Business / Economy

Farmhouse Communications earns accolades

Hollister-based company and regional planning team win second planning award, accolades for community engagement

The work of Hollister-based Farmhouse Communications, a team of local consultants and the City of Salinas have been lauded once again, this time by the Association of Environmental Professionals (AEP) for the development of the City of Salinas Economic Development Element — an economic development strategy to achieve a united and sustained economic prosperity for Salinas, according to a press release.

Here are further details of the recognition, from the release:

During the association's annual conference held in San Diego earlier this month, the Element received an Outstanding Award in the planning document category. The Element was prepared for the City of Salinas by the Community of Salinas, Building Healthy Communities, SPARC (Salinas Planning and Research Corporation), COPA (Communities Organized for Relational Power in Action), EMC Planning Group, Applied Development Economics, Economic and Planning Systems, Farmhouse Communications and City Design Collective. The project was managed by Doug Yount of Applied Development Economics. The Element was also honored in 2015 with an Award of Excellence from the American Planning Association.

Over the last two years, the City of Salinas has embarked on a significant strategic effort to prepare a long-term prosperity strategy and policy document, known as the Economic Development Element or EDE. The purpose of this document is to set a policy framework for future updates to the City’s General Plan based on economic development priorities and to provide immediate guidance in the implementation of priority economic development strategies, programs and projects. Key strategic foci include the enhancement of jobs, safety and health of the community. An innovative, inclusive and comprehensive public participation helped literally draft the EDE from the beginning analyses to the final, 5-year action plan. Key co-sponsors included community partners Building Healthy Communities and SPARC.

The Element highlights extensive coordination of urban economic needs, environmental constraints analysis, sustainable objectives, community outreach and involvement. The outreach program, largely designed and executed by Farmhouse Communications has changed the way the City conducts its planning and decision making processes. Trust has been engendered through taking the public process “to the people,” resulting in the inclusion of Latino citizens who make up 75 percent of the City’s population. This addresses the “Social Equity” leg of the 3 E’s of the sustainability stool. The EDE unifies and aligns the City planning processes within one framework. The EDE targets new investment and development capacity away from the most productive agricultural soils to the extent possible and includes policy that requires agricultural conservation easements to limit urban expansion into areas of the most productive soils.

Uniquely, the EDE also includes strategies to improve quality of life, through improved safety, jobs and health. Improved quality of life is seen as a fundamental component of improving prosperity and attracting investment in and around Salinas for the next 30 years. The AEP jury found the EDE to be, “Outstanding!” and “an excellent blueprint for sustainable development within a challenged economic area.”

The City of Salinas Economic Development Element can be found online at http://www.ci.salinas.ca.us/news.cfm#EDE. 

Farmhouse Communications, led by president/owner Kristina Chavez Wyatt, is currently engaged by the Economic Development Corporation of San Benito County to assist in the development of a comprehensive, countywide economic development strategy, by the San Benito County Workforce Development Board for rapid response, layoff aversion services and by the San Benito County Business Council as a contracted executive director. 

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BenitoLink Staff