In late August, the Amador County Chamber of Commerce sent e-mail messages to all its members asking them to participate in creating the Amador County Economic Development Plan. The Chamber has three different options for participating:
- See maps of Amador County and engage in anonymous discussions with others about developing specific areas.
- Fill out an online survey for businesses and managers about economic development and the impact of COVID-19 on their businesses.
- If you’re not a business or manager, you can fill out an online survey for County residents and workers to share thoughts about living and working in the county.
This effort is part of a larger one to develop a Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) for the county. Kim Holland, the Senior Administrative Analyst for Amador County, said the Board of Supervisors first learned about CEDS from Kim Dolbow Vann, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development Director, on December 12, 2018.
Vann informed the Board of Supervisors about the benefits of developing a CEDS for the county, especially the funding opportunities through the USDA. On May 28, 2019, the Board directed county staff to apply to the U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Agency (EDA) for a development grant.
The EDA awarded a $70,000 grant to the city at the end of 2019, which the Board of Supervisors accepted at their meeting on January 14, 2020. The total cost of development the CEDS is $87,500, with the county paying $17,500. Holland said the goal of creating the CEDS is “to develop an economic strategy that will result in a strong and resilient economy.”
The Board of Supervisors subsequently hired a consultant for the project and created an Ad Hoc Economic Development Committee. General Services Administration director Jon Hopkins, District 1 Supervisor Patrick Crew, District 4 Supervisor Frank Axe, and Holland comprise that committee.
What’s more, the Board created a CEDS Strategy Committee that includes the four members of the Ad Hoc Economic Development Committee, city managers, and the Mayor of Amador City. The Strategy Committee also includes a wide variety of private stakeholders in agriculture, business, education, finance, forest management, infrastructure, local tribes, real estate, tourism, transportation, winegrowers, and workforce development.
“While the County initiated the effort,” Holland added, “the cities and private stakeholders are a vital part of the project.”
With the public health emergency precluding public meetings, Holland said the county worked with their consultant to develop the CEDS website to spur discussions and feedback. “Public engagement is an essential element to the development of an economic strategy, and we are encouraged to see the community participating in this effort,” Holland said.
On the website, she added, “the major areas identified for development are included along with the option to post ideas, thoughts, or questions regarding each of the sites.” These areas are in icons on the left side of the maps screen and include locations in cities, major developments, and priority sites. Click on an icon to view a pop-up window that tells you more about that area.
Each area of development in the map has an orange “speech bubble” icon (shown below) that you can click to view the first comment. Within the pop-up box, click the View the Discussion link to view all responses to the original comment. All comments are anonymous.
There are currently no limits to the number of comments you can add to the map. Create your own discussion by clicking the green Add Comment above the map to the location on the map that you want to comment about. “It is encouraging to see discussion evolve out of the posted comments,” Holland said. “Amador County is fortunate to have residents willing to share their thoughts and ideas to strengthen our local economy.”
The CEDS is still in development, but Holland said the county will submit the strategy to the EDA in early November for their review. If the EDA approves the county CEDS, Holland said, then the next step for the strategic committee is to develop goals, objectives, and an action plan for various projects. The county can then ask the federal government to help fund those projects.
If you’re curious about the steps needed to create a CEDS, read more on the EDA website. You can participate in the online discussions as well as take the surveys by clicking on the links in the Amador County Chamber of Commerce website homepage.
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