With about 100 Ventura County leaders gathered at the sprawling Amgen campus in Thousand Oaks, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom made a rare appearance in the Tri-Counties on July 27 to promote a new “Gold Team” effort to recruit businesses to California.
Taking a stab at bi-partisanship, he appeared at the podium with Republican Assemblyman Jeff Gorell to promote the Gold Teams, an idea that Gorell has pitched to statewide officials as a way to counteract aggressive recruiting by other states. Economic development “is like filling potholes and making sure the trash gets collected,” Newsom said. “The potholes are not Republican or Democrat. But they need to be filled.”
As if to underscore his role as the state’s point person for economic development issues, Newsom was expected to meet later in the day on July 27 with officials of Haas Automation, an Oxnard manufacturer that’s been threatening to open a new facility outside California if it can’t quickly get the green light for expansion in Ventura County.
Gorell said that Ventura County will be the pilot for the Gold Team approach, which he described as a “fusion” between elected officials and economic development efforts. When it comes to aggressively recruiting companies from other states, he said, “In California we haven’t done that in generations.”
Newsom’s appearance was heralded by a number of leaders who agreed that Ventura County, with ample real estate, an educated work force and substantially reduced housing prices, could be attractive to outsiders. CSU Channel Islands President Richard Rush said that by getting Newsom’s endorsement, the Gold Team initiative was off to “a good start.”
He said one of the biggest challenges would be to “cut through the red tape in Sacramento” and create a mentality that promotes job growth over business regulation. Navy Capt. Lawrence Vasquez, recently named commander of Naval Base Ventura County, said he saw opportunity to leverage the scientific talent at the base to recruit technology companies. He also said the large number of Navy retirees want to stay in the area and many “want to start small businesses.”