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Panel: Local recovery to be strong

Economy: Officials from COC, Santa Clarita and economic-development groups speak at luncheon

Posted: October 19, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: October 19, 2011 1:55 a.m.

From left: Carrie Rogers of the Los Angeles Economic Development Corp.; Jason Crawford, of the city of Santa Clarita; Jonas Peterson, of the Santa Clarita Valley Economic Development Corp.; and Dianne Van Hook, of College of the Canyons spoke at the Valley Industry Association’s monthly luncheon on Tuesday.


A panel of county and Santa Clarita Valley economic organizations took center stage at the Valley Industry Association’s monthly lunch Tuesday to outline ongoing economic efforts in the region.

Describing both efforts and successes in the region, panelists agreed Santa Clarita is poised for a stronger recovery when the economy recovers, based on the area’s business-friendly environment.

“Opportunities don’t knock,” said Dianne Van Hook, chancellor of College of the Canyons. “You create them.”

The recession will end, and when it does, we’ll be stronger for having taken this time to continue planning and building, she said.

Serving on the panel was Carrie Rogers, vice president business and development for the Los Angeles Economic Development Corp.; Jason Crawford, marketing and economic development manager, city of Santa Clarita; Jonas Peterson, president and CEO of the Santa Clarita Valley Economic Development Corp; and Van Hook.

Giving an example of pro-business efforts in the region, Rogers described how the LAEDC stepped in last year to help Bayless Engineering and Manufacturing remain in Valencia.

A number of states were courting the company to lure it to relocate out of state. LAEDC contacted the SCVEDC, city Economic Development Division, COC and Price Waterhouse to work together and address the issues confronting Bayless.

“As a result of the efforts and working collectively as a team, Bayless is staying. It just bought another building, and is hiring more people,” Rogers said.

Citing the relatively low unemployment rate in Santa Clarita, Crawford said the city wants people to understand that the region is more than just the bedroom community it once was. The city works on creating jobs as much as it focuses on housing.

“We have 70,021 jobs in Santa Clarita,” Crawford said. “And we’re working with the SCVEDC to attract more jobs.”
“Our goal is to have two jobs per every household,” he said.

In alignment with the city, one of the core functions of the SCVEDC is business attraction and retention, Peterson said. The population has grown 60 percent since 1990.

The Santa Clarita Valley is doing better than almost any other Southern California community, and the SCVEDC is building on partnerships with public and private resources to keep the momentum going, he said.

Since June 1, the SCVEDC has pitched 50 companies, and is working on 30 active projects to attract or retrain businesses locally.

“Right now, we’re working with nine companies representing over 600 jobs,” Peterson said.

The biggest selling point of the area, however, is the quality of life in the SCV, he said.

“This is where we win deals,” Peterson said.

Economic development is a critical part of a community college mission, Van Hook said.

COC serves a variety of businesses and industries, and helps boost California’s economic growth by creating job-training opportunities and helping companies gain a competitive edge. The school helps to create a positive business climate, she said.

Citing the relocation of Princess Cruises to Santa Clarita, Van Hook recalled when the former city manager called her to ask if COC could help train people if the company relocated to the area.

Van Hook told Pulskamp that COC could definitely help. She said he asked her if she didn’t first want to know what kind of training would be needed.

“No,” she said. “If someone can be trained in it, then we can do it.”

Two bond measures passed over the years helped build the facilities on campus that help train employees, Van Hook said. Offering a number of business and training-assistance programs, Van Hook said COC has helped generate $15.5 million economic impact and trained 18,467 employees over the past 20 years.

All four business organizations work well together on local economic issues, the panelists agreed.

Peterson agreed, having previously worked in Arizona and with other economic-development efforts.

“We work remarkably well,” he said. “I’m blown away by how well we work together.”

“It’s one of the strengths of this community,” he said.


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