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Two jobs for every home

Officials embark on ambitious plan to keep jobs in Santa Clarita

Posted: October 11, 2008 8:13 p.m.
Updated: December 13, 2008 5:00 a.m.

The Signal's "The Big Picture" series takes a look at growth in the Santa Clarita Valley.

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Sixth installment of "The Big Picture," The Signal's in-depth series on population growth and development in the Santa Clarita Valley. Part 6 looks at plans to create more higher-paying jobs for the Santa Clarita Valley. Click here for the previous stories.

When it comes to employment in the Santa Clarita Valley, city officials have set an exalted goal for the next 20 to 30 years: two local jobs for every house in the valley.

And they’re already at work trying to make it happen.

Currently, more than half of Santa Clarita Valley’s residents commute out of the valley on a daily basis, according to Paul Brotzman, director of community development for the city of Santa Clarita.

“From a sustainability point of view, you’re burning up lots of hydrocarbons sitting on that freeway in those long commutes,” he noted.

Besides the negative environmental effect of so many workers leaving the SCV daily, Brotzman sees a very positive economic effect to keeping them right here.

“Communities that are jobs-rich tend to have higher land values and higher housing values to preserve the wealth for the residents who are here,” he said.

“Countries are always looking to balance the trade. You want more capital flowing in than flowing out.

“On a much, much smaller scale, we want more wealth to flow into the Santa Clarita Valley than flows out of the Santa Clarita Valley.”

The One Valley, One Vision guide to SCV growth being drawn up by city and county planners calls for a two-pronged approach to creating all those jobs.

First, the city is focused on increasing the key current industries of filming, aerospace, biomedical and technology, said Jason Crawford, economic development manager for Santa Clarita.

“We know that we have a core base of those businesses,” Crawford said, adding that current residents already have the skills to work in those fields.

Those industries create more high-paying jobs, which would allow more people to work and afford to live locally, Crawford said.

The second goal is to increase the number of business parks in the Santa Clarita Valley.

The valley is already home to a handful of such parks, where aerospace, biomedical and technology companies are based.

The Valencia Commerce Center and Valencia Industrial Center are the biggest business parks, each encompassing more than 1,000 acres, according to information from the city’s Economic Development Office.

Most of the SCV’s business parks are located in Valencia and are directly attributable to The Newhall Land and Farming Co.’s master plan for Valencia.

But city planners hope to add more parks in other areas of the SCV. Not only would that increase jobs throughout the valley, but it would also reduce traffic, Crawford said.

One such business park is the Gate-King Industrial Park, which Crawford said is planned for Sierra Highway and Newhall Avenue. He projects development on the park will begin next year.

“That’s going to be a major business park,” he said.

City Planning Commissioner Bill Kennedy says two jobs for every house in the valley would create a “healthy economy with more money flowing.”

Kennedy, who serves on the boards of the SCV Chamber of Commerce and Valley Industrial Association, believes drawing a variety of industries to the Santa Clarita Valley would create job diversity in the valley’s business community.

That way, if one sector faces trouble, another can counter balance it, Kennedy said.

As valley business parks continue to take shape, Kennedy believes the SCV’s reputation will help draw businesses and people to the area.Enhancing that reputation will be open space, ample housing and a well-educated employee base.

The city of Santa Clarita is consistently ranked highly for business-friendly practices and quality of life.
Recently, the Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation ranked Santa Clarita one of the top five business-friendly cities in Southern California.

“That kind of reputation also helps,” Kennedy said.

Katherine Geyer contributed to this report.

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