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Indybay Feature
Building a New Tech Based Economy
by Steve Pleich (spleich [at] gmail.com )
The Future is Technology Based
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With the recent narrow defeat of Measure F, the city's need for additional operating revenue remains dire. As most folks know, Santa Cruz generates its general funding income from traditional sources like sales tax, utility taxes and property taxes that are contributed through the county. In lean economic times such as the one we are currently experiencing, our city government does not collect enough general fund revenue to balance its budget and has to transfer funds from our cash reserves to maintain city services. There is little disagreement that this approach is fiscally unsustainable even in the short run. We need to build a stronger, more diverse economy if we are to provide the city services and programs our residents have every right as taxpayers to expect. I believe that the availability of city wide broadband access can be used as a platform to grow our local economy by encouraging technology development and entrepreneurship on a scale that can have a real and positive impact on our general fund revenue and local economy. To do this, we need to generate a financial model that incorporates several new elements which can form the underpinning of a new and more vibrant local economy. Here's what I suggest.

We need to foster strong and ongoing partnerships between local businesses and corporations, technology leaders and the University. We need to create incubator work spaces for young professionals to develop their business ideas and business platforms.

We need to actively work as a city to recruit and maintain the bright, young minds that pass through our University every year and we need to vigorously promote our city as a place where new and inventive ideas are encouraged to flourish and contribute of our local economy.

I believe this approach to building our local economy can provide the additional sources of revenue we need to fulfill the promise we have made to our residents to provide the highest level of services, the most effective programs and the very best in parks and open spaces programs. This is a model we need to create now, before another downturn in the economy forces us to. Together, we can build a economic future based upon diversity, strength and sustainability.
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