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Increasing the workforce top priority for planners

SCV leaders learn new ways to create local jobs

Posted: February 5, 2009 12:44 a.m.
Updated: February 5, 2009 4:55 a.m.

No matter how complicated the plan sounds, the goal of developing the county's first comprehensive strategic plan is simply to create jobs.

The Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation is refining Los Angeles County's strategic economic plan and invited Santa Clarita Valley business and civic leaders to chime in at a meeting Wednesday at College of the Canyons.

"When I joined the LAEDC in '06, I realized there was no consensus plan for economic development for the county," said Bill Allen, president and CEO.

A few years later, the corporation has drafted a plan and presented it to eight Los Angeles county cities, Allen said.

"We have a collection of more than 90 minds coming together to create one economic development plan," said Santa Clarita Valley Chamber of Commerce President Larry Mankin. "Hopefully this allows us to get a buy-in from educational leaders, developers, business leaders, government - each of those entities that are here."

Allen led the business symposium with a Powerpoint presentation outlining the plan, which stresses educated work forces, smart land use, 21st-century infrastructure, attractive quality of life and business-friendly environments.

A group led by Valley Industrial Association President Kathy Norris suggested creating a valley-wide wireless Internet system.

"The more cutting-edge the city, the more it's going to attract businesses in," said Drew Kaplan, a local CEO.

A group led by Bill Kennedy, Santa Clarita Valley Chamber of Commerce Chairman, suggested public transportation discounts for commuters traveling to jobs outside the valley.

"If we want to be more business friendly, we have to come up with means to get rid of that commute or rationalize public transportation with jobs sites and times," Kennedy said.

Members of the workforce education discussion group suggested more collaboration between the city, schools and businesses to create apprenticeships and mentorships to train students for local high-paying jobs.

Chamber of Commerce member Kim Rice of TelePacific Communications said she was impressed by the event.

"It lets you know that Santa Clarita is very involved in its future and it's not just waiting on the sidelines for someone (like the state) to make its decisions for it," Rice said.

About a year ago, the Development Corporation conducted a survey with over 5,000 businesses that contributed to the vast majority of employment growth over the last five years, Allen said. Following that survey and additional focus groups, the corporation nailed down the five basic challenges, facing businesses.

"We then looked at 30 cities around the world - 20 in the country - to see what they were doing to address these challenges," Allen said.

From there, the corporation narrowed down a plan to address business-friendly environment, infrastructure, workforce education, land use and quality of life.


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