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YOLO COUNTY NEWS
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Positioning the Davis economy for a bright future

By
May 13, 2011 |

DSIDE’s steering committee consists of local entrepreneurs and leaders from:

City of Davis Business and Economic Development Commission
City of Davis Community Development & Sustainability Department
Davis Downtown Business Association
Davis Chamber of Commerce
Davis City Council
UC Davis
Yolo County Economic Development
Yolo County Board of Supervisors
Yolo County Visitors Bureau

By William Alger and Rochelle Swanson

Since 2008, certain words and phrases have become more a part of our everyday vocabulary: bankruptcy, failing assets, struggling economy, bailout, financial fears, unemployment at new highs, furloughs, jobless, budget deficit, financial meltdown, global crisis and most recently — government shutdown.

Even here in Davis, we have been touched by furloughs, layoffs, the closing of local businesses, dwindling finances of the city/county/state, repeated budget slashing at UC Davis and a constant necessity to figure out how to do more with less.

Most of us believe there is now a new “normal.” The losses and struggles of the past three years have redefined our expectations of the financial world. Part of this new paradigm is working smarter and harder to retain, develop and invigorate our local economic vitality.

A group of community folks believe there exists significant opportunities to invigorate our local economy, and the size of that group is growing. A year ago, a small group of civic-minded people launched the kernel of the idea that would grow into the organization DSIDE (Designing a Sustainable & Innovative Davis Economy).

The mission of this group is to advocate for long term economic vitality to protect and enhance the quality of life in the Davis community.

DSIDE’s first task was to organize and execute an all-day workshop last September that brought together 150 people from our community to talk about economic development, thus beginning the concrete work toward the development of an intelligent, cohesive and collaborative plan to ensure the long-term economic health of Davis.

Since the workshop, there have been a number of events and activities supporting this initiative:

Fall 2010:

* DSIDE Workshop

* 2009 Davis Economic Health and Prosperity Report (aka Economic Indicator Report)  is released by the city’s Business and Economic Development Commission. Using an array of economic and demographic trend data, the report provides policy-makers and the community with an important new tool for measuring how well we have done in both economic terms and key quality of life indicators.

* Active City Council attention to economic development:

— The Business Park Land Strategy is released by the city’s Economic Development Department. The land strategy assesses Davis’ long-term (25-year) business growth prospects against the remaining vacant commercial land supply. It was prepared to inform the community policy-makers about the adequacy of the city’s commercial land supply to support business growth.

— The Peripheral Innovation Park Task Force is established by the City Council to explore peripheral sites for future business park development to accommodate medium-scale (about 150 employees) businesses.

Two City Council members are appointed to form a task force with two representatives selected by the Planning Commission and the Business and Economic Development Coimmission to return to the City Council with recommendations.

Winter/spring 2011:

* Announcement that Mori Seiki will locate its first U.S. manufacturing facility here in Davis. The Japanese firm will manufacture a range of machines, expecting to produce 100 machines per month with about 150 employees. Construction will begin this summer, with occupancy slated for summer 2012.

* Davis Business Walk: Fifty-four volunteer business and civic leaders, in a one-day concentrated effort, visited 184 local businesses to get their read on how business is faring in Davis. There’s an uptick in filling commercial vacancies: Trader Joe’s, Grocery Outlet, Forever 21, DeVere’s Irish Pub, UC Davis Downtown Store.

* City of Davis (with support from DSIDE) provides a collaborative proposal in response to the UC Davis request for proposals for its “innovation hub.” Davis is offering the Nishi property on West Olive Drive as an ideal site where university researchers can turn their innovations into profitable businesses.

* Green light to redevelopment projects: Including continued progress on a hotel/conference center and downtown parking structure.

* Final draft form of Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy is circulated by the Business and Economic Development Commission. At the request of the City Council, the commission synthesized existing council economic development priorities and other materials prepared by community groups over the past few years to develop a list of high-priority actions that, once approved, will be used to guide citywide economic development efforts over the next five years.

We believe we are on the right track to controlled, careful and intelligent economic growth and that there is a growing community awareness of the importance of jobs and the business sector in maintaining the community’s quality of life.

It will be important to continue this work as individuals and as a community. Local jobs and businesses provide goods and services to Davis residents and the tax revenues that support our schools, parks and public safety programs.

We believe, if successful with support from the community, we can position the city of Davis as an area for innovation and opportunity, resulting in a vocabulary of the next three years that will include words and phrases like recovery potential, improvement, tax base diversity, positive, gains, upward curve, sustainable jobs/homes balance, stronger growth and brighter economic outlook.

— William Alger, past chairman of the Davis Chamber of Commerce’s board of directors, and Rochelle Swanson, Davis mayor pro tem, are co-chairs of the DSIDE Steering Committee. For more information or to share your thoughts, contact them at william.alger@chw.edu, rswanson@cityofdavis.org, or contact steering committee staff member Christi Skibbins, Davis Chamber of Commerce executive director, at director@davischamber.com or (530) 756-5160.

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