By John Crowder
On Friday, October 20, representatives of four cities and the County came together to discuss economic development for the East County region. The annual EC2 (EC Squared, which stands for East County Economic Collaborative) Summit, the brainchild of the Antioch Chamber of Commerce, is designed to promote job growth and economic opportunity in the region. The event was held at the Antioch Community Center.
Moderated by Antioch Mayor Sean Wright, attendees heard from representatives from each of four cities; Antioch, Pittsburg, Brentwood, and Oakley, as well as a representative from the Contra Costa County Transportation Agency.
Presenters from each city highlighted resources and programs that are designed to stimulate economic activity. Antioch’s presentation focused on the development of the waterfront, light industrial space, and the upcoming BART extension to the city.
The City of Pittsburg presentation highlighted a desire to move beyond heavy industry by shifting focus to manufacturing and their involvement in the Bay Area Manufacturing Initiative. Also mentioned were marketing initiatives for the City, including the use of social media.
Oakley’s talk discussed how residential development is driving growth. According to their presentation, they have over 5000 entitled residential lots, along with over 300 acres of industrial zoned land. Emphasizing that as a city they are, “development friendly,” they noted a reduction in commercial impact fees of 40% and a streamlined project approval process.
The City of Brentwood touted their Economic Development Action Plan. Some of their “game changers” include a business development center, full scale hospital, a Next Generation Technology Business Park, and a Farm to Fork program.
Contra Costa Transportation Authority Executive Director Randy Iwasaki discussed the East Bay as a “Corridor of Opportunity,” with a broad overview of how voter approved transportation initiative funds are being used. The projects he mentioned included work on Highway 4, BART expansion to Antioch, and the Highway 160/Highway 4 Connector Ramps. He also discussed future projects under consideration.
Antioch Mayor Sean Wright commented on the event, saying, “It was awesome to see all four cities and the County coming together to discuss strategies and work being done to bring jobs to East Contra Costa County. Too many of our residents are spending too much of their lives commuting and we must double our efforts to bring those good paying jobs here to our region.”
His sentiments were echoed by Richard Pagano, CEO of the Antioch Chamber of Commerce. He said the important question is, “How do we work regionally to bring jobs to the entire area? A job in Antioch helps Oakley, and vice-versa. That’s the paradigm shift we’re trying to effect.”
The television broadcast of EC2 can be seen on the following channels in November: CCTV – Wednesday November 15 at 12 pm and Delta TV – Thursday November 16 at 10 am.