Here is a list of a few things that Lake County should be doing to encourage Economic Development:
- Set a jobs creation goal for the County’s Economic Development department. This seems so obvious, but believe it or not, no such goal has ever been declared. The County should set a measurable goal such as “2000 new jobs created to existing and new Lake County companies through incentives and active recruitment.”
- Set a concise vision. Any successful business has a vision and goals. Yet amazingly, Lake County has no such plan. No, this is not the vision described in the Comprehensive Plan as Commissioner Renick has stated. This is a short vision statement that defines who we are and what we want for our future. It is unified from North Lake to South Lake and has buy-in from all stakeholders including all Cities and Towns. It represents all interests, not just one group.
- Streamline permitting for all businesses, not just targeted industries. The small business guy in Astatula deserves the same business advocacy as the large clean manufacturing company gets.
- Support the Cities with their economic goals. Recent Commission resistance to the City of Clermont’s plans for job centers (not homes) served to only further a political divide that is prevalent in the County and some Cities.
- Minimize Impact Fees and examine opportunities to abate property taxes for several years until new projects are up and running.
- Economic Development Committees – expand on the EDAC concept by developing Regional Committees (Triangle, North Lake, South Lake) that are made up of business leaders in the community. These leaders would work in conjunction with the Chambers of Commerce to develop strategies and tactics to expand jobs and economic health within their region. These are the experts who should implement Lake County’s economic development efforts – not bureaucrats.
- Create Regional Go To Teams – Develop small (5-7 individuals) teams of prominent business, civic and elected leaders that would act as the Ambassadors of the community in the recruitment of potential new businesses. These teams would be made of skilled professionals who would have a background in business development, marketing, and sales who could articulate the best attributes of the community.
- Dare to dream – think regionally, place more job centers on the Future Land Use Map and assist the Cities who want to plan for the opportunity to add high wage job centers on their land use maps. It is O.K. to believe Lake County can land a “Burnham Institute” or “Innovation Way” while maintaining our quality of life.
In the next edition of my blog, I want to discuss how the quality of life issues such as water and parks and recreation go hand in hand with economic growth. I also want to discuss my commitment to improving education in Lake County as a central issue to creating more jobs and diversifying our economy.
Lastly, but most importantly, I want to discuss some ways I think your tax dollars can be better spent.
So my parting question for today is: If Economic Development is so important to Commissioner Renick, then why hasn’t any of the above been initiated? Why did it take 6 years to get a Comprehensive Plan finished delaying ANY future development (housing aside) that may have created jobs in Lake County?