County seeks to drive up economic growth

During the Board of Supervisor's June 25 meeting, the Board was formally introduced to the new team members of the Tulare County Resource Management Agency's Economic Development team. (Photo courtesy of the Tulare County RMA)

Board of Supervisors approve Resource Management Agency’s economic development program to boosts business growth, tourism and local attractions in Tulare County

TULARE COUNTY – The Board of Supervisors recently gave the stamp of approval on some new programs from the Tulare County Resource Management Agency (RMA), which is expanding to usher in more business growth, tourism and local attractions in the county.

Approved on June 25, the programs are the Business Opportunities, Tourism and Film Commission programs from the county’s Economic Development offices (EDO). These programs aim to expand the county’s business services by providing more marketing/business services to various agencies in the county, according to a presentation by RMA Associate Director Michael Washam.

“We’re very proud of the programs that we’ve started,” Washam said to the board as he explained all the ins-and-outs of the programs.

According to the staff report, the EDOs work closely with other county departments to provide assistance to developers, existing businesses and draw attention to prospective development opportunities, such as available real estate opportunities or vacant buildings. The department was once operated by Washam alone, but now has three new staff members to help call attention to business, events and development opportunities, as well as help more people get the permits they need to do these services for themselves.

Washam showed the supervisors some of the ways the programs work, which is mainly with promotional videos and marketing materials the EDO created for the county and local business. He explained that the Business Opportunities program has a good reputation for having many opportunities since the RMA expedites zoning and permits so quickly. This makes it easier for new businesses to get started. Tourism has also greatly increased thanks to the EDO, according to Washam.

“On tourism in Tulare County, we’ve really fully recovered and surpassed…our pre-pandemic levels, which supports over 6,000 full time equivalent jobs,” Washam said. “The travel industry continues to be an essential part of Tulare County’s economic development and workforce.” 

He then went on to explain some of the different projects made by the Film Commission, which does more than just promoting and permitting for the county. He said the program supports the creation of these films through helping agencies, departments and local cities complete their projects. This can include finding filming locations, getting film permits and coordinating resources for filmmakers.

According to Washam, the projects themselves are much more diverse than just filming movies. They include everything from movies, television shows, commercials, music videos, still photography for print, the web, backgrounds for video games, advertisements and more.

Washam also noted each of the programs has its own QR code that is used on promotional materials for each of their projects, which then links back to the RMA website for more information about it.

According to the presentation, the RMA aims for these programs to boost business growth, local attractions and retain existing customers by offering reviews and feedback on development proposals, addressing the needs of current businesses. This helps showcase Tulare County as an ideal place to live, work and play.

At the meeting, Washam also took time to introduce the new staff brought on to expand the program including Alida Verduzco Silva, economic development manager; Javier Cisnersos, economic development analyst; and Lacey Patrick the media specialist.

The EDO was established within the Economic Development and Planning Branch of the RMA in 2012. According to the staff reports, the EDO has achieved measurable growth in the following industry sectors: agribusiness, renewable energy, healthcare, retail, commercial and industrial.

After the presentation, the Board of Supervisors expressed how impressed with the programs they were. Supervisor Amy Shuklian noted the county and cities used to compete with one another in economic development, and said it is refreshing to see cities now collaborating with the county.

“This was a great presentation…What I am seeing now is it’s a regional effort and everybody coming together and working with one another,” Shuklian said.

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