Since the deep recession of the early 1990s triggered by post-Cold War defense cuts, Simi Valley has evolved from industrial center to bedroom community to small-business hub.
Now, Mayor Bob Huber wants to reinvent the city as what you might call Simi Valley 4.0, combining the best parts of its past but bringing more of a startup and tech culture to the region’s second-largest city. He took the wraps off his vision in an Economic Strategic Plan that was presented to City Council on Aug. 13.
The 20-point plan includes developing an online permit process to automate and speed simple projects for homeowners, contractors and small businesses. He also wants to borrow some ideas from San Diego County, which pioneered a concierge style approach to helping property owners and developers navigate the permit process with a one-stop-shopping approach.
Huber also wants to do a lot in the area of marketing, overhauling the city’s economic development website, creating a new tagline and producing an advertising campaign that is aimed at attracting both companies and working professionals to the city. But Huber doesn’t want to operate in a vacuum. He’s already worked closely with the Chamber of Commerce on several projects. Now he’s asking for input from companies and residents, and he proposes working with California Lutheran University on a survey of area businesses to spot the best opportunities. He also wants CLU and Moorpark College to be involved in training a new generation of Simi Valley workers and entrepreneurs.
What also caught our attention was a sliding fee scale that reduces the cost of business licenses for startups and early stage companies. He also wants to create a technology center to serve as a magnet for high-tech businesses looking to relocate to the city. Just last week we wrote about Ventura County launching a draft economic vitality effort. We’ve seen the city of Ventura embrace its startup culture and
Santa Paula take a bold step to the future with its East Area One annexation. And we’ve already written about several efforts under way in San Luis Obispo county, notably the Economic Vitality Corp.’s successful effort to create an economic element to the county’s overall plans for the future and the city of San Luis Obispo’s first-ever five-year economic development strategy.
Now Simi Valley seems to have leapfrogged past many communities with a clearly written focused economic roadmap for the future.