Two counties,
a shared future

Developing a comprehensive economic development strategy (CEDS) for San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Counties

Two years and one global pandemic in, we’re embarking on a region-wide effort to expand our economic vision to build a sustainable, inclusive economy in which future generations have the opportunity to live, work and thrive.

map of central coast communities

Building the strategy

A quick look at the 18-month project

The starting point: REACH 2030

REACH 2030 is a 10-year action plan to equitably grow high-wage jobs across the region, developed with input from hundreds of leaders and more than a thousand residents from across the Central Coast. Launched in 2020, it lays out six interrelated initiatives that form the core of REACH’s work.

Get the overview here.

The update: A regional CEDS

REACH 2030 laid out a general path for SLO and northern SB Counties, with key initiatives that have moved forward in the last two years. The CEDS — a Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy involving extensive industry and community engagement — will both broaden the plan across the entire two-county region and expand on specifics.

The result of this community-wide initiative will be a deeply detailed vision and strategy for inclusive economic prosperity in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Counties.

Why it's important

Our two-county region has never adopted a formal vision/strategy for our economy. Doing so is a critical step in articulating and realizing the future we want for the Central Coast.

In addition to creating this shared vision/strategy for the first time, this process will produce documentation required by the federal government to access grants and funding opportunities across a wide range of federal agencies.

That documentation — the so-called CEDS — also unlocks a range of other public and private funding opportunities for every city, town and civic group in our region.

The REACH 2030 plan is designated to serve as the region’s temporary CEDS until the process is complete.

Read the US. Economic Development Administration’s CEDS overview

Read the EDA letter designating the REACH 2030 plan as the region’s temporary CEDS

Core components

In addition to broad public engagement, this strategic planning process will examine and provide recommendations on the region’s:

  • general economic and competitive landscape
  • workforce, including talent landscape, workforce development needs/gaps, and potential programs
  • infrastructure inventory
  • four industries targeted for high-wage job growth potential:
    + agtech
    + clean tech/renewable energy
    + aerospace, defense + precision manufacturing
    + technology

The findings will inform efforts to promote investment in targeted areas to develop the local workforce, attract and retain talent, recruit new businesses, expand existing industry and business sectors, and enhance our quality of place.

Who's involved

The goal is to ensure all voices are represented through robust stakeholder engagement and outreach spanning both counties, including historically underserved communities and populations.

To lead the process, REACH has engaged TIP Strategies, an economic development consulting firm with over 20 years of experience in 40 states and four countries. EMSI/Burning Glass, a long-established labor market analytics firm, is serving as the data partner.

TIP will be supported by REACH staff and designated committees of key stakeholders and community leaders.

Four industry consortia groups will be created to advise and produce action plans for the creation of high-wage jobs across our four target industries:

  • agtech
  • clean tech/renewable energy
  • aerospace, defense + precision manufacturing
  • technology

Additional geographic and sector-based participation will also take place. The committees and details of the engagement plan are under development.

Learn more about TIP Strategies
Learn more about EMSI/Burning Glass

Timeline

May 2022 marks the kickoff, with the final strategy complete in fall 2023.

First up is the Discovery phase, encompassing the economic and planning context, infrastructure inventory, competitive position and stakeholder engagement.

The Opportunity phase, covering industry and workforce analyses and best practices, is planned to start toward the end of 2022 and run through mid 2023.

It wraps up with the Implementation phase, including a public review period and final presentation, in mid/late 2023.

Funding the work

REACH was awarded a $450,000 local-match grant under the U.S. Economic Development Administration’s Nuclear Closure Communities program.

Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo Counties each contributed $150,000 toward the local match, with another $150,000 coming from local and corporate grants from Bank of America.

Read about the grant award

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