As we continue to read about possible, probable, actual Covid-19 business shutdowns, it is clear that there is a short-term crisis in our local economy. Duh. The “fix” to the short-term crisis seems clear to me-maintain 6’ distancing and mask up when you can’t. Again-Duh.
When the short-term crisis is over, what then? The Sonoma Business and Ag Consortium has been working on an outline of issues that we (the Santa Rosa Metro Chamber, The Sonoma County Alliance, The Farm Bureau, The North Bay Association of Realtors, the Northern California Association of General Contractors, the North Coast Builders Association, the North Bay Leadership Council, and the Northern California Engineering Contractors Association) feel need to be considered to recognize mid term (end of this year to three years from now) and long term (beyond three years from now) economic recovery of this region.
The 10 Point Plan has been collaboratively generated and presented to our Sonoma County Board of Supervisors as well as to the Economic Development Board of Sonoma County in the last few weeks. The response has been, well UNDERWHELMING.
So, you can see what the 10-Point Plan is, I offer it here as a link for your reading pleasure:
The date we sent the 10-Point Plan in to the Supes was 6-24-2020. Two days ago, July 7, 2020, the first Zoom meeting of the Sonoma County Economic Development Board (EDB) “Economic Recovery Steering Committee ” was convened. I am on that Committee as well as several others from our Sonoma Business and Ag Consortium group. The stated “purpose” of the Steering Committee is to “discuss the process for developing the Sonoma County Economic Recovery Plan that identifies specific actions that will lead to a successful and safe countywide business and community recovery in response to the global pandemic”.
The EDB states they plan to present the Recovery Plan to the Board of Supes in October 2020.
Here is my problem with the EDB approach to the Sonoma County Economic Recovery Plan:
- By including the “community” recovery in the stated mission, the scope of the business recovery effectiveness could be severely compromised. The “community” has its own sets of issues that include homelessness, and a myriad of other issues that are only somewhat related to businesses trying to stay in business and trying to get some County guidance and support in following a road map to economic recovery to many months of shutdown due to Covid-19.
- The timeline to come up with a “Plan” is way too long. Now, I understand that our Consortium group coming up with an “Outline” of a 10 Point Plan is far different from the bureaucratic process of what the EDB has to do, but taking until October is going to be far too long to be effective in my humble opinion. The “bones” of the Plan already exist. I believe the County does not see the problem of businesses needing a “recovery roadmap” as critical as our group does. We believe that waiting until October to enact some of our outline is really missing the point of urgency that the County needs to feel. I know businesses feel the urgency, and I know I read in the newspaper that the Supes “say” they feel the urgency, but October 2020? Come on man!
- I am also concerned with the County going down a wrong path because they simply do not want to, are not able to, or do not feel it will do any good to, consult with business groups like the ones we are a part of in the Sonoma Business and Ag Consortium before they embark on misguided, perhaps well intentioned, plans to deal with Covid -19 (the dumb App that was required, then postponed, then shelved comes to mind!!).
- Bottom line-the Supes do not seem to be paying much attention to business groups these days. Chair Gorin seems to be putting things on their “Consent Calendar” that usually were handled with a staff report and public comment. And we “watchdog” groups had time to read the staff reports and prepare our responses to them. Lately, it seems “bombshell after bombshell” keeps coming out of the Supes meetings and staff reports are minimal or nonexistent. As an example, the North Bay Labor Council presented their version of the “sick leave” Covid-19 proposal to the Supes in lieu of a staff report. It was as if the North Bay Labor Council was part of their staff. That is not right. Whether their proposal was to be adopted or not, it should be presented to staff and staff should prepare their recommendation to the Board of Supes to present at their meeting.
- Clearly, if we focus on buying local, we need to make it easier to do so. So let’s stop putting more and more burden on our local producers, and let’s remove (I would be happy with just not adding more!!) some impediments to local businesses. That should be a main focus of the Economic Recovery Plan.
In the meantime, the ECA continues to have a seat at the table to try to work from within on most of the issues pertinent to us. Our Exec Committee wants me to work towards making certain infrastructure work is considered a viable part of the economic recovery of Sonoma County and the contiguous Counties. As you all know, those dollars, when earned by local workers and local firms, go right back into the local economy.
Duh-Buy Local. Now more than ever. Go to our www.nceca.org website, review our list of ECA Member firms, and shop there!! That is economic recovery!!
Message of the day: Work together, don’t steal work from each other, and support our local ECA firms.
That’s All Folks!