Economic Development Series: The Future of Local Economic Development

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Bill DoddBy Bill Dodd 

Economic development may not be the most exciting topic for everyone, but it’s absolutely critical for Davis and our state as a whole. In its simplest form, economic development is how a community attempts to improve the quality of life for its people. Building a strong local economy doesn’t just help to create new job opportunities and promote higher wages. Economic development also broadens the tax base, allowing our state and local governments to provide key services and build a more robust safety net.

In 2012, redevelopment agencies in California were eliminated as the state coped with massive budget deficits. At the state level, the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz), serves as California’s lead entity for economic development and job creation efforts. GO-Biz has a number of grant and loan programs for businesses seeking to expand, and can help businesses connect with the right state or local agencies. We are now leading the nation in total job creation and our unemployment rate is the lowest it’s been in a decade.

While we’re on the right track, I believe the state can do more to help bolster economic development, particularly for local governments. As a result of the dissolution of redevelopment agencies in 2012, many of the tools that were previously used to encourage economic development were transferred to local governments. However, the ability to local governments to use some of those tools is limited.  As much as 70% of the funds local communities used to build affordable housing were lost with the elimination of redevelopment agencies. This has unfortunately hindered the ability of local governments to create local job opportunities and has particularly impacted their ability to build more housing for their families and seniors.

In response to this issue, I’ve introduced legislation to strengthen the economic development powers of all local governments in California. My bill, AB 806, would better equip local governments to acquire, sell, or lease a property in the effort to create more development opportunities.  By offering competitive contracts to owners and tenants, local governments can additionally boost the rehabilitation efforts of existing commercial buildings. Bottom line, my bill will simplify the economic development powers for local governments.

While there are many ways these tools can help, perhaps the most exciting is the impact it can have on affordable housing. Throughout my district, from Davis to Napa, you’ll find housing vacancy rates well below the state average, some as low as two percent. We need to encourage affordable housing development and the best way to do that is by empowering local governments to craft solutions that work for their communities.

California is the heartbeat of American ingenuity. Similar to how business is Silicon Valley have reimagined new ways to increase productivity and efficiency. The public sector must also find creative solutions to our modern day challenges. We don’t need to recreate the wheel, we just need to rethink our approach to how we use it.

Bill Dodd is the 4th District Representative in the California State Assembly


Editor’s note: following the decision by Mace Ranch Innovation Center to put its pending project on hold, the Vanguard decided to re-start a community discussion on the future of economic development in Davis.  As such, we are reaching out to a very diverse group of people and starting May 1 we are hoping to publish one op-ed a day on this subject.  We are pleased to announce that so far we have over 40 commitments and counting. Beginning today, we will publish one article per day for the month of May into June.  If you would like to add your voice – please submit your piece on the future of economic development in Davis (800 to 1000 words).

May 1: Robb Davis

May 2: Elaine Roberts Musser

May 3: Dan Carson

May 4: Matt Williams

May 6: Peter Bell

May 7: Bob Fung

May 9: Rob White

May 16: Alan Humason

May 17: Mike Hart

May 18: Judy Corbett

May 19: Mark Braly

May 20: Susan Rainier

May 21: Tia Will

May 22: Anya McCann

May 24: Bob Poppenga

May 27: Dushyant Pathak

May 30: Jim Gray

May 31: Ralph Hexter

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About The Author

Disclaimer: the views expressed by guest writers are strictly those of the author and may not reflect the views of the Vanguard, its editor, or its editorial board.

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2 thoughts on “Economic Development Series: The Future of Local Economic Development”

  1. Frankly

    I need to study this bill more, but my first reaction is that it is not a good idea.

    Economic development needs to be done in a public-private partnership where control exist for neither to game the system and take too much control.   No program is ever perfect.  And all programs are subject to exploitation from both sides and oversight needs to be constantly adjusted as a counter.

    RDA was imperfect precisely because it lacked the level of oversight needed, but it was well-designed as a public-private partnership mechanism.

  2. Misanthrop

    “My bill, AB 806, would better equip local governments to acquire, sell, or lease a property in the effort to create more development opportunities.”

    By eminent domain?

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