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Regional Economic Summit recap: Spotlight on jobs, housing is key

Annual economic summit hosted by the Monterey Bay Economic Partnership highlights improving economy, challenges to job creation: housing, workforce development, collaboration
MBEP President Kate Roberts leads a panel on career building.
Residential permits issued in the Tri-County area.

There's good news to report on the regional economy, according to Beacon Economics founder Chris Thornberg, keynote speaker at the Monterey Bay Economic Partnership's (MBEP) Regional Economic Summit 2017 hosted early this month at the Cocoanut Grove in Santa Cruz. Agricultural production values, local spending and commercial construction are up in the tri-county region.

But jobs in the Monterey Bay Region are closely knitted to housing, as affordability, supply and quality have a direct impact on an employer's ability to attract and retain workers. So while Thornberg sees 2 percent to 2.5 percent economic growth ahead for 2017 even with a weak first quarter, for labor markets to remain tight as wages put pressure on profits, “frothy” financial markets with low interest rates, weak exports, a rise in business investment and for California's growth slow due to its housing shortage. See slides from Thornberg's presentation and others from the event here.

Thornberg also addressed what he called the “Trump Factor,” anticipating positive impacts on infrastructure investment, mortgage reform, government efficiency and trade negotiations. He sees the negatives in interest rates, federal deficit, personal liabilities, deregulation of Wall Street, foreign policy and health care. “Ugly” impacts include looming trade wars, immigration, the environment, entitlements and revenge from the Left.

Adequate affordable housing is essential to attracting and retaining a strong regional workforce. Employer-funded direct aid programs that help employees with down payments are already in place at some of the region's top employers, including Looker, the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Bay Federal Credit Union and Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula, and it's a practice others may look to as an incentive to attract and retain employees, said MBEP Housing Program Manager Matt Huerta. "There is no one answer," he said, but advocacy, awareness and funding are imperative. Multiple stakeholders will need to utilize a range of housing types, from family rentals to temporary farmworker, higher-density, moderate-, low-income and tiny houses, to meet the goal of 12,000 new homes by 2023.

Flexibility and creativity are crucial if employers want to attract strong management talent. Leading a roundtable discussion on "The Hiring Challenge," Plantronics Vice President of Talent Management & Organizational Development Marguerite Kunze said employers must look at such options as offering higher education opportunities, onsite childcare, remote work, employee assisted home-buying programs and aggressively promoting the region's lifestyle benefits.

Larae Lindsey, community engagement coordinator for the Bright Futures Education Partnership, stressed building connections in her roundtable on "Getting Job Ready!: Career Coach & Internships." Engaging businesses, enhancing career options for high school youth and leveraging MBEP's convening power are among her solutions to getting students workforce-ready.

The Summit hosted nearly 300 attendees, including San Benito County Business Council Executive Director Kristina Chavez Wyatt, Tanimura & Antle VP Legal & General Counsel Wesley Van Camp and Silicon Valley Leadership Group VP Tech & Innovation Peter Leroe-Muñoz who participated in a breakout session on Creating an Ag-Tech Ecosystem. The breakout session was facilitated by John Hartnett, CEO of SVG Partners, a founding agent of the Salinas Valley Ag Tech movement in the City of Salinas. Critical to the formation of an Ag-Tech ecosystem are a vision and strategic plan, building community leadership that are willing to “stand up and be counted,” developing relationships (forced interactions) with local agricultural and technology leaders leading to public/private/academic partnerships, building a culture of entrepreneurship and providing accelerators for their success (investment, business planning), collaborating with the local education system to build a skilled labor force and talent for the future all while building momentum and a local government system that serves the local community. According to Hartnett, all of the components must aligned and be championed because as Thomas Edison once said, “visualization without execution is just hallucination.”

In 2016, MBEP launched their housing initiative to support an increase in the supply of all housing in the Monterey Bay Region. The initiative starts with a broad, regional coalition of individuals and organizations to advocate for the construction of all types of housing. To encourage development, they’ve joined forces with Housing Trust Silicon Valley to create the Monterey Bay Housing Trust: a $10 million housing trust fund that will assist with financing affordable rental and ownership projects that require flexible and unique lending models. And, they went one step further to showcase and promote regional creativity by providing unique and inspiring examples of employer sponsored housing. Read more about the MBEP’s regional housing initiatives here.

Explore all of the data behind the discussions held at the summit here.

Review the summaries of the breakout sessions below or download here .

- Portions courtesy of Santa Cruz Sentinel, Beacon Economics

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San Benito County Business Council (Non Profit) (San Benito Coun...)

