Organization will seek to attract, expand local business.
Local businessmen applauded Tuesday night as the Santa Clarita City Council passed a measure that will help fund the Santa Clarita Valley Economic Development Corporation (SCVEDC), a new entity seeking to retain and expand local business, as well as attract new enterprises. The city will cooperate with COC, the Chamber of Commerce, the Valley Industrial Association, and other key agencies through the SCVEDC to take a more focused and organized approach toward growing the local economy.
The decision will provide $75,000 unencumbered, with another $125,000 available to match funds contributed by other donors. This strategy was offered as a compromise by Mayor Frank Ferry, in response to competing concerns for prudent spending and maintaining regional competitiveness. The monies will be drawn from the Council Contingency Fund.
Councilmembers Marsha McLean and Laurie Ender voiced concerns for duplication of efforts, as economic development currently falls under the purview of many local organizations, including the COC small business development center, the Valley Industrial Association, and the Chamber of Commerce. The city already spends approximately $1.6 million annually on such efforts through its economic development department.
Councilmember Bob Kellar and Mayor Pro Tem Laurene Weste emphasized the importance of job creation, especially in times of recession. An economic development corporation could be a route toward attracting new investment, both public and private.
Research into the potential of an SCVEDC was performed as part of the 21-Point Business Plan for Progress, approved by the council earlier this year. As a result of this research, City Manager Ken Pulskamp recommended that the council approve a $50,000 straight investment, with an equal sum available as matching funds.
Representatives of both the SCVEDC and other stakeholders came before the council to voice their support of this funding, with many asking for support in the amount of $200,000. Businessman Larry Rasmussen claimed that anything less than this amount would prevent the corporation from hiring a talented executive director and covering its operating costs.
"Two years of work will be gone if we don't get $200,000 from the city. We need the money and we need it now," said Rasmussen.
The SCVEDC has applied with the IRS to become a 501(c)(3) non-profit. It will seek donations from both public and private sources, with the aim of becoming self-sustaining. As a result of Tuesday's vote, Pulskamp will sit on the board of directors for the organization and will provide a quarterly report to the council regarding it.