Economic Development Corporation of Oxnard Industrial Forum

By George Miller

EDCOLogo

EDCO hosts industrial firms, explains services; city officials field questions/complaints

EDCO (Economic Development Corporation of Oxnard) held an Industrial Forum on Monday evening 4-6-15, with about 120 people in attendance, from dozens of companies, supporting firms and government officials. EDCO is a 20 year old private/public corporation tasked with helping to attract, retain and support industry in Oxnard. The stated forum purposes were to explain what EDCO is, what it’s doing and how it can help area businesses. Also, a panel of Oxnard officials fielded questions and listened to complaints. EDCO works closely with  OPIA (Oxnard Plain Industrial Association), an organization of local industrial companies, which it founded. A significant initial portion of the meeting was devoted to informal group networking, which seemed to be time well-spent.

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Oxnard City staff panel at EDCO/OPIA Industrial Forum- 4-6-15, Kitchen Restaurant, Oxnard. (Photo: CitizensJournal.us)

The City brought in their “heavy artillery” in the form of 11 city staff officials on a panel consisting of: City Manager Greg Nyhoff, Development Services Director Matt Winegar, Planning Manager Ashley Golden, Development Services Manager Rob Roshanian, Fire Chief James Williams, Senior Fire Environmental Specialist Greg Abille, Police Chief Jeri Williams, Senior Code Compliance Officer Roger Brooks, Treasury Supervisor Tammy OPIAGutierrez, Interim Utilities Director Dan Rydberg, and  Interim Redevelopment Services Manager Kymberly Horner. There were other staffers in the audience.

Also in attendance were City Councilman Bryan MacDonald and Mayor Pro Tem Carmen Ramirez, who had to leave early for an emergency.

The proceedings

Some panelists made some brief statements. City Manager Greg Nyhoff led off by stating that the City is firmly committed to improving services and support to the business community, that said services are admittedly suboptimal, that the City will listen carefully and make improvements. He stated that the city is in transformation and that economic development needs to be enhanced. Mr. Nyhoff plans to submit financial support for EDCO in the budgeting process (due in June). He stated that it could take a year and a half to work through these issues and resolve most and that they still needed to develop a plan.  The overall impression we received is that they were apologetic, admittedly deficient, vowed to improve and that the presentation wasn’t well-organized. 

This was in marked contrast to a Planning Dept. presentation given at the City Council meeting the very next evening. Development Director Matt Winegar and Planning Manager Ashley Golden presented an excellent proposal, already partially implemented. Too bad that more of this wasn’t presented at the EDCO forum. It was touched on only briefly. It would directly address many business concerns related to permitting and licensing. In summary:

It appears that the city has FINALLY discovered “World Class” customer service principles and has embraced them, with the encouragement of City Manager Greg Nyhoff and A very supportive City Council.

It involves setting up a “concierge” system (Rob Roshanian will be the point man- 805-385-7896) to help walk businesses through the process, set up a written plan of activities, required steps, approvals, fees and a timetable, streamline the application and permitting processes. You can see a summary of this in the 4-7-15 Council agenda. There will be a future look at fees to be more competitive, more automation and on line access to applications, regulations, approvals, FAQs’, maps, project lists, and reduction of required signatures, to reduce the runaround. They now accept Visa/Mastercard and have co-located code compliance and the service center to further improve service and communications. Streamlined temporary use permits (TUP’s), Zone Clearance (ZNCL) and business tax certificates. Treasury- business taxes online records, automated reports, improved enforcement. tenant improvement permits, simplified solar permit. Read 4-7-15 City Council Report Summary on One Stop Permit Center.

 A Q&A session followed.

CallahanElizabeth

Elizabeth Callahan

EDCO cited by business people

The most hopeful thing we heard: several business people present mentioned that EDCO had been helpful to them in solving problems. This has also been mentioned by multiple other business people and officials we talked to separately. We have seen more than one such example at City Council meetings. For Example, EDCO recently helped Puretec to secure millions of dollars of tax-free bond refinancing. President Elizabeth Callahan literally walked it through city departments and the City Council meeting where approval was secured. Ms. Callahan can be reached at 805-377-0329 or [email protected].  http://www.edco.us/

 Chad Guy, Business Coordinator and Jennifer Foytek, Administrative Services Coordinator & Filming Advisor, are the other two staffers at EDCO- 805-385-7444.

