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Working together to improve economic vitality of our home, Stanislaus County
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The best news of the week was the September 9.7 percent unemployment rate that was just released by the U.S. Department of Labor for Stanislaus County.

It's good news, but we still have a long way to go. We won't be satisfied until every Stanislaus County resident who wants to work has a meaningful, living wage job.

But the trend is positive, and it does reflect an improving economy. On the unfortunate side, there were a couple of layoff announcements this past week. The Alliance Worknet staff is working hard to help those who were laid off find new jobs. In my career, one thing I have learned is that there will always be layoffs, even in the best of times. We regret them. We do our best to avoid them. But there will be bumps along the road. Fortunately, for those who were laid off, chances are much better in an improving economy for them to find new jobs within a reasonable time frame. We will do our best to ensure that happens. It also demonstrates how important it is for our staff to have a great relationship with each of our companies.

This past Wednesday, we took part in an event hosted by the Modesto Chamber of Commerce entitled "State of the Region." More than 350 business leaders, elected officials and key stakeholders in our regional economy gathered to hear the perspective of our elected officials in regard to economic development. Congressman Jeff Denham shared his thoughts on the topic. I was very impressed with his understanding and commitment to economic development. His staff has been a pleasure to work with.

We listened to a panel of state legislators, representing our county, who expressed their views about important topics such as transportation, workforce, and the regulatory climate in Sacramento. I was impressed with each of them: Senator Anthony Cannella, Senator Cathleen Galgiani, Assembymember Kristin Olsen and Assemblymember Adam Gray. They truly understand what it takes to create a strong local platform for economic growth.

We are fortunate in this county to have such bipartisan cooperation. It is unique and a great asset to help us move forward.

It was also my honor to make some remarks. I focused on two topics - what you reported through our local industry survey and some points made by Dennis Donovan, partner of WDG Consulting, in his remarks last week. Through our survey we have interviewed many base employers. Base employers are companies that bring new dollars into our county. They drive our local economy.

We are seeing definite patterns emerge. Our employers are concerned about many things, but specifically they are concerned about three main areas - a skilled workforce, better infrastructure (the condition of our streets and roads) and regulation. As an organization, and with our partners, we will need to address and improve these three areas. I look forward to working with the community in the future to address them.

Please take a look at my presentation, if you didn't have the chance to hear it. It really is your presentation because it reflects your concerns and hopes for a better business climate in our county.

Lastly, I had the opportunity to spend 17 years in the Renaissance City - Pittsburgh, Pa. Seeing that city turn around taught me what it takes to drive turnarounds in other cities. There are four key components.

First, we need to have a great attitude about our cities and county. Let's not apologize for Modesto, Turlock, Oakdale or any other place in our county.

Second, we need to have a clear vision of where we are going. That takes collaboration. Everyone needs to be at the table and own that vision.

Third, we need to have great leadership from both the public sector and private sector.

And fourth, that leadership needs to be aligned, equally yoked and going the same direction.