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Friday, April 23, 2021

Economic Recovery Initiative aims to repair local economy after pandemic, power plant closures

Posted By on Fri, Apr 23, 2021 at 4:04 PM

A group of local elected officials recently launched an initiative aimed at patching up the Central Coast’s post-pandemic economy, but the effort doesn’t appear to have much Republican support so far.

The Central Coast Economic Recovery Initiative is a set of policy concepts, program ideas, and proposals aimed at stimulating the local economy and creating jobs through housing, clean energy, and infrastructure investment, according to an April 14 press release announcing the program’s launch.

click to enlarge ROAD TO RECOVERY A group of progressive elected officials recently launched the Central Coast Economic Recovery Initiative, an effort to repair and stimulate the local economy post pandemic. - FILE PHOTO
  • FILE PHOTO
  • ROAD TO RECOVERY A group of progressive elected officials recently launched the Central Coast Economic Recovery Initiative, an effort to repair and stimulate the local economy post pandemic.
“With $85 million in federal relief funds coming to SLO County government agencies—and the potential for millions more earmarked for infrastructure improvements—now is the time to to work together to identify how we can invest in our community in a fiscally responsible way while also ensuring help goes to those who need it most,” Arroyo Grande City Councilmember Jimmy Paulding said in the release.

Paulding helped author the Economic Recovery Initiative and said the goal is to drive immediate decision making and meaningful action that will stimulate the local economy over the next two years. In short, he said it’s a place for local leaders and community members to hash out ways to stay economically stable after the COVID-19 pandemic and closures of both the Diablo Canyon Power Plant and the local Philips 66 refinery.

“How are we going to plan for all these things?” Paulding told New Times. “These are huge economic impacts.”

The group hopes to implement affordable housing strategies and pandemic relief programs, support clean energy investments, and modernize regional transportation, water, and broadband infrastructure. Cal Poly’s Institute for Climate Leadership and Resilience partnered with the Economic Recovery Initiative team to study the feasibility of its “more technical concepts” at low or no cost to local governments. Paulding hopes the initiative will tackle these economic challenges through in-depth research and using the talent, knowledge, and input of community members.

Economic Recovery Initiative authors also include SLO County 3rd District Supervisor Dawn Ortiz-Legg, Central Coast Community Energy Advisory Councilmember Bruce Severance, SLO Climate Coalition Chair Eric Veium, community organizer James Sofranko, and SLO City Councilmember Andy Pease. Like the initiative’s authors, its initial supporters are also local elected officials and leaders who lean left.

But Paulding said the program is still in its earliest stages.



“We’ve tried to structure this in a bipartisan manner,” Paulding said, “and that’s the goal, to get bipartisan support.” ∆

—Kasey Bubnash
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