April 3, 2024
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VCEDA chief steps down


Bill Buratto has stepped down as the head of the Ventura County Economic Development Association, one of the most prominent business advocacy groups in the region.

VCEDA started life as government-funded advisory board on land-use issues but has been privately funded by members and businesses since 1974. It has organized a widely attended Business Outlook Conference for more than four decades.

The group did not give a specific reason for Buratto’s departure. Instead, it said that the VCEDA intends to “do more with less” by tapping board members for day-to-day operations and using contractors for projects as needed.

“The past few years have been challenging for many nonprofit organizations, including VCEDA,” the group said in a statement. “In looking at our strategic plan, it became apparent that we had to do more with less.”

Buratto joined the group as president and CEO in late 2001. His resignation takes effect June 27 and is the latest in a series of departures among nonprofits in Ventura County.

VCEDA has helped lead successful efforts to fend off military base closures in 1995 and 2005 and was part of the coalition that pushed for the creation of CSU Channel Islands. It also led the effort for Ventura County to become one of the first sites in the country approved by the Federal Aviation Administration for drone testing. That effort failed, with none of the sites going to California even though both Ventura County and a site in the Mojave Desert submitted bids.

VCEDA stopped accepting public funds because it began advocating on behalf several industries. Some of its positions have proved controversial.

In 2012, the group lost a $10,000 title sponsorship from the Ventura County Community College District. The rescission happened when VCEDA’s board voted to oppose Proposition 30 and Proposition 38, two tax measures designed to raise money for public education. Buratto brought in experts on either side of the issue to make presentations and allow the board to reconsider, but the board affirmed its position with a second vote.

VCEDA singled out Buratto’s work on the Business Outlook Conferences for praise.

“An event of this magnitude takes many months of preparation,” the group said in a release. “Each year, Bill’s goal was to create a meaningful conference bringing together subject t matter experts with the topics being especially significant to Ventura county. His dedication to this endeavor was exemplary.”

[FULL DISCLOSURE: Business Times Editor Henry Dubroff serves on VCEDA’s Board of Directors. He was not involved in the writing or editing of this story.]