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The Board of Supervisors on Tuesday received a report from Mark Lascelles, of the Shasta County Economic Development Corporation. It was modestly encouraging, and contained a cautionary tale within. The national economic environment is tepid; companies are not expanding and especially not into California. At the state level, however, there is good growth in technology and in distribution, especially around the ports. Lascelles reminded the community that California is its own business environment, different from the other 50 states. We can fight that environment, say what we like about it, or we can work within it. Lascelles says that the Economic Development Corporation is changing focus to find those companies that can work well in the California economy and will come up and work well with the resources Shasta County has to offer.
At the local level, this approach appears to be working well. According to Lascelles, Shasta County is doing much better than most in the state. An unemployment rate that was 17.5% four years ago is now around 10%. The Milken Institute, a nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank, found in 2013 that Redding was one of seven (out of 150) small cities in California that are performing well economically. The strength in our area is the creation of new jobs. In fact, our area is reaching the point where qualified employees are getting harder to find for some industries. The weakness is that wage levels remain low, with most of the new jobs coming from the service and retail industries.
The Economic Development Corporation is working on attracting airlines to the area and finding tenants for the Stillwater Business Park. The Corporation is marketing the area consistent with the message laid out above, looking for businesses ready to locate in California and to utilize the kinds of resources available in our area. The Corporation is also encouraging startup development with new businesses, and providing mentoring for new businesses. Lascelles completed his report with the following message: we can’t keep fighting to go back to the Old California. We have to be part of the competitive, globalized economy.
The Board approved submission of a chart showing priorities for part- and full-day child care as a part of their Consent Calendar. The chart was prepared by the Shasta County Local Child Care and Development Planning Council for submission to the California Department of Education to guide distribution of any new child care funding. Unfortunately, expansion child care funding has not been available for several years. The priorities are developed every year based on the potential demand for child care services, the current availability of care, and the resulting percentage of unmet need. If you would like to see the priority rankings by zip code, go to www.co.shasta.ca.us. Go to the Board of Supervisors, then the agenda for 5-13 and view the backup material for agenda item C-1.
The Board also approved extending for one year, and then ending, a child welfare program, Transitional Housing Plus for young people 18-24 who were in foster care at age 18. The program has provided housing and supportive services to assist these young people in planning for adulthood. No new applicants will be accepted for this final year, and those in the program will be assisted to complete their transition plan by June 30, 2015. This small program (up to eight enrollees) is being eliminated as it is being replaced by a new statewide program, Expanded Foster Care. This new program is required statewide., All foster youth who reach 18 in care and wish to participate will be assisted with transitional housing and other services as part of individual emancipation plans expected to be achieved by age 21. This program serves young people in foster care through both child welfare and probation and provides more services than the program being eliminated. It also provides an expedited planning process for emancipation. The Board approved this change unanimously.
Catherine Camp is currently retired. During her career, she worked as a policy and budget analyst for the California Assembly and California Senate, in health and human services fields. She worked as a policy analyst and advocate for California’s public mental health system. Early in her career, she worked in the Community Action and Head Start programs in Shasta County.