01/30/12

Plans for Economic Growth in North County

As written by Debbie Ramsey in The Fallbrook Village News on January 26, 2012:

At the January 19 Fallbrook Revitalization Council meeting, attendees heard about plans for a new vision under development for North San Diego County dubbed ‘Prosperity on Purpose.’ The $500,000 project, funded initially by County Supervisor Bill Horn through the Neighborhood Reinvestment Program with contributions from city governments in North County, involves a partnership with the San Diego North Economic Development Council. 

"This is a great opportunity for us to say what we want to be when we grow up," said Vince Ross, chairman of the Fallbrook Revitalization Council, with a chuckle. 

Prosperity on Purpose is designed to be a comprehensive, action-oriented regional economic development strategy with the goal of systematically moving the North San Diego County economy forward. 

"We feel North County is often overlooked when it comes to economic strategies," said Linda Bailey, project manager, Community Strategies Group. 

Bailey substantiated her statement by recapping the amount of federal funding received for this area recently. 

"From 2009 to 2011, $266,803,824 in grant funding was provided to California. Out of that, North San Diego County has only gotten $137,000 and that was primarily for a program the City of Oceanside had with the military. San Diego County, overall, has gotten over $22 million." 

"It’s time for us to say we are all tired of this; we are tired of missing opportunities and we are ready to move forward," said Bailey. 

Bailey said the goal of the Prosperity on Purpose project is to develop a one to five-year plan with specific ideas and apply for grant funding to accomplish them. The plan also includes implementation of the ideas once funded. 

She said it was important that cities, unincorporated communities, and Native American tribal councils in North County to "think outside their borders" and work together toward a common, interwoven goal in order to provide support strength to each other. 

"There is nothing we can do unless we address this as a region; to be successful, our neighboring areas need to be successful," said Bailey. "We will do visioning for land use, public works, housing, transportation, environment, and cost of living." Bailey cited Oceanside, San Marcos, Vista, and Escondido as the municipalities with the unincorporated areas adjoining those. 

Bailey said Supervisor Horn "was not satisfied with the General Plan 2020 update," which led to this effort on his part. Horn’s representative at the meeting, Anita Lightfoot, concurred. 

"This is a big deal for us at Supervisor Horn’s office," said Lightfoot. 

In a letter regarding the Prosperity on Purpose program, Horn said, "North County has unparalleled access to natural resources, transportation infrastructure, education institutions, regional entertainment venues, and an abundance of land that is not generating its economic potential." 

Bailey said one thing organizers hope to achieve is to be able to use federal funds to provide incentives for companies to locate in North County – thus creating more jobs. 

"Supervisor Horn is also trying to reduce the county red tape that is problematic for new companies as well," she said. 

Meetings are currently underway in all North County communities with the goal of collecting as much input from stakeholders as possible so the new plan can be developed right away. 

"We plan on having a preliminary document ready to put out for review by May," said Bailey, who explained that the timing is important because the federal government will release its grant focus areas for the new fiscal year on July 1. 

"We want to be ready when those [focuses] are released so we can apply for any that fit our plans; we plan on making multiple submissions," she said.