About 90 people attended the Prosperity Economic Development Forum on March 22 at the River Lodge in Fortuna. the event included 10 minute presentations from representatives of communities across Humboldt County, giving an overview of economic challenges, opportunities and projects.
The event opened with an introduction by Sue Long, Mayor of Fortuna, followed by an overview of the workforce landscape presented by Randall Weaver, Labor Consultant from the Employment Development Department. The rest of the day was formatted to hear from individuals organized in groups including: Community Updates, which included presenters from Rio Dell, Ferndale, Garberville (and Southern Humboldt), Blue Lake, McKinleyville and Humboldt County; Tribal Community Updates from the Bear River Band of the Rohnerville Rancheria, Blue Lake Rancheria, Hoopa Valley Tribe and Yurok Tribe; Humboldt County; Larger Community Updates, including Arcata, Eureka and Fortuna; and Infrastructure updates from the Airports, Humboldt Bay Harbor, CalTrans and Redwood Coast Energy Authority.
Topic included new businesses, cannabis and workforce issues such as:
- The Board of Supervisors voted to move forward with the creation of a separate Aviation Department and create a new airport director position. The goal is to make the airport a revenue generating department.
- The City of Ferndale focuses on creating ways to allow their community to easily make their homes fit into their historic look as a way to increase tourism and business.
- The Blue Lake Rancheria has reduced Green House Gas Emissions by approximately 40% from a 2014 baseline, and wants to be carbon neutral by 2030.
- The Bear River Band of Rohnerville Rancheria is building a recreation center with a swimming pool that will be suitable for swimming competitions.
- Hoopa Valley is progressing on a new grocery store.
- The City of Eureka is changing their zoning code as a way to help make Eureka a more business friendly community.
- The City of Arcata, a long time leader in manufacturing, is seeing their market share in the area spreading more evenly through the County, but they continue to remain strong in that area and are constantly looking for ways to be proactive about opportunities in the future.
- While Southern Humboldt struggles with the economic impacts of being an unincorporated community without funding for issues that have developed from a drop in income due to the regulation of cannabis farmers, cities like Rio Dell, Eureka and Arcata are looking into fostering new businesses within the industry including retail, manufacturing and testing.
"The Economic Development Forum was a remarkable gathering of new voices, sharing new ways of thinking and information I hadn't heard before," said Erin Dunn, Executive Director of the Fortuna Chamber of Commerce.
The event was presented by the Prosperity Network and sponsored by AEDC, Redwood Region Economic Development Commission and the County of Humboldt Workforce Development Board. Committee members who planned teh event were: Susan Seaman, AEDC; Delo Freitas, City of Eureka Development Services Department; Rachel Callahan, College of the Redwoods; Allison Tans, County of Humboldt Economic Development Department; Leila Roberts, North Coast Small Business Development Center; and Randall Weaver, Employment Development Department.