Chris Kaufman/Appeal-Democrat file photo

A consultant has been hired by the city of Yuba City to help design an economic development plan that could take advantage of area strengths such as tourism opportunities.

Yuba City officials recently contracted with an economic development firm out of Chico to work with council members and members of the Economic Development Commission to update its five-year strategic work plan.

Audrey Taylor, president and CEO of Chabin Concepts, met with officials during a special joint workshop on Sept. 18. She said they discussed where the city is currently positioned economically, while the next meeting will cover what projects or initiatives seem feasible to drive economic development in the city.

“When you look at Yuba City geographically, it makes sense that it has a joint economy because of the way the Yuba-Sutter area is positioned. Another thing you have to look at is the greater metro region, which is the whole six counties that surround the city, including Sacramento,” Taylor said. 

As Sacramento continues to evolve and emerge as a second-tier economy, the counties that surround it have an opportunity to capitalize on the economic development that comes along with it. Taylor said her goal is to help city officials tie the different pieces together to draw from that opportunity.

“It’s about Yuba City positioning itself as a submarket for what’s going on there, and to continue capturing that economic growth,” she said.

This isn’t the first time Taylor has been contracted with the city to lead workshops. She was first hired in 2008 to lead workshops and work with an advisory group to make recommendations to the council, which resulted in the hiring of an economic development manager and establishment of an Economic Development Commission. She’s been brought back twice since then to work with the commission on updating the work plan, as well as provide updated statistical data that can be utilized during discussions with developers, business owners and investors. 

“This information is also useful in applying for grants for infrastructure and housing, etc.,” said Terrel Locke, assistant to the city manager. 

Taylor’s economic development and marketing firm works with a wide variety of business and jurisdictions, including Merced, Benicia, Lake Havasu City, Solano, Morro Bay, Los Banos and Martinez, among others. When it comes to economic development, it’s not about competing interests among jurisdictions but about working together to capitalize on a region’s opportunities, she said.

“It’s about how you collaborate to grow the economy. It’s really important to understand where a particular economy is and what’s driving it,” she said. “In Yuba City’s case, you have a very diverse economy.” 

The city is paying $32,000 for the firm’s services. 

Opportunities for city

Taylor said the city’s economy is largely involved in the trading sector, with so many industries producing products that go out of the local market but bring money back, such as agriculture. She said Yuba City, as well as the Yuba-Sutter area as a whole, has tourism potential, which will grow opportunities regionally. She credited organizations like the lodging association, chamber of commerce and the Yuba-Sutter Economic Development Corporation for working toward increasing awareness of what this area’s tourism potential is for those that live outside the region. 

Many of the city’s newest businesses – Dutch Bros, Olive Garden, Habit Burger, etc. – are what she called “population driven,” meaning they are businesses residents want and help build vibrancy in the community. The next step is drawing industries that provide higher wages and more specialized positions. 

“You have certain businesses coming in because of demand, and the next step is to probably start looking at how to attract other innovative companies, manufacturers and ag technology. All of these industries tie to the larger region, and that’s what we want to do. It’s about leveraging these assets,” Taylor said. “I see lots of opportunities. As the city grows, there will be a demand for other services, or more high paying jobs. What you want in a dynamic community is to make sure you have a labor force that attracts those types of businesses. It all comes down to available labor force.”

Locke said the next Economic Development Commission’s next meeting will be on Oct. 28 at 6 p.m. in the City Council Chambers at City Hall. 

“As the five-year strategic plan is being developed, the commission and council will be able to determine where they would like economic development to go moving forward,” she said.

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