In a prior article about Redding’s economic foundation, I made a point that resource extraction historically provided the foundational stones for our economic wall, bringing in outside money. As these industries changed, no longer providing the jobs they once did, our city was unable to replace those gaping holes in our foundational wall. Instead, we built up an economy around service and retail, which relied upon the recirculation of existing money. The gaping holes in the foundation of our economic wall, need to be replaced with diversified sectors that bring in outside money and represent the jobs of the future.
When a city like Redding relies upon industries that don’t bring in new money, it becomes vulnerable to the winds of economic downturns. We are just now rebuilding our economic wall after the last recession while other cities had recovered by 2010. As we strategically replace these key foundational stones with diversified sectors, we become less vulnerable to the boom and bust cycles that haunt our city.
So what are the jobs of the future? It is estimated that seventy percent of all jobs in California will be in STEM in the next ten years. Technology will continue to grow, and although tech and manufacturing sectors represent only four percent of our local economy, there is some exciting growth and potential here in Redding. The mobility of this sector, proximity to the Silicon Valley, low cost of living, and quality of life make Redding a good place for the tech sector. In addition, the Shasta County Office of Education understands the importance of STEM and is working strategically with all of the players in our community to develop a trained workforce. We have entrepreneurs like Faye Hall, formerly of Google, who started Code It and Build It to help train children and adults in coding skills here in our community. Shasta College has started an advanced manufacturing program, as this is another area of growth in our community.
Examples of tech companies that are growing in Redding include Spiritus Solutions, which provides back office support for Silicone Valley companies, Limelight Health, which has grown from four to twenty-seven employees in little over a year and smaller companies live Catavolt, and many others. Of the fifty new startups in the past year or so, close to eighty percent of these are in the tech sector. This is telling us where our future, or at least a good chunk of it, is headed. What if we doubled this sector from four to eight percent in the next five years? I believe it’s doable, and the economic impact would ripple throughout our economy. The synergy created by the growth in this sector will inspire new ideas and innovations, spawning the growth of new startups.
I hear people say we can’t do tech here. The truth is, we are doing tech here, and it’s growing. Instead of looking for reasons why we can’t be successful in growing jobs locally, let’s talk to the people who are doing it. What additional infrastructure do they need to accelerate growth? Wider access to lower cost broadband may be a worthwhile investment that our city makes to grow the jobs of the future and give our children an opportunity to make their dreams come true here.
In my run for Redding City Council in 2016, my economic focus group created a survey, which I am using to collect data from business owners. I want to know why they think Redding is a good place to do business. Do they feel the city appreciates what they bring to the community and what recommendations do they have for the city that would accelerate job growth? If you are interested, you can share your vision for our city on my website at juliewinter.com. Let’s strategically work together to leverage our assets as we grow the jobs of the future right here in Redding.
Julie Winter is an NP who works in family practice with Andre Van Mol,MD. Julie is a graduate of Leadership Redding and currently serves on the Community Development Advisory Committee for the city of Redding, as well as the board of directors for Advance Redding and the Redding Area PA/NP Alliance. She has lived in Redding since 1989 and is married with 2 children and 3 grandchildren. She is a 2016 Redding City Council candidate.