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Economic Development Corp. moves forward

While awaiting nonprofit status, organization develops plans to help local businesses, economy

Posted: October 14, 2009 9:19 p.m.
Updated: October 15, 2009 5:30 a.m.

To improve local business and attract new industry to the valley, the newly formed Economic Development Corp. asked the city to become a founding member of the organization at this week's Santa Clarita City Council meeting.

Forming an economic development corporation was part of the city's 21-point economic stimulus plan to encourage growth in the Santa Clarita Valley despite the recession.

"The fundamental mission of the organization is to form an entity that can help focus various elements of the city for the benefit of local business," Bill Kennedy, a member of the organization's board of directors, said in an interview Wednesday.

Kennedy, who is also chairman of the Santa Clarita Valley Chamber of Commerce, updated the City Council on the corporation's progress Tuesday night.

The organization wants to create a business assistance resource center that would be used to educate business owners on various programs Santa Clarita has devised to help businesses save money - like the Enterprise Zone, which provides vouchers for hiring-tax credits.

The city received 180 vouchers in September, the highest number received since the program began in 2007.

To stay responsive to the changing needs of the community, the corporation will also invest in a data analysis office to determine the health of the local economy, Kennedy said.

Providing relevant information to businesses will be crucial in building the local economy, he said.

"Economic development flows from innovation," said Kennedy. "Santa Clarita already has a great reputation for innovation and creative thinking. That's what we're trying to tap into."

The corporation has also devised an online registry it hopes will strengthen networking and communication among local businesses.

The business community has been vocal about the need to create an online directory, Kennedy said.

Modeled after similar organizations from across the state, the corporation is currently waiting for the IRS to authorize the organization as a nonprofit, which could take several more months, Kennedy said.

In the meantime, it's still raising money to get several programs off the ground. The organization will try raising $520,000 within its first year by applying for government funding from the city and state and asking for private and public donations.

One way the organization will be unique, as compared to the Santa Clarita Chamber of Commerce, is in how it will focus on helping local business, Kennedy said.

While the Chamber of Commerce focuses more narrowly on the local economy, the corporation will look to attract a variety of different businesses from outside of the city and state, he said.


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