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SECTION II:  POTENTIAL STRATEGIES
Group D: STRATEGIES THAT SUPPORT AN AGRICULTURAL ECONOMY

Strategy D2: Promote economic development

DESCRIPTION

The Delta has many small, isolated, and potentially under-capitalized farms and agricultural support companies. Delta businesses could benefit from increased access to capital and financial expertise.

There are number of ways to support or promote economic development in the Delta t the Delta (or perhaps the Delta plus Suisun Marsh and the Yolo Bypass) that could ensure a central depository for technical expertise, financing, business development, and promotional efforts that would benefit the Delta, including Delta agriculture. These could include some or all of the mechanisms listed below. 

  • The formation of an Economic Development Corporation (EDC). An EDC is an organization, usually a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation, whose mission is to promote economic development and job creation within a specific geographic area.  It is controlled by a local Board of Directors, and often receives some funds from local governments, and technical expertise from local colleges.  It often provides technical advice and low-interest loans to help new businesses get started in the area, and to enable existing businesses, including farms, to expand their operations.
  • An Economic Development Summit Conference.  While not an ongoing institution, it can help organize and produce thinking about how to move forward.
  • An agricultural ombudsman program that assists farmers, ranchers, and agriculture-related businesses with various permitting processes, including assistance with agricultural permitting, standards and reporting as required by regulatory agencies. An ombudsman could help to facilitate and expedite the development and implementation of agricultural projects. (See Strategy D5.2)
  • A position within an existing EDC that focuses on part or all of the five-county Delta region.

RELATED PROGRAMS AND POLICIES

There are more than 80 different regional, county, or city-level EDC's or similar organizations in California.  Not one covers the Delta.  The San Joaquin Partnership covers all of San Joaquin County.  The Solano EDC serves all of Solano County.  The Sacramento Area Commerce and Trade Organization serves all of Sacramento and Yolo Counties, plus four other counties which do not contain any part of the Delta. While Contra Costa County does not have an EDC, a number of businesses, local government entities, and educators in eastern Contra Costa County have created East Contra Costa Squared (EC2). EC2 is a volunteer-run collaborative focusing on economic development and education and the nexus of the two.

The Kern EDC could serve as a model for a Delta EDC.  It works to ensure a "diverse and strong economic climate for all businesses in Kern County."  It supports the growth of local "value-added agriculture" by "recruiting related business" to the county and working with existing value-added agricultural businesses – such as wineries.  The Kern EDC has formed task forces to aid local agriculture by addressing some of the industry's challenges, including regulatory burdens, resource needs, logistics, transportation, and infrastructure, as well as research and development. 

The Central Valley Business Incubator (CVBI) is a resource for entrepreneurs wishing to start or expand an enterprise.  It partners with UC Merced and CSU Fresno-affiliated institutions to help support agricultural and other businesses in the San Joaquin Valley.

ISSUES

Possible issues which could affect developing an organization and implementing a program to support economic development in the Delta include the following:

  • Funding.  Significant funds, from low-interest loans, grants, and contracts, would be needed to create, and then to operate, a Delta Economic Development Corporation.  While some base funding could come from the five Delta Counties, as well as local entrepreneurs and philanthropists, additional funding would probably be needed, at least at the beginning, to get it started.
  • Non-political boundaries.  Although many EDC's in California cover more than one county, there does not appear to be an EDC which covers a region such as the Delta, which includes parts of six different counties.
  • Some of the support given by a Delta EDC would go to non-agricultural companies in the Delta.  However, a sustainable and prosperous Delta economy would also benefit Delta agriculture.

PARTNERS AND POSSIBLITIES

  • The Discover the Delta Foundation, which promotes tourism and recreation in the Delta, helps preserve the Delta's rich heritage, and supports Delta agriculture by sponsoring Farmer's Markets and other activities.
  • Colleges and universities in and near the Delta, including UC Davis, CSUS, the University of the Pacific, and the various local Community Colleges.
  • The Sacramento Area Council of Governments, which promotes economic development and local agriculture in two of the Delta Counties (Sacramento and Yolo), plus four other counties.
  • The San Joaquin Council of Governments, which promotes economic development in San Joaquin County.
  • The Delta Stewardship Council.
  • The Delta Conservancy, which is authorized to "spend funds on developing an economic sustainability program" for the Delta .
  • The Association of Bay Area Governments, which promotes economic development in three Delta Counties (Alameda, Contra Costa, and Solano), plus six other counties.
  • The Farm Bureaus of the five Delta Counties.
  • The Delta Protection Commission, which authored the Delta Economic Sustainability Plan.
  • The local banking community.
  • Regional labor organizations.
  • Delta region Chambers of Commerce.

For more information about the Kern EDC, visit their Website at http://www.kedc.com/ .

For more information about the Discover the Delta Foundation, please visit: http://www.discoverthedelta.org/

From Page 2 of an 8/19/10 letter from Mary N. Piepho, Delta Conservancy Chairperson, to Phil Isenberg, Delta Stewardship Council Chairperson.

If you would like to provide feedback on this strategy, please click the following link: Agricultural Stewardship Strategy Feedback Form

ALS Workgroup: ALS Framework and Strategies: Section II:  Strategy D2 Economic Development: 102913