Checking in on the regional economy

It’s a real mixed bag out there, with historically low unemployment — 2.5% and 2.8% in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Counties, respectively — alongside news of layoffs at big tech companies.

The big picture is still strong, regional economists such as UCSB Economic Forecast Project Director Peter Rupert and Beacon Economics Founding Partner Chris Thornberg have said recently.

And California is poised to surpass Germany as the 4th largest economy in the world, after the U.S., China and Japan, Bloomberg reports.

“The California economy is punching above its weight on the world stage.”
— Bloomberg News Editor-in-Chief Emeritus Matthew Winkler

In SLO County, the economy is chugging along but not living up to its full potential, economists at the Central Coast Economic Forecast noted.

“San Luis Obispo has foundations for a strong, vibrant economy but current trends are unsustainable due to declining population growth.” 
— Beacon Economics Regional Analysis Manager Taner Osman

Particularly, declining growth among working-age adults — ie, the region’s workforce, Osman noted, a trend that’s been exacerbated by high housing costs.

The antidote? Build more housing, especially multifamily housing affordable to recent college graduates, entry-level workers and young families.

“You build housing, your economy will expand.”
— Beacon Economics Founding Partner Chris Thornberg

Regional partnerships are making inroads in expanding economic opportunity, Pacific Coast Business Times Founder/Editor Henry Dubroff says in an editorial headlined “Regionalization makes our economies bigger and better.”

With a growing recognition that “the no-growth policies of the past have led to the extreme inequality that is baked into the Central Coast economy,” he writes that the region is finally embracing the work of economic development to raise skill levels, foster startups and build more housing.

He notes two initiatives in particular:

“By regionalizing and recasting economic development efforts, the Central Coast suddenly has a couple of initiatives that could be game changers.” 
— Pacific Coast Business Times Founder/Editor Henry Dubroff

More on broadband: Paso Robles and Atascadero got a $200,000 grant to fund the North County Broadband Strategic Plan launched earlier this year. And additional subsea fiber optic cables from southeast Asia will be landing soon in Grover Beach.

Launch bonanza. With Orion on its way toward the moon as part of NASA’s Artemis mission, Vandenberg is continuing with its busy schedule. The Nov. 10 launch of the NASA/NOAA collab Joint Polar Satellite System-2 was West Coast’s last for Atlas V, a program that’s been around since 1957. We challenge you to watch this video and not feel inspired.



After a spectacular sunset launch seen across the western United States last month, SpaceX will likely make it a baker’s dozen for Vandenberg launches before the end of the year, aiming for two more, including one delayed from Friday. One of those is the international SWOT (Surface Water and Ocean Topography) mission, which will provide the most in-depth look ever at the world’s water.

Diablo Canyon. With $1.1 billion in new federal funds, the plant is one step closer to extending its operations past 2025.

Supply chains. IE, the reason we’re scrambling to get our holiday shopping done early. Turns out Cal Poly has been studying the issue, thanks to funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and has identified ways to improve the efficiency of the intermodal transportation and logistics system, particularly for agricultural exporters.

Ideas and innovation. Santa Barbara-based Expond raised $1.25 million in seed funding for its “experiences on demand” online booking platform. Great energy and ideas took center stage at the Cal Poly Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship Elevator Pitch competition, its 13th annual.


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