Our View: Eye on our economies
The rhetoric is anything but empty; it's filled with enthusiasm, and the optimism is catching (partly because we so want to be optimistic about the economy)
Government officials and leaders in the Yuba-Sutter area say the downward economic trend is reversing and the future could hold great things.
Of course there's the cautious part of "cautiously optimistic" to keep in mind. Some area merchants are still worried.
"The stores are full but they're not selling anything; there are no customers," Marysville merchant Ahmad Hamdan said recently.
Still another merchant, in the hobby shop business, said his store is now thriving.
But there is reason for caution concerning the reason why: "The bulk of our business goes out over the Internet — about 90 percent," said Robert McBratney Jr. "Things are good even though the economy is in a downturn because people are staying home and doing their hobbies."
That's all well and good, but we don't want everyone staying home. We want them to have the opportunity to work, build and participate in the marketplace.
Doing more in Yuba City
Yuba City officials say sales tax revenues are up, with 2011-12 revenues nearly back up to the $10.5 million level of five years ago. The city plans to complete $40 million in infrastructure repairs this year.
They say government grants and loans are fueling improvements they hope will bring more people to the region. The city just bought into a $200,000-plus tourism plan, hoping to draw people and their cash to the area to enjoy nearby rivers and lakes.
What's new? Maybe it's more a matter of just keeping on. Yuba City Councilman Tej Maan made an astute reply after a recent economic planning workshop in which city leaders sat around for the 10th year in a row and created story boards to refine the city's goals and visions.
Said Mayor John Buckland: "The fruits of this will come forward. It will give us some good, clear direction."
And Maan observed: "It's really difficult to come up with something new."
Perhaps they need to "do" more than "do something new" when it comes to the economy. We'll see.
Private growth in Yuba County
Across the river, Marysville is struggling as its sales tax revenues continue to bleed away. Admittedly those revenues have rebounded considerably since hitting a low of just over $1 million in 2009-10. But the $1.46 million in 2011-12 was still below the nearly $1.6 million in 2007-08 and came before a major auto dealership moved to Yuba City.
The dire economic situation is made worse by the fact the city's inertia over the years made it ineligible for grant funds that could have helped. That situation is being mitigated.
New city Administrator Walter Munchheimer says the city must find its vision to survive. He is trying to create investment opportunities by renovating a stale 35-year-old General Plan and creating five investment districts, positioning the city for an inflow of development and cash once investors start moving again. The effort, he points out, is "a community undertaking — not a city government undertaking."
And there lies the key to the whole economic recovery. As much as government tries, it cannot manufacture a recovery on its own. It requires the sweat and toil of the community, as well — folks who are willing and able to create opportunities for themselves and others.
"Jobs will solve 90 percent of our problems," says Andy Vasquez, a supervisor in Yuba County, itself struggling economically.
While government can continue to use tax dollars in the form of grants and loans to create temporary job opportunities, it will require the private sector — the community — to put solid ground under the economic recovery. We must not get so happy with what we see as economic recovery that we forget to work for and beyond recovery.
Two things: We're not really on track until we're really recovering on both sides of the river; we have a long way to go and need the cooperation of all of us to make a real rebound.