Thursday, February 10, 2005

"Area's leading business minds" miss Telecom Valley's well-paid engineers

Here's the good news: "the leading business minds of the area believe the North Bay is poised for a strong year in 2005 ... If interest rates don't rise rapidly, the county should see steady job growth."

So said the Press Democrat, in a 2/6/05 editorial, "Looking up/North Bay's resolve to attract jobs will be tested in 2005". The area's leading business minds communed at their annual North Bay Economic Outlook Conference 2/3/05, at the Hyatt Vineyard Creek Hotel.

And here's the editor's warning: "Hopeful projections are one thing. But an economic recovery won't happen without many people working together including business leaders, elected officials, educators--and voters."

Huh? If the area's leading business minds say economic recovery requires "job growth", why hasn't the PD reported that the major local problem is unemployment?

And what do educators, and the voters, have to do with "job growth"? I thought the business leaders, and their friends at City Hall and the County Center, made the decisions about the local economy.

The editor explained the problem was not attracting just any jobs, but "high-paying engineering" jobs: "[Sonoma County] also has its share of challenges. Chief among them is the high cost of housing. While big-box stores bring much-needed sales tax revenues to cities, they don't provide the kind of jobs that can afford a median-price home of $547,000.

Economists noted that one of the real questions for this year will be whether the economy is able to replace the kind of high-paying engineering jobs that were lost during the downturn. If that doesn't happen soon, the rebound will take longer

So the editor's complaint was that local workers don't make enough money to buy a half-million dollar house. Seems to me the editor, and the area's leading business minds, should have known Sonoma County's short-lived "Telecom Valley" boom would be highly inflationary for most of the local population.

The editor recommended, "Sonoma County needs to create the kind of environment that attracts these kinds of jobs, which we once took for granted." It's clear they took the Telecom Valley job boom for granted. What's amazing is, they think they can make it happen again. I wonder how the local leaders missed the obvious facts that the new telecommunications engineering firms were meant to be bought out or close; and never had any real connections to the local business community.

Telecom Valley indeed went bust a few years ago, but the editor still recommended, "The county also needs to make sure our schools and universities are producing the kind of skilled workers that these companies need." That's where the educators came in. It seems the editor thinks Telecom Valley is still hiring. Maybe he didn't read in the PD that Agilent has moved to Malaysia.

As for the voters, he cautioned, "Voters addressed some key regional transportation concerns with the passage of Measure M in November. But the area faces other challenges as well, such as the need to bring commercial air service back to Charles M. Schulz-Sonoma County Airport."

Ah, yes. Two other frequent complaints of the area's finest business minds. First, that freeway congestion inhibits continuous unmitigated local growth for private profit. Of course, it was continuous unmitigated growth that caused the congestion in the first place.

And then, renewed commercial airline service might also bring more business to Sonoma County. In the end, the finest business minds always call for more "Economic Development"--which is to say, more ways for them to make money.

At least they didn't blame the Telecom Valley bust on the California Tiger Salamander.


Post a Comment

<< Home