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City prepares economic development action plan

Justin Maddox, 10, and his mother, Margie Longo, ride their bikes from South Davis over the Dave Pelz Bike Overpass on April 6, 2010. The two were taking a leisurely ride around town during his spring break. Fred Gladdis/Enterprise photo

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April 28, 2011 | Leave Comment

Davis is moving toward a proactive approach for a strong, healthy local economy and needs help from the community to execute a new action plan.

The Business and Economic Development Commission has released a final draft of the city’s “Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy” that envisions an ideal Davis in the year 2025. The commission took on the task in October at the direction of the Davis City Council.

The draft strategy identifies several goals, interdependent factors and action steps. It was developed based on the idea that Davis must be proactive, rather than reactive, to thrive in a future where the pool of available state and federal funding for local governments likely will be smaller than ever before.

Now, it is up to city and community groups to review and refine the plan and take on the responsibility of specific tasks, said Bob Agee, who chairs the commission.

This month, the city’s Finance and Budget Commission and the Planning Commission took their first looks at the proposed plan. Agee said BEDC expects to hear back from both bodies before its next scheduled meeting on May 23.

BEDC hopes the commissions will identify the action steps relevant to their areas of expertise and give their input on how to put the plan into effect, Agee said.

BEDC is also asking for feedback from the Davis Chamber of Commerce and the Davis Downtown Business Association, as well as any other interested community members or groups, he said.

Anyone who is interested can contact Sarah Worley, the economic development coordinator at the city’s Department of Community Development and Sustainability.

Next, the amended strategy will go before the Davis City Council for adoption, but it will be a “living document” that can be modified and improved upon along the way, Agee said. The important thing is the community is on the same page and working toward common goals, he said.

“People are beginning to see that we will ultimately come out of the recession that we have been enduring, and it’s important for the community to have a plan for how to move forward,” Agee said.

Those who are content with things how they are have to realize that Davis will need to generate more revenues just to keep up the status quo, he said.

That is where the strategy comes into play. It factors in six interdependent concepts — business, downtown, regional collaboration, quality of life, Davis as a destination and people — that work together to create the community’s overall business and economic climate.

For example, to have a stronger downtown, there needs to be a greater number of shoppers, which relies upon expanding tourism or the workforce in Davis, according to the vision statement in the draft strategy.

Thirty-four action steps are listed in the strategy. BEDC volunteered to head a few of them, but most are awaiting the leadership that will make them a reality.

“They’re really like the tips of 34 icebergs,” Agee said, each one requiring multiple sub-steps.

Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Christi Skibbins agrees the collective work of the community is key to implementing an effective plan.

“It’s a big, big project and there are a lot of pieces to the puzzle,” Skibbins said. “Nobody can do this kind of work by themselves.”

Skibbins said the Chamber board of directors likes the direction the city is going with the draft strategy and is putting together a response to get it closer to a comprehensive plan.

“It’s work that needs to be done and this is a really great place to start … it’s a great outline,” Skibbins said. “I don’t know about it being comprehensive, but it’s definitely a great start and they’ve done some great work in this.”

By having a strategy in place, Agee said, “we’ll have a better chance at controlling our destiny.”

“Our chance of thriving is greatly improved … when we have a plan — one that everyone agrees upon and is willing to work on,” Agee said.

— Reach Crystal Lee at clee@davisenterprise.net or (530) 747-8057.

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