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Op/ed: Balancing conservation and innovation are key to growing region’s economy

By   /   Friday, September 7th, 2012  /   Comments Off on Op/ed: Balancing conservation and innovation are key to growing region’s economy

Thoughts on growing the tri-county economy from State Senate candidate Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara.

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• EDITOR’S NOTE: The Business Times invited State Senate candidates Hannath-Beth Jackson and Mike Stoker to share their opinions on the economy and jobs. We’ve extended the opportunity to do so to other candidates in hotly contested political races in the region this election season and will continue to publish these op-eds in coming weeks. Read a previous exchange between Congressional candidates Lois Capps [here] and Abel Maldonado [here].

By Hannah-Beth Jackson on Sept. 7, 2012

Santa Barbara and Ventura counties are very special places. I’ve lived here for more than 30 years, raised my family here, and proudly served you here as a prosecutor and as a member of the State Assembly. We have miles of pristine coastline, world-class universities, award-winning vineyards and agriculture, cutting-edge technology and thriving downtown districts that draw tourists and small businesses alike. That’s why during these tough economic times, it’s critical we do everything we can to get our local economy moving again and help get California back on track.

In order to succeed, we need to invest in education and infrastructure, cut red tape, incentivize startups and small businesses to grow and balance conservation with innovation.

During my time in the State Assembly, I helped pass numerous measures that encourage economic development statewide, including loan guarantees to small business, tourism expansion, promotion of international trade, information technology investments, grants for infrastructure and expansion of enterprise zones. In the State Senate I will make sure our priorities are creating jobs, streamlining government and developing infrastructure that will make California successful for years to come.

As a long-time supporter and member of the board of directors of a local nonprofit dedicated to assisting aspiring entrepreneurs to create successful businesses, I know how important it is that we provide the tools and support for these endeavors.

Our future economy depends on creating new, good-paying jobs in California. We need to make the Central Coast even more appealing to businesses by continuing our investment in education to provide a well-trained work force, as well as continue to lead the way in innovation with our top-notch research institutions. We need to encourage and work with our start-ups and innovative companies to ensure that they have the resources and workers necessary to build their businesses into vibrant, high-paying and successful employers.

The Campaign for College Opportunity recently conducted a study that concluded that for every $1 California invests in public higher education, it would receive a return on investment of $4.50. Education is the best investment we can make. In the Tri-Counties, we are lucky enough to have UC Santa Barbara, a world-class research institute, two top-notch California State University schools and numerous community colleges to provide the training for the work force of tomorrow.

In addition, we need to end loopholes that reward companies for sending jobs overseas and reward those that invest in California’s future by creating and developing their ideas and manufacturing their products here.

As a former small-business owner in our community, I know the hardships facing many small-business owners throughout the state. We need to create incentives for small businesses to operate and invest in local job creation. I want to see us develop programs that provide a support network for small business owners to deliver everything from collaboration on successful business plans to loans and startup capital. Nothing is off the table when it comes to ensuring we have thriving local economies throughout California. We must recognize the importance of capital, generate predictability, reasonable guidelines, and regulations that support business while protecting our quality of life and community values.

I support organizations such as the Blue Green Alliance, which is dedicated to combining environmentalism with jobs, and preparing the workforce for the rapidly growing green economy. The Tri-Counties is ripe for this kind of development. We have our public institutions developing the innovations of tomorrow, community colleges training the workforce ready to handle the new technologies, and we have a region committed to the environment. In addition, one of the largest employers in the region, Naval Base Ventura County, is dedicated to green technology and developing it through public-private partnerships. The base employs more than 17,320 personnel and indirectly provides another 2,700 jobs throughout the region. The Navy has a goal of making 50 percent of all its fuel come from alternative energy sources by 2015. In order to do this, Naval Base Ventura County is partnering up with the private sector here in the region to develop biodiesel and other alternative fuels.

We need to encourage our other businesses — large and small — to do the same.

We are lucky to live in such a vibrant and beautiful place. We have all the tools necessary to lead the way into the economy of the 21st century, so let’s do it together and make California once again the “State that invents the future.”

• Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, is a candidate for the 19th State Senate District and is a former State Assemblymember.

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