In the works for more than a year, REACH 2030 aims to foster 15,000 good-paying jobs by 2030 in high-wage industries, break down barriers to job growth, align education and workforce opportunities, transform Diablo Canyon and create a thriving commercial space hub at Vandenberg Air Force Base.
That’s the bold goal announced at Thursday’s launch of REACH 2030, which also laid out the specific priorities and initiatives for getting there.
“The last year has been a sprint to develop the vision, plan and partnerships to make a lasting impact on our region,” REACH CEO Melissa James said. “Now the marathon of building a better future for all of us begins.”
A half-dozen REACH founders and board members set forth the coalition’s goals — forged with input from 200 regional leaders and more than 1,000 Central Coast residents — as part of the virtual event, while a leader in the state’s Regions Rise Together initiative addressed how the plan ties in to broader efforts to strengthen the Central Coast economy and move the needle on statewide issues like housing, water and broadband.
Why action to forge a more resilient economy is needed more than ever:
“We still don’t know the second- and third-degree impacts of Covid on the economic wellbeing of our businesses, our employees, or their families, but we know that people were struggling before and it’s only gotten worse,” James said. “If we want the people of the Central Coast today and our kids tomorrow to have the opportunity to build a life, a home, a family and a career on the Central Coast, we must shift course.”
The two truths embedded in REACH 2030:
“First, our region is competing in a global economy,” MindBody Co-founder/CEO Rick Stollmeyer, a REACH founder, said. “Nothing that happens on the Central Coast happens in isolation from the rest of the world. Second, that we have what it takes to compete successfully and flourish in the decade ahead.”
On accelerating job growth in target industries:
“We must diversify our economy to ensure that we are able to withstand future shocks as they arrive,” NKT Commercial Owner Nick Tompkins, a REACH founder, said, noting the major hit tourism and hospitality, one of the region’s largest employment sectors, has taken during the coronavirus pandemic. “That puts a premium on investing our resources in building resilience into our economy and specifically in high-growth, high-productivity industries … where we already have a strong foothold.”
On removing barriers to job growth:
Housing, transportation, water and connectivity “are essential to building a life – and livelihood – on the Central Coast,” Lacey Livestock owner Dee Lacey said. “They support the workforce needed for business growth and must be solved in a regional context. … No one community can tackle these challenges alone, as we’ve been attempting to do.”
On preparing our residents for the jobs of today and tomorrow:
“Education today is not something that’s over once you get that degree,” Marian Regional Medical Center CEO and REACH board member Sue Andersen said. “It’s a lifelong journey with a host of different on- and off-ramps, career changes, emerging technologies, shifting business demands. Our systems must adapt to meet the demand for workforce talent/education of learners at every stage of life, and align this training and education with the needs of the businesses and industries in which they work.”
On the possibilities of commercial space at Vandenberg:
“Commercial space presents an enormous opportunity with billions in private sector investment on the table. The $350 billion industry is projected to grow eight-fold, to $2.7 trillion over the next three decades,” said Mantis Composites CEO and REACH board member Ryan Dunn. “We’re not just talking defense operations in Lompoc – we’re talking an entire ecosystem of cutting-edge companies like mine, Trust Automation, Zone 5, ES Aero, Promega Biosciences, and White Fox dotting the region. It could be a real game-changer.”
Where REACH is already making an impact:
“Our partnership with GO-Biz – the Governor’s Office for Business Development and Economic Development – has led to investments in both dollars and resources into our overall economic strategy and specific initiatives like that at Vandenberg. ApartmentList CRO and REACH board member Matthew Woods said. “REACH has spurred work on SLO County’s first-ever cross-sector, regional housing and infrastructure plan and completed the first phase of a pilot project with a local school district to develop land to generate needed revenues.
“The leadership role REACH has taken with our region’s response to COVID is one of the reasons I am most proud to work with REACH.”
On state investments in regional initiatives:
“This effort is precisely the kind of effort we want to support and encourage,” Egon Terplan, Senior Advisor for Economic Development and Transportation at the Governor’s Strategic Growth Council and a leader in the state’s Region’s Rise Together initiative, said. “We look forward to continuing to be involved, to stay involved, and to seeing the great work that comes out of REACH moving forward.”
Why collaboration is at the core of our approach:
“We know when leaders from the private sector, government, education and the community come together to confront challenges, align and share ideas, and focus resources, ingenuity abounds and solutions emerge,” REACH VP Andrew Hackleman said. “In this way, we can meet our challenges and accomplish more than any one community or business could individually.”
“A year and a half ago, a group of founders realized that we must do better for this generation and the many generations to come on the Central Coast,” said Trust Automation CEO Ty Safreno, a REACH founder and Board Chair. “This approach of a private sector-led effort working with public agency collaboration turned out to be the critical missing ingredient in economic development.”