The Nevada County Economic Resource Council (ERC) is comprised of a Board of Directors that represents a wide variety of both the public and private sectors. Agents from both city and county government join representatives from many of the industries that make up the local business community, including health care, manufacturing, technology, retail, agriculture, tourism, construction and education. Executive Dean of Sierra College Nevada County Campus, Stephanie Ortiz has been involved with the ERC since 2009 and is currently the Chair-elect. Her belief in the important role the ERC plays within the community, includes a strong relationship between the educational institution, and the needs of the local work force.
Oritiz said, ”I started going to the meetings and I could see that it was an important place to share and disseminate information that helped move us toward economic stability and prosperity for Nevada County. I have always been interested in economic development issues and particularly the aspect of workforce development within the overall umbrella of economic development.”
She said she has long highly valued career technical education (better known to some as vocational education). Ortiz said she believes in looking at a college education in an expanded way to include taking course work that provides people with a path to learning skillsets that are needed bylocal employers.
Over its tenure, the ERC has facilitated conversation between local business owners and local educators that has lead, in part, to the college offering certifications in areas needed to fill some areas needed by employers.
Finding meaningful careers does not always mean earning a bachelor’s degrees or higher. Sierra College now offers over two dozen certifications to help fill labor force shortages including those in allied health such as nursing and medical assistants and in business. In fact, a full-time staff member has been hired at the Nevada County Campus to facilitate business curriculum.
In addition, Ortiz continues to request and gather information to help the college meet the needs of the community she said, “ I asked the arm of the community college system that does economic forecasting to write a report about economic opportunity in all of Nevada County in all industry sectors. That is another example of how my work on the ERC has helped me connect Nevada County with the resources of the California Community College system.”
The Nevada County Economic Resource Council is just that Ortiz said, “It’s a council of people who bring their unique perspective on economic issues and economic development, literally to the table to discuss issues, opportunities and challenges facing Nevada County, particularly Western Nevada County.“
It’s that mechanism of coming together and being able to discuss share and sometimes disagree, that helps the organization provide resources pertinent to the unique needs of the community.
The ERC also works with the Eastern part of the county through the Sierra Business Council.
To become involved with the ERC and to learn more about programs available to assist business including the ERC initiative NC Tech Connection check out www.ncerc.org
written by Hollie Grimaldi Flores and adapted from The Union article