May You Live in Interesting Times:
Economic Development in California
Born out of a gold rush, California has had a tumultuous economic history. From the 49ers and railroad barons of the 19th century to today’s titans of technology and venture capital, the State’s economy has been a model of economic innovation. Unfortunately, California has also been saddled with an antiquated taxation system that struggles to provide basic government services and increasingly relies upon local revenues to cover centralized State obligations.
Even as macroeconomic conditions improve, the State continues to deal with a fiscal nightmare, requiring them to look at city and county revenue to balance their books. In the process, the State has shuttered the primary conduit for making neighborhoods stronger and housing more affordable—redevelopment.
But in Santa Cruz, the State’s actions are not curtailing the City’s desire to create better economic conditions for the community. “The end of redevelopment is a loss, but it is also an opportunity to create a new path forward,” says Bonnie Lipscomb, the City’s Economic Development Director. “We will continue to deliver our core programs and address economic problems creatively.”
The City’s Economic Development Department is behind many initiatives that make Santa Cruz a better place to live and work. Not only is the department responsible for the new Marine Sanctuary Visitor Exploration Center by the Municipal Wharf, but it spearheads numerous programs that remove graffiti, improve lighting and streetscapes and reduce the cost of doing business for new entrepreneurs and small business owners. The department has also been instrumental in attracting new businesses to town, like Forever XXI on Pacific Avenue and the new University Inn being developed on Ocean Street.
“Our community has a vibrant and creative culture,” Lipscomb concludes. “Whatever happens in Sacramento, or whatever new industries emerge in the coming decade, the City of Santa Cruz will continue to be a leader in innovative economic development.”