Reports that San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport has landed a coveted daily nonstop flight to Denver came seemingly out of the blue.
But, in fact, the announcement was the result of nearly a decade of effort by business and community leaders to give SLO County travelers an option that provides a same day connection to the Midwest and East Coast.
It was also the result of collaborative efforts between the countywide Economic Vitality Corp. and Visit SLO Cal, the countywide travel and tourism agency. Together they rounded up business leaders who promised to support the flight and provided a sound argument that the burgeoning Central Coast tourism industry could support additional seats into the market.
Well-earned kudos go to EVC chief Mike Manchak and Chuck Davison of Visit SLO Cal. The Business Times has supported the EVC for a number of years and we’ve been a strong advocate for better air service on the Central Coast.
The broader lesson of the role of economic vitality efforts in advancing a business agenda are being learned elsewhere in the Tri-Counties. Our newspaper recently participated in a series of Economic Vitality Summits convened by the Ventura County executive office.
The meetings spotlighted ways that Ventura County’s community, business and political leaders can work together to promote the county and create head-of-household jobs.
Ventura County is a bigger and more diverse county than SLO County. Its tourism industry is less well developed, it is more dependent on manufacturing and its health care system is much more decentralized.
But there is an opening for Ventura County leadership to seize several opportunities to build a stronger and better coordinated effort. Whether it is seeking air service or perhaps leveraging existing assets like the Port of Hueneme or Naval Base Ventura County, it’s a worthwhile effort that the Business Times has eagerly joined.
We’re excited about the prospects of developing an economic vitality strategy for Ventura County and we’d point to the recent success of SLO County in landing a new Denver flight as a reason for optimism.
UNITED WAY IN GOOD HANDS
As we’re getting ready to celebrate the March 17 founding of the Business Times, we’re pleased to recognize one leader whose mission and the Business Times’ mission have been closely aligned for 17 years.
Shortly after we started publishing, we were invited to join the annual campaign of United Way of Santa Barbara County. Over the years we’ve watched the United Way role change, we’ve watched a greater focus on emerging leadership and we’ve been happy to work on a series of campaigns, Day of Giving programs and efforts to help our United Way organizations advance their brands throughout our region. We’ve given a lot but we’ve also gotten a lot in return.
The architect of the relationship between the Business Times and United Way is Paul Didier, who has been at the helm of the Santa Barbara operation for the past 42 years.
We stopped in on Paul’s retirement reception Feb. 23 and enjoyed toasting his success.
United Way of Santa Barbara County is in terrific hands with Steve Ortiz at the helm and he complements relative newcomer Eric Harrison, who took over the Ventura County United Way office in recent years.
We appreciate all the good work these organizations do in our communities.