the County roads!

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  6. Jim says:

    “They also parallel existing county efforts, including a $300,000 investment in the Santa Rosa Chamber of Commerce-backed Building Economic Success Together, or BEST program, which seeks to create 4,000 local jobs”

    HOW? How does government “create” jobs? The federal government can’t. They only use taxpayer money from everyone to keep voters, sorry, union members employed for a year. The feds hire endlessly as government gets more bloated and inefficient. Maybe that is “creating” jobs.

    Since Obama’s trillion dollar waste, typo again, “stimulus” did noting but push the disaster one year into the future, why doesn’t the government try something new?

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  7. Skippy says:

    It becomes so tiresome to have Socialists and Big Govt fans tell me how wonderful life is anywhere other than the US.
    I have no desire to live in
    1. Qatar
    2. Singapore
    3. Paraguay
    4. India
    5. Taiwan
    6. China
    Nor do I wish to model our economy after theirs.
    Grinding poverty; restricted freedoms; regulated markets and oppressive Big Govts are not my style.
    Those who do should live there and write often to tell us how much better things are in a nation that wishes they were the US.

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  8. Greg Karraker says:

    So the BEST plan will create 4,000 new jobs, but will only cost $300,000. That works out to $75 per new job created.

    Studies of Stimulus efforts show that the cost per job was $278,000. http://www.economywatch.com/in-the-news/did-obamas-stimulus-package-cost-us278000-per-job.06-07.htm

    So I feel privileged to live in Sonoma County, where our tax dollars go nearly 4,000 times farther because the Santa Rosa Chamber of Commerce is almost 4,000 times smarter.

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  9. Reality Check says:


    You’re wrong. In all countries you cite, the tax burden and spending by government as a percentage of GDP is lower than the U.S.

    The first number is tax burden; second, govt GDP%:

    Qatar – 4.9% – 27%
    Singapore – 14.2% – 17%
    Paraguay – 11.8% – 14%
    India – 18.6% – 27%
    Taiwan – 12.9% – 18%
    China – 18.0% – 21%

    U.S. 26.9% – 39%

    As you can see, in all of these high-growth countries more capital is left in the private market than the U.S. Taiwan and Singapore are part of the “Asian Tigers,” known for their business-friendly policies. And both China and India largely abandoned their failed socialist economic model years ago. The results are plain to see.

    You’re right, though, govt doesn’t have to be the problem. But, unfortunately, in this economic downturn the U.S. govt is.

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  10. Lets be Reasonable says:

    @Reality – “If allocating resources from the top down worked well, the Soviet Union would have been a paradise.”
    Funny, the top 6 growth countries last year all had mostly top down systems for allocating resources:

    1. Qatar
    2. Singapore
    3. Paraguay
    4. India
    5. Taiwan
    6. China

    Government does not have to be the problem.

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  11. Heyokus says:

    These supervisors think they are Gods, dispensing largesse from their magic fingers. Talk about daydreams of the incompetent. These people are getting crazier and crazier. They want to remake the world in their own image. Too bad they’re so ugly.

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  12. Dogs Rule says:

    Oh please fix the roads, fund schools and quit terrorizing people trying to park in downtown Santa Rosa.

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  13. Jim says:

    Typical government reaction….
    “The proposals have a five-year timeline and would immediately add four county government jobs”

    Spend, spend, spend. When will the Sheeple realize that the government only impedes job creation? Government spending doesn’t create jobs. Hiring at the government level is an expense to the people, not a benefit. Another overpaid union job with a lifelong pension…how does that do anything but INCREASE the deficit?

    Didn’t Obama prove that spending $1 trillion to “stimulate” the economy via paying for union jobs for a year only COSTS money? Sure, increase the pensions for union workers with another year of service…yep, that’ll stimulate the economy. A year later, there is no money left, he wants another $500 billion to kick the can down the road again. Ridiculous.

    I think a required qualification for ALL politicians should be a decade of running a successful business. Then they’d understand how to balance a budget, how to manage money when times are tough. The current crop of morons in office just spend endlessly. NEVER do you hear about cutting a program once started. In the private sector, non-performing products/services are eliminated. In government, programs that THEY rate as POOR get funded year after year. Why is there no outrage???

