On the Blog: Supervisor's Corner with Bob Williams, Spring 2018
19 April 2018
Since I first began writing these columns, I have regularly tried to focus on a theme for each issue. Recent past columns have dealt with “never a dull moment” and “challenges and discoveries”. This time, I think that I would like to look with optimism towards the opportunities that I see for economic development in Tehama County.
When Supervisor Bundy and I first started the process of looking into how Tehama County could be more competitive in the area of economic development, we couldn’t understand why businesses weren’t flocking to Tehama County. After all, we thought that we had everything that anyone would want. Clean air, clean and ample water, reasonably priced land, Interstate 5, a rail system, a dedicated workforce and a centralized location halfway between Mexico and Canada. What more could you want?
What we discovered through our conversations with successful economic development professionals, were some of the “little things” that oftentimes get overlooked in the giant scheme of things. Things like proper zoning, water and sewer infrastructure, broadband access, a team to help with the advertisement of our product (Tehama County) and a long-term plan of how to get where we wanted to be in the future. We soon realized that we were a long way from being where we needed to be in order to attract businesses and higher paying jobs to Tehama County.
Thankfully, the Tehama County Board of Supervisors listened to and agreed with our analysis. Although we had been assured by others that this was going to be a long-term project, perhaps taking 5 to 10 years before we would see any positive results, the Board took the first step towards economic improvement by bringing on Caylyn Wright, and later, Amanda Jenkins, to make up our economic development team. These ladies have worked tirelessly with Federal, State, local and business partners to develop a long-range plan for economic development in Tehama County that should give us all reason to be optimistic. Through their efforts, working with the Tehama County Jobs Development Committee, we are beginning to see some pieces of the puzzle come together.
A prime example would be our work in consultation with the Rural County Representatives of California Economic Development staff to review all of the commercial properties in Tehama County. Through this review, it was determined that the South Avenue corridor, south of the City of Corning, had the highest potential for economic growth due to its proximity to Interstate 5, the railroad line and potential access to City water and sewer. Fortunately, a plan was already in place to bring City water to the area and in working with Corning city officials we were able to place the pipeline along the South Avenue corridor, as well as provide a means for future expansion to areas to the east. Our team also worked with the Tehama County Planning Department and City of Corning staff to develop a building design criteria and specific “M-1” zoning that will not only allow for the development of manufacturing and industry, but will create an attractive business area with less impact on City services in the future. It is our hope that working with USDA Rural Development, or perhaps as part of the yet unwritten Federal Infrastructure legislation, we will find some financial assistance to complete the necessary infrastructure (water, sewer, and broadband) that will open the door for business attraction.
We have also been recently notified that this area is part of a larger potential “Opportunity Zone” under the new Federal Tax Plan. If approved, this designation would provide capital gains tax relief that could benefit new business development in the area. Stay tuned on this one, as the entire State of California will (I am told) only receive 50 such designations. We will stay in close contact with our Federal representatives to try to make sure that we make the list.
On the local front, I continue to enjoy working with Supervisor Steve Chamblin on our Tehama County Jobs Development Committee. As I stated in my last column, Steve has replaced Supervisor Burt Bundy on the committee and brings with him new ideas and vision. Bringing him up to speed on where we have been and where we would like to go has been a challenge under the current structure of our committee system, but Steve’s a quick study and has already provided some valuable insights, as well as a northern County perspective to our discussions as we work towards creating a better economic climate for all of Tehama County and its residents.
As we move forward, our team continues to work with our Federal, State, local and business partners to achieve the goal of providing higher wage jobs and opportunities for the people of Tehama County. We still have a ways to go, but I feel that we have the right people in place and with input from the community, are making the right decisions. I continue to be optimistic as to the opportunities that may present themselves in the future.
- Tehama County Supervisor Bob Williams, District 4