J Guevara on the Economic Vitality Strategy
The City of Santa Cruz’s Economic Development Manager J Guevara works closely with Santa Cruz businesses in regards to economic development and redevelopment. He has been apart of a variety of economic development projects including the Motel Improvement Program, Facade Improvement Program, and the Santa Cruz Trolley. This week I sat down with Mr. Guevara to talk about Santa Cruz County’s recently released Economic Vitality Strategy (EVS). The EVS is Santa Cruz County’s most recent list of tangible goals for the business community and how the County will help with the next few decades of economic development.
What is your overall impression of the EVS?
The simple fact that the county published the EVS is a huge step in the right direction. Economic development is best achieved when working together, especially in regards to the relationship between a city and county. The county not having an office of economic development makes the cities’ offices of economic development that much more important. Overall it’s a great starting document to encourage collaboration.
What would a successful implementation of the EVS look like to you?
Strong public and private sector consensus and commitment to grow high growth tech and innovation clusters all while working with UCSC and building a sustainable 21st century economy. There are a lot of experienced entrepreneurs and people just finding out what to do and its important to help all types of businesses.
If you had to brand Santa Cruz in one sentence what would it be?
Santa Cruz is an innovative place to live, work, and play. Fundamentally, every Santa Cruzan is an innovator because we all find ways to live and work in Santa Cruz with its high cost of living. The innovation economy includes not only tech and creative industries, but also includes other sectors in Santa Cruz because most of us craft our careers and work lives in inventive ways because we love to live in this amazing place. A robust economy relies upon such inventiveness and allows people to thrive by maximizing economic opportunities, building on the culture of innovation unique to Santa Cruz.
If you had to limit the EVS to just a couple of strategies, what would they be?
I would like to see a concentration on tech and innovation. However these cannot be separated from infrastructure like broadband development, and affordable housing. It is very possible to balance maintaining industry and investing in new high growth with a sustainable economy.
It is imperative to Santa Cruz’s long term economic development to keep talent in the town. A welcoming and affordable community could reverse this brain-drain and help expand Santa Cruz’s economy. A strong business ecosystem and a culture of inclusion go far to attract and retain talent, adding to the natural beauty and healthy lifestyles that draw so many to Santa Cruz.
What’s your take on the EVS? Sound off in the comments and be sure to vote on the EVS strategies on Civinomics.