VENTURA, Calif. – The Board of Supervisors received a report in June on the implementation of the County of Ventura Economic Vitality Strategic Plan (EVSP). The plan provides a framework to support the county’s long-term economic vitality.
“The County’s Economic Vitality Plan is intended to leverage the existing business support organizations, such as Economic Development Collaborative, cities and community organizations, to improve the local business climate, support local businesses, small and large, through facilitating job training and workforce development, focusing investment in infrastructure such as broadband, supporting the spirit of entrepreneurship and connecting local business to resources,” said County Executive Officer Mike Powers. “When we started, we weren’t sure if the plan and follow up would get much traction, but it really has. The EVSP Steering Committee is fully engaged and enthusiastic about the effort and in particular the regional approach to connecting organizations across the County to support both individuals and businesses in job creation and enhancing their operations.”
“County leadership understands that regulatory requirements of local government can have a significant impact on the residents, businesses and economic vitality of the region. Through this effort, as well as the County’s Lean Six Sigma program, the County is working to develop a more consultative approach,” Powers said.
Though the Economic Vitality Strategic Plan was initiated by the County, it is really led by a collaborative group of leaders including those from the Economic Development Collaborative, the Workforce Development Board, VCEDA, cities, the education system, community organizations such as the Ventura County Community Foundation, the Civic Alliance, Housing Community, the Arts, and other business groups.
“This is a truly collaborative process involving dozens of partners,” said Dr. Rachel Linares, Continuous Process Improvement Manager. “We have now formed a steering committee and by working together with common goals we’re already seeing progress just 18 months after the Board adopted the plan.” Several members of the steering committee spoke at the meeting.
“The Economic Vitality Strategic Plan is informing activity and engaging people for the General Plan activities and providing an integrated approach,” said Bruce Stenslie of the Economic Development Collaborative.
Denise Wise of the City of San Buenaventura Housing Authority was pleased with the collaborative approach. “The involvement of the Economic Vitality Strategic Plan Steering Committee provided an opportunity to work with our peer agencies to knit together partnerships that are functional and benefit the entire county,” she said. “And more broadly, it gives a high-profile view of how working across silos provides more opportunity.”
“I call the Economic Vitality Strategic Plan our competitive advantage,” said Vanessa Bechtel, President and CEO of the Ventura County Community Foundation. “I have been continually in awe of the strength of Ventura County and I believe we’re emerging as a culture where everyone is working together toward a common, shared goal.”
The plan contains a number of focus areas and there has been progress in all of them. Some of the highlights are:
- Economic Development – The Economic Development Collaborative has completed the first study of the Entrepreneurial Ecosystem in the region to identify assets, resources and gaps.
- Workforce Development – The Ventura County Education Summit and 2018 Educational Report to the Community, spearheaded by the P-20 Council and local educational institutions, depicted a broad view of the state of education in the region.
- Housing and Homelessness – The Ventura County Housing Solutions Working Group was formed to identify creative solutions to affordable housing. The County partnered with the city of Ventura to open a permanent, year-round homeless shelter.
- Business Climate, Land Use – Ventura County Economic Development Association is working with the city of Ventura to improve the efficiency of their permitting process.
- Infrastructure – The Clean Power Alliance was created to serve 31 communities within Ventura and Los Angeles counties to offer power through renewable resources.
- County Services, Safety Net – The plan’s steering committee is working to support the Complete Count Committee and align County resources to promote the 2020 Census and provide an accurate count for hard-to-count populations. A complete count is critical to bringing millions of Federal dollars into our region.
- The Creative Economy, Arts and Culture – The first draft of an actionable three-year plan for developing a countywide Creative Economy Initiative has been created.
- Marketing, Branding – The County created a website dedicated to the Economic Vitality Strategic Plan, providing an overview of the plan, details on specific focus areas and a library of associated documents.
- Recovery and Resilience – The Economic Development Collaborative led the efforts to support business recovery following the Thomas Fire, Montecito Debris Flow, Borderline Shooting and the Hill and Woolsey fires.
- Diversity and Inclusion – More than half of the plan’s steering committee also serve on the 2020 Census Complete Count Committee, focusing on capturing the most accurate snapshot of Ventura County to secure appropriate levels of representation and funding from the federal government.
“There is a very active community at work supporting economic vitality in our region,” said Powers. “And the County is proud to act as a supporter, leader, and convener of the group’s many activities, helping to connect organizations in our community to create opportunity and advancement for all.”
For more information on the Ventura County Economic Vitality Strategic Plan, go to www.vcevsp.org. A website – www.venturacountygrowsbusiness.com – is available to connect local businesses with support services and promote the retention and growth of businesses within the County. And finally, the Economic Development Collaborative updated their website to clearly outline core programs and provide Spanish translations for all core program pages. It can be found at www.edcollaborative.com.