By Bill Buratto
Ventura County Star – August 6, 2011
I admit it. I’m a Ventura County Star junkie. The first thing I do each morning is grab the paper from the driveway and a cup of coffee to get caught up on what’s happening in the county, particularly in business and the economy.
But like most of us in this era of incessant and constant news, the articles I read one day often get lost in the barrage of information and yesterday’s news becomes, well, yesterday’s news.
But in the past several days a number of unrelated stories began to come together for me and seem to point toward a shift in our collective attention.
July 31, there was a piece on the Conejo Chamber’s new website that promotes a “buy local” campaign. Aug. 1, there was an article on the county’s “resilience capacity index,” which pointed out that while we scored well on some factors we didn’t do so well on others, and that disparity threatens our ability to recover from economic and other disasters.
And, finally, Aug. 2 there was an article about the Board of Supervisors looking for ways to boost local employment with the $175 million project at Ventura County Medical Center.
Now, what do these stories have in common? To me, they are all about jobs, our local economy and the future.
In a commentary published June 11 in The Star, I wrote: “We need to take local control of our own future and that means thinking outside the box … government and business both need to make buying local a priority … we need to give weight to local business, where we know the dollars spent are going back into the county.”
Buy local campaigns, like that of the Conejo Chamber and other chambers around the county, are important. They educate the public about the need for local tax revenue and encourage the support of local small businesses — the life’s blood of our economy.
How many of your friends and neighbors work for local businesses? How many are worried about keeping their jobs? You can do something positive about that when you buy local.
I was heartened by the supervisors’ actions to explore how local contractors and their employees can benefit from the medical center project. Supervisors Steve Bennett and Kathy Long are to be commended for raising this issue for public discourse.
I hope the leadership of the supervisors will encourage other local governments and businesses to do likewise. For example, in the medical industry alone, Community Memorial Hospital, St. John’s Pleasant Valley Hospital and Los Robles Regional Medical Center are all in the process of major construction/retrofit projects.
The idea of community resiliency is not new, but in the last several years there has been a renewed interest in understanding the factors that make one community more resilient than another when faced with an economic or natural disaster.
The work of the Building Resilient Regions at the Institute of Governmental Studies, UC Berkeley is a reminder that we may not be as resilient as we could be.
Their data on Ventura County can act as a starting point for public dialogue on what it means to be resilient and what we need to do to insure that our governments, businesses and citizens are more prepared, self-reliant and resilient as we face the future.
So you see, buying local, hiring local and planning for the future were the dots that connected for me. I hope now that I’ve brought them to your attention, they connect for you, too.
© 2011 Scripps Newspaper Group — Online