December 2, 2022
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Central Coast economic development initiative scores $5M state grant

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The Uplift Coalition, an economic development coalition of six counties along the Central Coast, has received a $5 million grant through California’s Community Economic Resilience Fund.

The grant, announced Oct. 20, will fund a two-year planning process that will allow the counties of Santa Cruz, San Benito, Monterey, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura to develop an inclusive economic development plan that focused equity, sustainability, job quality, economic competitiveness and resilience.

Once complete, the Uplift Coalition will then be eligible to apply for additional grants to implement the plan.

The Community Economic Resilience Fund, or CERF, is a $600 million program designed to catalyze planning and action to realize an equitable and sustainable economy across California’s diverse regions and to foster long-term economic resilience.

The Uplift Coalition was founded a year ago, and is comprised of 13 regional organizations spanning those six Central Coast counties. The coalition is led by REACH, the San Luis Obispo-based Regional Economic Action Coalition; the Monterey Bay Economic Partnership; and the Ventura County-based Economic Development Collaborative, or EDC.

“This expansive coastal region extending from Santa Cruz to Ventura has a lot in common. We share persistent and emerging economic challenges including extreme socio-economic disparities, high costs of living, and often highly uneven impacts of climate change,” REACH CEO Melissa James said in a news release. “We are excited for this promising new opportunity to expand our network and bring resources to our region to spur economic opportunity for those who need it most.”

James told the Business Times last year the goal of the coalition is to see “economic growth within the counties and the space and aeronautics industry.”

The EDC will serve as the fiscal agent for the grant, meaning it will manage the grant funds, while REACH will serve as the regional convener, leading stakeholder engagement and plan development. REACH, EDC and MBEP will each serve as a co-convener in their respective subregions.

“We know there was a widely disproportionate impact on minority workers from the COVID-19 pandemic,” EDC President & CEO Bruce Stenslie said in a news release. “Now we have an opportunity to address that and foster economic development investments for the region in a deliberate, thoughtful and disruptive way.”