Calaveras County is hoping to get down to business on economic growth with a study session Tuesday, March 26, at the Board of Supervisors chambers in San Andreas, 891 Mountain Ranch Road.

The session is open to anyone who has concerns or ideas to share regarding economic development in the county.

The forum is largely spearheaded by District 1 Supervisor Cliff Edson. At a previous Board of Supervisors meeting, Edson’s request to hold the study session received unanimous approval to move forward.

“The idea is really to try to get the public involved along with the Chamber of Commerce’s economic development committee and to come up with some ideas on what we can do to try and attract businesses to the county, but also to see how we can help existing businesses,” said Edson.

After operating his own San Andreas restaurant for seven years, Country Cliff’s, Edson said that the business climate in the county is not straightforward and that new businesses might be more willing to locate within Calaveras if told what to expect beforehand.

“Maybe there’s something we can do to publicize that sometimes a business needs to go through a break-in period, just like anything. People need to know what they’re facing,” Edson said.

The study session will be held in conjunction with the county Chamber of Commerce’s new “Welcome Home” marketing program, which chamber Executive Director Diane Gray described as a method of positive promotion for Calaveras County.

Prominent “Welcome Home” signs will be placed next to already established ore cart displays at various county entrances. The signs will direct visitors to the chamber’s website where they – and their prospective businesses – can learn more about the different communities within Calaveras County.

“We’re taking a really fundamental approach,” said Gray. “We have great schools, small, relatively crime-free communities. We want to get the message across that Calaveras County has the perfect lifestyle to attract families.”

Gray also noted the chamber will be working more intensively with county government departments – Public Works, Planning and Building to name a few – on ways to “pull the boat in the same direction” regarding how to approach individuals who walk in the door looking to start a business.

The chamber will also be offering what it describes as “relocation assistance” to potential future residents and businesses. Debuting sometime in mid-March, a new website, sponsored by the chamber and funded through a grant from PG&E, will help facilitate individual property information queries.

“The new website breaks down the county’s nine main communities. You can run the mouse over Valley Springs, for example, and all the available properties will be shown along with other information, like who the phone carrier is, whether there’s broadband and the contact information for the realtor or owner,” said Gray.

Individual community representatives are also in the process of being selected so someone who might have an interest in a property in Arnold can be put in touch with a resident who “knows more about that particular community than we do,” Gray continued.

In addition to updating and providing a new wealth of information about Calaveras, both Edson and Gray discussed implementing an active outreach process in which members of the economic development committee contact “the Googles of the world” and let them know about potential beneficial business opportunities within the county.

“It’s sort of a, ‘What can we do to get you guys to pay attention to us?’” said Edson. “And maybe there are folks out there with better ideas but don’t necessarily get the opportunity to come forward to talk about this kind of stuff, but now’s the chance. Everybody has a great idea. Bring it forward.”

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