Memo to File: The current Economic Resource Council and its hired analyst Gene Warren have discovered that “retirees could be ticket to better local economy” as reported in the 5mar12 Union (couldn't find online version). This little piece of information should be old hat to anyone who has been paying attention for the last seven years or so. At SESF (Sierra Economic and Science Foundation) we took a look at the county’s economic future, and it was easy money to discover that the three viable legs of our economy in the out years would be retirees, tourism, and information technology industry (NOT manufacturing).
We started telling everyone in earshot from the BoS down to the local service clubs about this conclusion. To no avail. People kept holding economic development workshops every couple of years in which the forest was invisible because of all the pie charts and green propaganda that got in the way. To no one’s surprise, these gatherings led to nothing.
In the meanwhile I and my colleagues were trying to convince the local jurisdictions to start promoting Nevada County as the ‘Santa Barbara or Scottsdale of the Sierra’ that would welcome well-to-do retirees as the most attractive, low impact, cash importers to our community. What they needed – restaurants, entertainment, cultural events, peace and quiet, social life, low crime, medical care, natural beauty, … - was already here. What we didn’t have was a policy that would readily permit the development of high-end condo communities with all the amenities, optional in-home assistance, and controlled access. With some pluck, the retireds today come here and buy/build on acreage. But as they age, their choices to stay in Nevada County are limited to modicum elder care facilities, or a move to more comfortable denser housing in a strange community elsewhere. Few seemed to understand this.
Now with a hired gun from the outside talking to ERC, an agency that is still trying to get its bearings and convince members to contribute enough to pay for a phone, desk, and file cabinet, we may have found a believable source. I sure as hell hope we didn’t pay him more than SESF got for dispensing the same wisdom. But at least Gene Warren was able to get Jeff Ackerman’s front-page attention which may even percolate up to the city councils and Supes.
Now I know how the Indians felt when Columbus told them that it was he who had discovered America.
[6mar12 update] Speaking of tourism as a major county cash cow, our own Paul Emery will be on NPR CapRadio's Insight this morning at 10am to talk about how Nevada County has become "an arts powerhouse" in the region. Readers will recall that Paul is a noted producer of legitimate theater, music concerts, and also performs on stage now and then. Paul is also KVMR's News Director, RR reader/discussant, friend, and a sharp critic of anything that ripples off my keyboard (he actually fills in from where mom left off). Give Paul a listen, he's not that bad ;-)