Formation of an Economic Development District

DATE: September 18, 2007
TO: Board of Supervisors
SUBJECT: FORMATION OF AN ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT DISTRICT

SUMMARY:
As part of the United States Department of Commerce, the Economic Development Administration (EDA) operates a number of grant programs in pursuit of its mission to generate and retain jobs, along with stimulating economic growth in distressed areas. In order to become eligible for grants that enhance economic development planning and infrastructure, a distressed region must be designated as an Economic Development District (EDD).  This Board Letter requests authorization to explore the feasibility of creating an EDD in the San Diego region in response to requests from local economic development councils in order to access federal resources.        

RECOMMENDATIONS
VICE CHAIRMAN GREG COX and SUPERVISOR DIANNE JACOB:

  1. Direct the Chief Administrative Officer to explore the feasibility of creating an Economic Development District and report back to the Board in 90 days.
  2. Direct the Chief Administrative Officer to work with organizations such as the South County Economic Development Council, East County Economic Development Council, and other interested organizations for their input on the creation of an EDD in the region.

Fiscal Impact:
These actions will result in the addition of no staff years and no future costs.

BACKGROUND:
The Economic Development Administration (EDA) is an agency in the United States Department of Commerce that provides grants to economically distressed regions to generate new employment, help retain existing jobs and stimulate industrial and commercial growth.  The EDA’s mission is to lead the federal economic development agenda by fostering entrepreneurship, innovation and productivity through investments in infrastructure, capacity building and business development in order to attract private capital investments to regions experiencing economic distress.
 
Areas identified as economically distressed are usually found to have a high rate of unemployment along with low levels of income.  Local economic development councils in both San Diego County and Imperial County have identified distressed areas that meet these characteristics and can use federal assistance to stimulate economic activity for the bi-county region.

To qualify for financial assistance through the EDA’s funding programs, an economically distressed region must first be designated as an Economic Development District (EDD) by a local jurisdiction.  San Diego and Imperial Counties are being approached by economic development councils desiring the creation of a San Diego County - Imperial County EDD.
    
This designation, upon approval by the State of California and the United States EDA, may potentially provide federal assistance to help pay the cost of economic development planning and administrative expenses in support of job creation and retention.   The objective of an EDD is to strengthen economic development planning capacity and establish a comprehensive economic development strategy designed to enhance the economic development opportunities of the region.
  
Exploring the feasibility of creating an EDD allows the Chief Administrative Officer to investigate the expectations, requirements, oversight, and regional qualifications that are involved with forming an Economic Development District as well as determining if the Board of Supervisors should support the formation of such a district in the San Diego County - Imperial County region.

In due course, today’s action will allow the Board of Supervisors to assess whether or not the creation of an EDD would benefit the County of San Diego.

Respectfully submitted,

GREG COX
Vice Chairman, First District

DIANNE JACOB
Supervisor, Second District