The San Benito County Business Council was formed in 2001 to facilitate intergovernmental cooperation, collaboration and consolidation, support, expand and enhance the community job base and promote community wellness and sustainability. It is the role of the San Benito County Business Council to create, develop, utilize and promote policies and practices that will provide outstanding pro-business legislative and local policy representation. The practice and implementation of these policies and practices enhance the private enterprise base by directly improving the economic climate essential for prosperous businesses, good jobs and the superior quality of life expected in our community. Our Core Objectives Include: • Promoting community wellness and sustainability • Supporting, expanding and enhancing the community job base • Facilitating intergovernmental cooperation, collaboration and consolidation • Encouraging government efficiencies, permit streamlining, public/private partnerships and privatization For more information, see:


This story, data and display have far too many problems.   The display problem is on the original websites (I checked), the tabs won't change in the affordable housing element - they are frozen on Monterey County.  A bunch of city data in Monterey County has been dumped. Carmel is there, but Salinas is not - that is called massaging the data.

When you scan on some of the horizontal bar charts the wrong data boxes comes up mixing two categories in the detail boxes, the data is obviously apples to oranges - an information technology job that pays $345 Industry Median Weekly Pay Comparison (2014) in Wilsonville cannot pay $1,750 in Scotts Valley, these are different jobs or totally different levels of work.

The categories are far too broad in several instances.

I hope we can do a lot better than that if we are trying to sell ourselves to a potential employer. let's at least look professional.

Marty Richman


San Benito County Business Council's picture
Submitted by San Benito County Business Council (Non Profit) (San Benito Coun...) on

Thank you for your comments, Marty.

In regards to your display problems, its unfortunate that you are experiencing issues where the tab selections on the graph do not work. This is the first time that we and the host organization, Monterey Bay Economic Partnership (MBEP) have received such feedback that graph selections are not working properly. Don't what System/device/browser you are using, so we're unable to offer any support specific to you. We say that on PC/Mac with stable versions of popular internet browses from Internet Explorer, Chrome, Safari or Mozilla, that all elements of the graphs are functioning properly.

City data has not been dumped from any of the graphics you are referring to. The city data for all Counties is available by clicking on the city name on the legend. By default, for Monterey County, several cities need to be clicked on in the legend to have the data show up on the graph. In an effort to not clutter the graphic with data from all 12 cities from MC at once, only a handful of MC Cities are activated at startup, but all data from cities on the legend can be easily be brought up by clicking on the city name and thus can be compared with the other cities available. This may not be intuitive right away and perhaps providing a note on top of the graphic saying that cities are selectable from the legend itself would be helpful for users. 

We have also yet to experience the display issues with the data boxes when scanning/hovering over graph elements. However, MBEP will disable these tool-tip popups as a precautionary measure to investigate if there are any deeper issues happening. However all the data presented on the graphic is correct. (continued below)

San Benito County Business Council's picture
Submitted by San Benito County Business Council (Non Profit) (San Benito Coun...) on

Exact figures come from the U.S. Census ACS Survey. The exact data can be found at|1600000US0683668. In that page, we can see that Watsonvile industry Median wage for the Information sector is $17,961/year or $345/week, while for Santa Cruz it is $91,000 or $1,750/week. The data is presented the same in the MBEP graphics. It needs to be repeated the the metric is Median wage and not Average wage, and while it is still hard to believe, but that's how it is and its one of the reasons they aim to display Regional data, to indeed show these kinds of stark differences in our region. We will be providing a direct link to the source in a note by our graphics may help address these types of skepticism in the future.

The categories presented in graphics are the same categories provided from the data sources, either the U.S. Census Bureau or the California Labor Market Employment Development Department. Both sources are very reputable and respected and if they provide macro categories like that, then there is no harm in displaying the same categories.

Hi, I am using Win 10, IE 11, all current .  On "Industry Mean Weekly Pay Comparison (2014)" horizontal bar chart the pop-up boxes as you drag across the data on at least the first three data sets have incorrect entries such as ":Professional  and Business Services" labels mixed in with the set for "Financial Activates" and so on, and the dollar figures are missing on at least four bars.

Thanks for the info that some MC city data was suppressed in the initial display, since it was not displayed I just assumed it was not there.  May I suggest an instruction such as, "Select the cities you wish to compare to display the hidden data" for dolts like me.

While I too use government data all the time, there are special difficulties with the ACS data for board categories such as "information."  There are now at least 12 occupations in that category covered by the census. A detailed explanation of them can be found at

Interesting paper from census, quoting - (my emphasis): 


"The evolution of IT occupation classifications indicates how diverse this job area has become. IT occupations no longer focus on simply the hardware and software of the machines, but also the infrastructure of networks and the development and maintenance of the Internet and World Wide Web (BLS, 2010) (see Table 1). Exploring the characteristics of these workers brings to light the varying duties, skillsets, and earnings of these occupations."

Most readers and politicians won't do that, they will take the data at face value.

Marty Richman

I went to "Housing Initiative"

Go down "Income Limits for the Monterey Bay Region" tab says "Monterey County" chart says "2015 Income Limits - Monterey County" - hit the tab for SBC or SCC and nothing changes, the cart is locked on MC.

Same problem for the next data chart "Industry Wages and Affordable Rent"  it could be my setup Win, 10 IE 11, but I cannot make it work, can you please check it?


Marty Richman

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