REG REFORM HITS THE GROUND RUNNING
The El Dorado County Economic Development Advisory Committee’s (EDAC) Regulatory Reform subcommittee has hit the ground running with several meetings held last week. Many found there’s an excitement in the air as EDAC’s Regulatory Reformers move to involve various community representatives in the process of defining their local goals and identity. Last Friday the group held their regularly scheduled Reg Reform meeting at 8 am and had to move into the Planning Commission hearing room at 10 am to accommodate more attendees.
The draw for this meeting was based on prior meetings held in December, which began to explore several goals recently defined as:
- Strategic planning for the future that includes a centralized County homepage
- Community Identity outreach to include all areas of the County in future planning
- Centralized grant writing which could fund incentive programs and provide matching dollars for community
These goals are consistent with prior direction given by the EDC Board of Supervisors (BOS) and set forth in the 2004 General Plan Economic Development Element, which reads: “…to utilize the Economic Development Providers Network or other Board of Supervisor recognized economic development organizations (i.e. EDAC) to advise and recommend to the Board of Supervisors policies that will facilitate the County’s economic vitality.”
Further, in their Strategic Direction adopted on May 25, 2010, the BOS determined that the county “…continue a collaborative process with EDAC, Development Services Department and the Department of Transportation (DOT) to ad- dress regulatory reform issues.”
It has become clear that each of the goals set forth above requires involving various local communities and their representatives in this part of the planning process. A centralized County homepage is sorely needed in El Dorado County and that need ties in directly to the need for upgraded IT (Information Technology) services. Recent participants have expressed their frustration that so much of our area is still on “dial up” internet access. Broadband is one technology that has the support of some knowledgeable locals and has been a fledgling project that is currently still struggling to find a sponsor to move it from a concept to a reality (look for an upcoming article in this newsletter).
One can go to any of a variety of areas throughout this state and find one web page that links web visitors to different areas, activities or neighborhoods within that county or city. Yet El Dorado County currently lacks that one-stop shopping website and link for tourists or potential businesses to peruse. Thus identifying all of this areas’ sites, activities and organizations to link up is now needed.
Our third goal deals with much-needed funding to help our entire community to access funds that would help us to achieve the first two goals. Although EDAC has really performed miracles so far, due to many volunteers’ hard sweat and tears in some cases, we are at the point where we need paid professionals for some of these activities. Grants have been identified as a key source of funding for exactly the types of programs our area has accomplished without any funding to date.
At Reg Reform meetings held last week, community representatives came forward to help to identify a variety of needs of our community. We heard from many people and we heard some exciting ideas: We heard of Davey “Doc” Wiser’s successful effort to treat tourists (and residents!) to a real stagecoach ride and his vision for expanding the El Dorado railroad train rides and create a rail museum in El Dorado: We heard of Betty January’s vision to turn the vacant Placerville Courthouse into a history museum: We heard from Apple Hill’s Maryann Argyres and were stunned by the reality that 2014 is their 50th year in operation and it has all been accomplished by active volunteers without outside funding: We heard about El Dorado Hills residents’ desires to be more involved in the land use planning of their area: And we learned of options and the potential that Broadband and other technologies would bring to our communities.
The input given at this recent meeting was about growing the community, for the community good. If we, as a com- munity, can accomplish so much with unfunded volunteers – and we’ve just scratched the surface, it’s exciting to think about what we can do, as a community, if we use a small portion of our existing county promotional fund, and parlay it into more money for community projects. And such projects can be accomplished as identified by our goal for a centralized grant writing program. EDAC has been exploring centralized grant writing as a way to maximize a small portion of our county’s current promotional funds to assist with a variety of community projects within our county, including the Community Identification (which some are calling CDAC) processes that have financial needs. These programs are an excellent example of what many planning grants are available for.
Currently EDAC is in the process of identifying what organizations now exist, what their mission statements are, what their goals and wish lists are, and how a focused, unified, community effort might help to seek financial support. We encourage all those with a can do ‘tude (good attitude) to join these efforts!