The Union: Lack of leadership cited in Nevada County economic development talks
One thing was clear Wednesday at a roundtable discussion on how to grow Nevada County’s economy: the various stakeholders do not have a unified vision of a strategy to accomplish that task. “One of the challenges we’ve had as a community is to get a common goal and focus,” said Nevada County Supervisor Terry Lamphier.
This is nothing new. Every ERC leader from Larry Burkhrdt this first CEO to Robert Trent that last CEO has attempted to establish a unified vision for Nevada County, and every attempt has failed. For almost 20 years the ERC has held planning sessions, retreats, strategy councils, and the community just cannot agree on what kind of community we want to be in 10 years.
When Gil Mathew took over the leadership role he was charge with developing a Comprehensive Economic Development Plan. The initial plan was written, but it never made it through the coordination process. Everyone wants to add their favorite program to the mix and it became a mis-mash of ideas and pet projects. There was no clear vision for where the ERC should focus.
When you have limited resources, they have to be focused on a limited number initiatives. But, first the community has to agree on which initiative should be the focus. Unfortunately we as a community are incapable of coming to some agreement.
In my mind there are three legs to the economic development stool that we should be focusing on:
Leg One: Information technology. The creation of wealth through the manipulation of bytes and bits. The jobs of tomorrow are directly connected to the computer and the networks of computers.
Leg Two: People Services. We should be known for the best schools, the best medical services and the best government and the fastest Internet in the foothills in homes and businesses.
Leg Three: Create a Brentwood of the Foothills and entice as many wealthy retired folks as possible. We have the climate, the recreation, the restaurants, and the arts that these retires desire, but lack the infrastructure to meet the needs of these wealthy retires.
George Rebane wrote an excellent post on the issues in March of 2008 HERE.
Yet, we are no closer today than we were in 2008, seven years ago. We can create, fix enhance all there legs of the economic stool, but not unless we all agree this is where we want to focus or limited economic development resources and volunteer energy.
We can get there is we know where we are going. The missing element is effective leadership. A strong visionary leader will be necessary to bring the disparate groups together. Where is that leadership going to come from?