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by JUDY HODGSON
Reading the Times-Standard's
editorials over the years has been a challenge. When it was owned
by the Thompson chain and operated by Publisher Jerry Colby,
who retired in the mid '90s, pretty much everything that was
good for business and industry got a thumbs up. The newspaper
never saw a development it didn't like. The editorials may have
infuriated you, but at least they were consistent.
Since its purchase in 1996 by
MediaNews there have been four or five different publishers and
possibly as many editors, each with a learning curve. The editorials
became more erratic but less tied to industry especially the
last few years. (That change was largely due to the influence
of the late David Anderson, a veteran reporter who sat on the
paper's editorial board. David died in January.)
High turnover, unfortunately,
results in gaps in institutional memory, which is the only explanation
for last Saturday's editorial, "More changes for the North
The editorial makes some interesting
observations by comparing Humboldt County's economic base with
Fort Bragg and Crescent City. But then it goes on to say, "Humboldt
Bay and Eureka/Arcata/McKinleyville triplex ... three great names
... one great community ... In this time of change, there's a
great need to work together" toward an economic development
vision in light of the decline in the timber and fishing industries.
"Groups meet and talk, but not much happens. ... Perhaps
it's time for some sort of regional organization ... a group
that represents the triplex and works to get everyone on the
Actually, a great deal is happening
and it started in 1989 with the formation of the Humboldt County
Economic Development Forum, a 120-member group made up of all
those working in economic development, employment development,
social services, plus business owners and community leaders.
The forum analyzed economic development strategies and commissioned
the report, "What Businesses Make Sense in Humboldt County,"
also known as the Mountain West Study. The forum continues to
In 1998 an outreach effort coordinated
by the newly created Institute for the North Coast was begun.
It involved more than 200 local businesses, 300 nonprofit organizations
and a multitude of agencies. The result is a document called
"Prosperity! a North Coast Strategy," which was adopted
by the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors as its Comprehensive
Economic Development Strategy. (See Journal cover story
of Sept. 7, 2000, "What's the plan, Humboldt?")
"Prosperity" is more
than another dust-catching report. It summarizes key findings
on the economy, the environment and the people. It defines what
we call the quality of life, why we live here and how to preserve
that quality. And it sets out a working model for appropriate
economic development based on commonly held beliefs, such as
the need to grow and support our nine base industry clusters
lumber, education, tourism, dairy, manufacturing, fisheries,
agriculture, arts and culture, and information technology and
the need to encourage small owner-resident businesses.
The forum continues to meet
and the Prosperity! effort is moving soon into phase two which
will more directly involve the larger cities Arcata, Eureka and
Fortuna. The cities will be asked to formally adopt the strategy
along with specific goals that are unique to their municipalities.
Phase two is being coordinated by the 19-member Redwood Region
Economic Development Commission, a key player with representatives
from all the seven cities and the county.
Why all these efforts are not
more visible, that they don't often make the news, is that generally
speaking, conflict makes news the financial woes of the Arcata
Economic Development Corp. and the city of Arcata, for instance.
But economic development coordination is happening nonetheless.
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