Key community leaders representing a wide range of government, business and educational interests from throughout Lake County gathered on Aug. 23 at the Lake County Campus of Woodland Community College in Clearlake for the Economic Outlook & Forecast II, “Maximizing Lake County’s Opportunities.”
The keynote speaker, Robert Eyler, Ph.D., president of Economic Forensics and Analytics, Inc., and professor and chair of economics at Sonoma State University, focused his presentation on Lake County’s evolving economy and workforce.
He stressed the importance of working regionally and developing key partnerships to take advantage of Lake County’s economic opportunities, encouraging the audience to think five to 10 years out.
Eyler shared both “bad and ugly” points and the “good and opportunities” during his one-hour presentation. He addressed housing considerations through 2020, noting that there is room for cumulative growth in the number of housing units in Lake County and that housing price growth in Lake County is below the average in California. Eyler also discussed the need to develop a Lake County brand and marketing strategy, emphasizing, “solutions cannot happen from inside Lake County alone.”
Eyler kept the audience of close to 70 community members engaged throughout his thought-provoking presentation. He finished the afternoon session with a clear list of suggested action steps.
One of which was, deciding which four industries should be the focus of economic development for the next five years: tourism, hospitality, agriculture and light manufacturing.
Also discussed was the need to identify partners in economic development efforts and their roles, emphasizing public and private sector partnerships, as well as education, workforce and workforce collaboration to meet the needs of existing and potential Lake County businesses.
Overall, his message is positive: the economy is good and continues to show forward, steady progress. He summarized with a challenge to the audience: Where is the planning and the nexus of economic development and workforce training?
Those in attendance represented business and development, education, social services, agriculture, banking and finance, real estate, business associations and communities, as well as county and city government. Dr. Michael White, president of Woodland Community College; Dr. Douglas Houston, chancellor of Yuba Community College District; and Brock Falkenberg, Lake County Superintendent of Schools, also participated.
District 3 Supervisor Jim Steele represented the Lake County Board of Supervisors and members of the Lakeport and Clearlake city councils with staff were present. The offices of state Sen. Mike McGuire and Assemblymember Cecilia Aguiar-Curry were represented and the event was supported by Brad Onorato of Congressman Mike Thompson’s office.
Other speakers included Bruce Wilson, executive director, Workforce Alliance of the North Bay; Andy Lucas, Lake County Economic Development Corporation; and Executive Dean Annette Lee, Lake County Campus of Woodland Community College. At the close of the presentation, attendees were treated to the hospitality and expertise of students enrolled in the college’s culinary management program.
The event was coordinated on behalf of the Workforce Alliance of the North Bay and the Lake County Economic Development Corporation, hosted by the Lake County Campus of Woodland Community College, and supported by the Lake County Chamber of Commerce.
The first Economic Outlook & Forecast event was held in December 2015. In September of 2015, Lake County was impacted by the Valley fire, the third most destructive fire in California history, which destroyed nearly 1,300 homes. In 2016, the Clayton fire destroyed nearly 200 homes and much of Main Street in the town of Lower Lake.
Monica Rosenthal is a member of the board of directors of the Lake County Economic Development Corporation and the Workforce Alliance of the North Bay, a private business owner, and active in the Middletown Area Merchants Association, an organization focused on promoting and supporting local businesses and business owners.
For more information about economic development and workforce development in Lake County, visit www.lakecountycaedc.org.