Economic Development Launches Three Year Strategic Workplan

July 5, 2017

The Economic Development Department has a broad reaching scope of priorities that require collaboration across City departments and have a lasting impact on the economic growth of the broader community. In an effort to monitor these priorities and key projects following the City Council’s strategic planning efforts and in support of the City’s General Plan 2030 Economic Goals, the Economic Development team developed a three-year Strategic Workplan, which the City Council approved in May 2017.

The Economic Development 2017-2019 Strategic Workplan touches on work conducted in all five divisions of the Department and is primarily focused on direct actions and initiatives that contribute to and support a vibrant growing economy. These divisions include the Economic Development Office; Housing and Community Development; Infrastructure and Development/Successor Agency; Asset Management; and, Public Art.  


Each division is responsible for implementing numerous policies and programs that range from business assistance to public art programs, leveraging funding to support the creation of affordable housing, developing broadband infrastructure policies, facilitating the leasing of commercial spaces on the wharf, and managing other City assets, to name just a few.  

Ed Strategies

Economic Development Strategies

The Economic Development Workplan lays the foundation for a three-year sustained economic development approach for economic growth and vitality for the Santa Cruz community. The Workplan is action-oriented and aligns with the City’s General Plan 2030 Economic Development (Chapter 6) goals and is designed to be flexible—responsive and adaptable to evolving opportunities. The document is organized with metrics to provide a platform for regular updates to City Council and the business community at large. 

The Workplan documents our current economic development efforts, programs, and incentives and outlines areas of proposed activity. The plan describes four key economic development strategies focused on sustaining future economic growth in our community.

1. Support the Creation and Expansion of Businesses and Jobs

The Economic Development Office is tasked with supporting the creation and expansion of businesses and jobs.  The Division’s capacity to do this work is supported by strong collaborative relationships with community partners and colleagues across departments at the City as well as by direct day-to-day connections made with businesses. 

These efforts can be categorized into the following tactical objectives: 

  • Improve communication of timelines and costs for various development processes and support the reduction of the costs of operating a business in Santa Cruz.
  • Increase assistance and awareness of the Economic Development Office's programs and services to nurture the success of businesses at every stage of development.
  • Identify opportunities and strengthen efforts to retain businesses and local talent.

2. Promote Economic and Cultural Vibrancy in Santa Cruz

The City has a distinctive brand that is recognizable around the world. Our efforts to promote economic and cultural vibrancy are focused on promoting Santa Cruz as the principal retail, cultural, recreational, restaurant, entertainment and commercial destination in the region.  The Economic Development Office works on promoting the Santa Cruz brand by capitalizing on the “Santa Cruz experience” as a community of trailblazers and artisans that attracts new businesses and visitors. 

These efforts can be categorized into the following tactical objectives: 

  • Support a vibrant downtown that can serve as a backdrop for commercial, cultural and creative activities including live music performances, visual arts exhibitions and special events.
  • Promote the Choose Santa Cruz brand within the City and externally.
  • Promote and enhance the role that arts and culture can play in driving community economic development.

3. Build the Infrastructure to Serve and Support our Economy 

The Department leverages grants, bond financing, and the Economic Development Trust Fund to close the gap on critical infrastructure and housing projects in the community.  The Department also continues to participate in statewide efforts to promote the development of financial tools to replace resources lost with the dissolution of redevelopment.

These efforts can be categorized into the following tactical objectives: 

  • Continue to invest in infrastructure revitalization.
  • Continue to help preserve and maintain the affordability levels of the City’s affordable housing and support the creation of new affordable and market rate housing in our community.

4. Actively Support Knowledge and Innovation

A key goal of the knowledge and innovation economy in Santa Cruz is to leverage the community’s quality of life advantages along with our educated labor force to extend the attractiveness of Santa Cruz as a place where companies in the knowledge and innovation sector will want to locate.  The knowledge and innovation sector is defined by industries that depend on expertise and ingenuity like bio-tech, genomics, information and computer technology, communications and social media.  The Department’s knowledge and innovation economy strategy can work to keep the local workforce in the community rather than commuting and having the capacity to absorb the educated labor force that Santa Cruz is able to produce. 

The key tactical objective for these efforts is to:

  • Leverage the multiplier effects of a strong knowledge and innovation sector.

Measuring Success

Finally, the Workplan provides metrics for each of the key economic development strategies including tactical objectives, specific actions and quantifiable measures to gauge our progress on an annual basis (See Appendix A in Attachment A for a complete list of associated objectives, actions, and metrics).  The Economic Development Department will measure progress on a quarterly and annual basis and will provide updates on key projects and program outcomes. These progress updates will be provided to the City Council and general public both in print form and electronically. 

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