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Economic Development Corporation ramps up

City officials expect agency will attract new businesses

Posted: December 27, 2009 10:07 p.m.
Updated: December 28, 2009 4:55 a.m.
 

When it starts up after the New Year, city officials are hoping their $200,000 investment in an economic development corporation will provide better information on the valley's local economy and attract new business to Santa Clarita.

Economic development corporations are used by dozens of other cities and counties throughout the state to both attract new businesses and provide resources and services for business owners, said City Manager Ken Pulskamp.

City officials have studied about 15 other economic development corporations, using them as a blueprint to figure out how Santa Clarita's corporation will work, he said.

The Economic Development Collaborative of Ventura County is one corporation the city is using as a comparison. The Ventura County collaborative is much larger than what the Santa Clarita's corporation will end up being - the collaborative works with 10 cities - but should offer similar programs.

The collaborative offers businesses loans, grants and educational resources.

It provides a host of seminars and classes for small business owners on a variety of topics - from advertising to becoming more eco-friendly.

The collaborative also analyzes local economic data, something Pulskamp said Santa Clarita's will also provide.

The corporation will develop an online directory that will be used, in part, to figure out what types of businesses aren't currently in Santa Clarita.

The corporation will also take over the city's Think Santa Clarita program that encourages residents to shop and spend locally, Pulskamp said.

Since being awarded funding from the City Council in November, the corporation has secured office space and hired a marketing firm to make a logo and advertising strategy, said corporation board member Bill Kennedy.

The corporation will begin looking to hire an executive director this week, Kennedy said. Once a director is hired, it can begin hiring staff.

Board members hope to be up and running a few months after the New Year, but the exact time will depend on when the IRS grants the corporation non-profit status, Kennedy said.

The non-profit application was sent in August but has been delayed for months because the IRS has been overwhelmed with non-profit requests, Kennedy said.

The City Council gave the corporation $75,000 in November, and promised to match up to $125,000 in donations from the county and other local businesses, Pulskamp said.

While the corporation waits for its non-profit status to be approved, board members have been securing donations from local businesses. So far they have received about $70,000, Kennedy said.

Once the corporation is given non-profit status, it should receive about $100,000 in additional donations from local businesses, Kennedy said.

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