Recently, I released “A Blueprint for Prosperity,” my plan for economic development in North County. Should I be fortunate enough to serve as your next County Supervisor, it’s my goal to hit the ground running and immediately begin working to strengthen our regional economy.
As an Oceanside Councilmember for more than a decade, I’ve had the opportunity to play an important role in the economic boom that Oceanside is now experiencing. Not only have we been able to bring new shops, residences and restaurants to Oceanside, but we did so with community buy-in and support.
When it comes to North County as a whole, the challenges are much more unique and of greater scale. Accordingly, it’s important we develop a regional, collaborative approach among our numerous and diverse communities.
My plan for economic development has several facets, but together form a unifying vision for the region.
First, I believe we must strengthen and grow our regional relationships. North County is home to multiple cities, communities, and tribal governments. We have a wide array of industries including manufacturing, tourism, agriculture, biotechnology, green technology, health care, education and many others.
By working together and ensuring we’re on the same page, we can identify opportunities, avoid duplicated efforts and leverage our resources to better serve the local economy.
Second, we must do what we can to recruit and retain businesses, both large and small. Part of this process includes finding ways to reduce the cost of living, to make North County a more appealing place to relocate or expand. We should also be using county grant funding to invest in the next generation of workers to ensure North County nurtures a healthy pool of workers.
Third, we need to do what we can to support agriculture and tourism throughout North County. Our region has more small farms than any other county in the nation, and it’s important we have policies that make it easier — not harder — for family farms to succeed. A strong agricultural economy means a strong North County economy.
In addition, North County is home to countless tourism opportunities, including Legoland, the Flower Fields, Bates Nut Farm, dozens of wineries, pristine beaches, scenic hiking, and countless other attractions. We need to support these local attractions and continue promoting North County as a destination for visitors.
Finally, we need to cut red tape at the County and make it easier to start and grow a business. One of the most significant steps we can take is to remove costly and burdensome regulations, which cost time and money, putting an extra strain on young businesses.
Part of this process includes allowing residents to “flag” any regulations they believe are unnecessary or overly costly. Should a regulation receive a sufficient number of flags, it should go through a required review by the county to determine if it should be modified or eliminated.
We have tremendous opportunity for long-term, sustained economic growth in North County. By working toward a collaborative vision, focusing on our strongest industries and getting government out of the way, we can ensure that opportunity becomes a reality.
Oceanside Councilman Jerry Kern is running to represent the 5th District on the San Diego County Board of Supervisors.