The city of Ventura has set out a road map for economic vitality that courageously puts the private sector front and center.
The city’s “Economic Development Strategy 2013-2018” was adopted last month. It puts making the city more responsive to businesses and organizations at the top of a list of major new initiatives.
The blueprint for the next five years also seeks to play to the city’s strengths in travel and tourism, health care and biomedical services, and entrepreneurship.
Ventura’s economic strategy also gives a nod to economic activity happening outside the city limits, notably agribusiness and manufacturing, which are traditional strengths of Ventura County as a whole.
And it points out some weaknesses, notably the need to better connect Ventura with CSU Channel Islands, UC Santa Barbara and California Lutheran University to take advantage of academic programs that are aimed at producing entrepreneurs and high-quality employees with business acumen.
Guiding the strategy was Deputy Mayor Cheryl Heitmann, who chairs the city’s ad hoc economic development committee.
Her committee’s research gathered significant information about Ventura and its leadership role in the county’s travel and tourism industry. It turns out that some 25 percent of travel and tourist spending in the county is done within the city limits.
It also points out how agriculture, tourism and emerging green industries could work together to grow the Ventura brand. And the research underscores the need for Ventura — and other cities — to continue to focus on economic vitality and support startups that emerge from the raw talent in our midst.
What is refreshing about Ventura’s economic development strategy is that it does not rely on Ventura’s traditional role as the county seat — and it doesn’t, therefore, count on expanding government services to foster growth. It does give a nod to the Ventura County Medical Center and the prospects for a health care/biomedical corridor that includes Community Memorial Hospital and Kaiser Permanente as possible partners.
The bottom line is that Ventura is looking to innovation and job creation in the private sector to map out its future. A strategic plan that focuses on the private sector and forges links with area universities bodes well for the years ahead.
Farewell to an educator
Speaking of forging links with the private sector, we must say a few words about Dave Christy, the outgoing dean of Cal Poly’s Orfalea College of Business.
The BBQ-loving Christy is a character in the best sense of the word — he is not afraid to be outspoken, he loves what he does and he’s quick to embrace new ideas.
He’s leaving his post to become provost and vice president for academic affairs at Baruch College, the flagship campus of the City University of New York system.
Christy is the kind of person who’s going to move up the academic ladder quickly.
We would love to welcome him back to the Central Coast — for a visit or for his next career move.