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  14. Corporate Welfare says:

    A report out last week provides details about how dismally the government funded Sonoma Mountain Village economic development project has performed in terms of job creation. How will the County spending $600k a year provide better results? This is make work for the purposes of the Board being able to say they are actively doing something to bolster the economy. When the investment underperforms, like Sonoma Mountain Village,who will be held accountable? Would it not make more sense to invest this $600k in our roads and infrastructure, which if better maintained might attract business investment?

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  15. Reality Check says:

    If allocating resources from the top down worked well, the Soviet Union would have been a paradise.

    Wisdom is not concentrated in hands of the few, who beneficently dole out scarce resources for the betterment of all. To be blunt, these people of full of themselves. If local government would concentrate its limited resources on maintaining a core infrastructure and let a dispersed market of ideas and capital allocation work its way, we’d all be better off.

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  16. John Johnson says:

    City of Santa Rosa and the County: Bring on the dot.com companies. And don’t hire a consulting group @ $225k to do it. Just take a trip to SF’s AT&T Ball Park area and take a few of the dot.com owners to lunch. We offer space, low rent, great living, and even a fairly good transit system, and we are very bike friendly. We already have the business parks and even the AT&T building is fully wired.
    The dot.com would be a green business, provide good pay and long term futures to SRJC & SSU students, and just about anyone else that is good with a PC and understands using Excel is just about entry level qualified. The company’s client base is the world and usually needing 24 hr staffing coverage – and we in Sonoma are such a better workforce than India, Canada, Mexico, or the Caribbean. We have the people and the technology friendly environment to be a winner. And with so many of us speaking Spanish, also a launching pad for South American dot.coms into the English speaking market. There would be other related areas interested in Sonoma from tech recruiters, the entire world of web based companies, and Silicon Valley companies wanting lower overall operation costs and highly capable/trainable workforce.

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  17. Social Dis-Ease says:

    Public-sector support?
    Ask small business if they feel it.
    Ask small ag. if they feel it.
    Ask a GC/builder if they feel it.
    Ask someone prolific in real estate.

    We don’t want your ‘help’.
    We live in the United States of America,
    the Constitution does not provide for the colution between church and state,
    nor does it provide for colution between the public and private sector in the business landscape.

    There is a name for that…
    it’s called FASCISM.

    It’s supposed to be a Free Market, let’s set it free! Free from Agenda 21 constraints, legislation and oppression.

    All you’ll do is create an agency, a commitee, a board to manufacture consensus for some ‘green’ crap with one of your ‘stake holders’ or ‘public private partners’ benefiting from our subsidy. ‘B’Corp, ring a bell?
    Public Benefit Corporation-Google it.
    Agenda 21 legislation designed, socially engineered to reduce our business landscape to a fascist state.
    The American Constitutional model is not a triangle. It’s a direct line between us and our government swore to uphold same.
    Not to be reconciled through a third body, that picks winners and losers.
    The only ideology is the Constitution;
    a skelatal framework designed to prevent an over stepping government and prevent monopoly while ensuring our Civil Rights.

    Ask the downtown merchants in Petaluma, or Cotati, or Santa Rosa if they feel the love.
    All they feel is over regulated, sabotaged, oppressed and rightly so.
    When you subsidize mall parking, and ruin downtown parking…
    what do you call that?
    Don’t screw me AND placate me, pretend like your my friend.
    It just pisses me off.

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  18. Money Grubber says:

    Uh, we all know EXACTLY who will get all that extra money.

    Government workers. Public employees. Government “programs” designed to keep public employees cozy and on the job while you lose your homes and your cars to foreclosure and repossession.

    Just more theft from the private sector that is being transferred from us to THEM.

    Pay those taxes you fools. The government employee welfare program needs it.

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  19. RICHARD says:

    “They also parallel existing county efforts, including a $300,000 investment in the Santa Rosa Chamber of Commerce-backed Building Economic Success Together, or BEST program, which seeks to create 4,000 local jobs.”

    Chambers of commerce have been telling government to get out of the way. Now they want all the government [tax payer ]money they can get. Socialism for the affluent ?

    Good business sense requires a money back guarantee. Will the chamber guarantee it will create 4000 jobs? Will the county require a guarantee or just give our money away.

    This is a boondoggle. Not one cent of our tax dollars to this scheme!

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