Monday, March 17, 2008

Coming Back

“At one time we had 67 mills in Siskiyou County (CA—population 45,091) but today are down to only 2. In the early 1990s, we lost over 60% of the jobs in the county in just one year. All of my family had worked at International Paper for generations, but had to look for work in other places because of the change,” Josephine Wyatt, head of the Siskiyou Training and Employment Program, was explaining to me the major blow that hit her furthest northern most CA county.

That is a terrible blow to go through and while I don’t believe that Siskiyou County will ever fully recover (you never do—it is something that always stays within the subconscious of a community), they are making some valiant efforts. The county population is stable and they’ve got some good economic statistics. And, they’ve diversified their economic base well with lots of smaller employers.

Susan Molnoux, economist with the State Employment Service, related to the audience that 90% of the companies in the county have less than 20 employees and 62% have less than 4.

Nancy Swift head of the local ED efforts in entrepreneurship, JEDI (Jefferson Economic Development Initiative), assembled an impressive panel of her recent entrepreneurs. JEDI is now in its 10th year and has helped 485 new businesses to start in the county.

A new Enterprise Zone designation for the county could help to accelerate this growth in new jobs and businesses.

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