Prospecting for Growth at the ERC Economic Summit – the Path Forward for Nevada County
David Roland-Holst, Professor of Agricultural and Environmental Economics at UC Berkeley, presented to a sold-out crowd at the ERC’s Economic Summit this week. He spoke about “Prospecting for Growth in the Gold Country” — securing long-term prosperity for Nevada County.
Much of what Roland-Holst had to say will not surprise to anyone who has been paying attention to the Nevada County economy. Until we overcome two barriers – lack of affordable housing and lack of broadband internet – the prospects for growth are grim. These factors affect all of the industry sectors that Roland-Holst believes have the greatest potential in Nevada County – agriculture, tourism, and technology.
Internet is the New Drinking Water
IT infrastructure is especially important to the demographic that is most valuable to Nevada County – young families headed by tech workers who telecommute. “Internet access is the new drinking water,” said Roland-Holst. While there are some advantages to hosting a demographic that consists mainly of retirees, more young families are needed to make our community thrive. They spend more and in more diverse areas, use a wider range of social, personal, and financial services, and support a broader spectrum of employment, Roland-Holst said.
Attracting Satellite Offices with the Nevada County Lifestyle
In addition to these educated and affluent folks, Roland-Holst thinks it is more realistic to aim our recruiting efforts at companies who are looking to place satellite offices, not necessarily headquarters. (The Nevada County Economic Resource Council hired 310 Marketing late last year to research and connect them with exactly that demographic.) Roland-Holst believes that Nevada County’s biggest advantages in attracting these companies and tech workers are our county’s quality of life and low cost of living.
NCTC is on the Right Track
The Nevada County Tech Connection (NCTC) is already working on several of Roland-Holst’s suggestions for marketing our region: uniting organizations by sector into co-ops and association, promoting the Nevada County lifestyle, and creating public-private partnerships.
“It’s not an issue of not enough jobs in the county,” said Roland-Holst. Nevada County has a relatively high employment rate, and could absorb more workers.” It’s a matter of letting tech workers know about the jobs that exist in our county, and training the newly emerging local workforce. NCTC is connecting tech talent with jobs through our Tech Talent and Business Directory, and developing new tech talent through our Talent Development task force and partnership with local learning institutions. We are optimistic about strengthening Nevada County’s tech sector, and growing our economy.