Between cities, chambers of commerce and other organizations, the region has many professionals working on economic development, but not in any sustained, coordinated way.
“This is one of the first lessons we learned from other communities successfully practicing regionalism,” said Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce CEO and REACH board member Glenn Morris. “This network will help us operate more like a metro area with a centralized set of resources rather than disparate communities operating in silos.”
The network — represented by a designated spot on the REACH board and supported by a new staff position — doesn’t replace individual community and organizational retention and place-making efforts but pulls focus and resources together to amplify opportunities for business attraction and expansion, increase the region’s competitiveness and tell its story beyond our borders.
The network is modelled on one credited with boosting the economic fortunes of the Denver, Colo., metro area, complete with a set of collaborative guiding principles that all participants have agreed to. The group reconvened Thursday for the first time since an initial meeting back in February, before the coronavirus pandemic upended business as usual, and the work of economic recovery is tops on the agenda.
“It’s exciting that economic development is being not only prioritized, but integrated in a way we haven’t seen here before,” REACH President & CEO Melissa James said. “Banded together, we have the ingredients for a more resilient and prosperous economy, and we look forward to reaping the same benefits that the Denver Metro area realized with this approach.”
How it all comes together
The REACH Council, Board, Founders Circle, Practitioner Network … how do they all function together? There are a lot of branches to this work, so here’s a chart to help explain how we’re bringing regionalism to life.
Let’s start with the REACH organization itself. There’s the small but growing team of staff guided by the vision and strategy set by the 17-member Board of Directors, representing a diverse range of public- and private-sector leaders across the region’s industries and geography.
The Founders Circle, representing some of the Central Coast’s top-level executives, provides strategic leadership on advancing that vision and tackling the region’s biggest challenges.
Putting the strategy into practice is a broad coalition of partners and supporters.
- The Practitioner Network, introduced above, is the region’s economic development professionals at cities, chambers and other organizations doing the daily work of driving job growth and retention, bringing regionalism to life.
- The REACH Council — three dozen representatives from the spectrum of industry in the region who kicked off their work last month — recommends actions to advance the REACH 2030 plan for job growth.
- Action teams are ad-hoc groups formed to take on specific projects. There’s an action team working on the master plan for developing a space industry focused around Vandenberg Air Force Base, for example. Another is forming to tackle housing and infrastructure.
“This dynamic structure really expands the region’s capacity beyond what any one city or organization can do to address complex, shared challenges and opportunities,” said REACH VP Andrew Hackleman. “We’re proud to work with so many dedicated partners in leveraging our collective strengths toward greater regional prosperity.”