 

Horror stories

BowlusBusinesswoman Helena Mitchell relocated Bowlus Road Chief here from Canada and recalled at the Forum that it had been “incredibly difficult” to deal with the City. She questioned whether they had made the right decision to relocate here.  EDCO was of some help.  She said if not for Elizabeth/EDCO, maybe she wouldn’t still be here.  She joked that maybe the problem was that she spoke Canadian. It took four man-months longer than they planned and a six-month delay in getting the business going in Oxnard. Mr. Nyhoff observed wryly that even coming from another state (he’s from Colorado) to California is like coming to another country, with different laws and culture. She further observed that “it was like playing snakes and ladders,” being forced to almost go back to the beginning and start again multiple times. Police costs were “very expensive,” as well as Fire Department and Planning Dept. fees.

Another businessman, Brad Bajvovec, described his extreme difficulty in expanding his parking area by 6500 square feet, which he humorously described as his “ADA helipad parking spot.” It seems that the American Disabilities Act requirements were interpreted as permitting no more than a two degree variance from an absolutely level parking lot. Because of the geometry of the site, this was quite difficult and expensive to attain and may have created worse safety hazards in its execution. The permits alone cost $21,000. It was pointed out that California requirements are even more rigorous than federal ones and that there is an appeal process.

ScoscheLogoScotia Alves of high tech consumer electronics company Scosche urged City officials to pressure legislators on “hostile legislation.” She said that (local state Assemblyman) “Das Williams has voted for every job killing bill” and that “our Congresswoman is rated last in congressional surveys” which she said might be “a badge of honor for people from Santa Monica.” She got by far the biggest round of applause of the evening, which might suggest that others feel the same way.

Someone asked if the City would outsource some of Planning and other services. Mr. Nyhoff said he would consider it but also use that possibility as a challenge for his staff to match or better and prove that Oxnard can be as efficient as the private sector.

KanaloaLogoKanaloa Seafood market owner said the city provided inappropriate porous waste containers which create a sanitary problem of wet, organic waste leakage, so he requested assistance.

An agricultural testing lab representative (Jesse Calveo?) at the Forum lamented “two very painful, expensive years and $3 million” to get their facilities up and running in Oxnard. He said that training is also an issue and he could use some help. Ms. Callahan suggested Oxnard College for customized training, since she didn’t think their standard curriculum would deal with it.

Some horror stories are not due to dealing with Oxnard, but with county, state or federal regulations. EDCO can also help with these, as can competent architects, contractors and service providers.

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About 120 people in all were at the EDCO/OPIA Industrial Forum on 4-6-15. (Photo: CitizensJournal.us)

 Other

Attendees were encouraged to join OPIA and avail themselves of EDCO services. EDCO is partially supported by Oxnard, but needs to earn most of its own keep.

A recent $6.15 million settlement will be utilized for downtown development, plan to be developed.

The City Redevelopment Successor agency Interim Director Kymberly Horner said that they are tied up in dissolution activities, since the state legislature saw fit to dismantle the whole system.  So, for the time being at least, they aren’t able to focus as much on actual business development as needed and desired. She would like to attract/recruit retailers to fill some of those vacant downtown city-owned locations. She said she is very positive about the EDCO/City relationship.

Police Chief Jeri Williams briefly touched upon the gang injunction and aggressive graffiti removal program.

In passing, Ms. Callahan mentioned the proposed business “incubator” for probiotic/nutraceutical companies. A federal grant was sought and applied for to help finance this.

Mr. Nyhoff requested businesses to copy him on correspondence with City staff.

 

KitchenTheRestaurantThe meeting location Kitchen Restaurant’s food and facilities were pretty good, but the room set-up was poor for televising, with glare from the windows and a dark room not conducive to good lighting for video recording by KADYTV, which recorded the formal presentation and Q&A section. But sound was pretty good, as follows:

KADYTV2

4-6-15 EDCO/OPIA Forum

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Watch for an upcoming feature article on EDCO.

Previous articles:

Oxnard Industrial Business Forum Monday, April 6

Oxnard Industrial Business Forum Monday, April 6

EDCO (Economic Development Corporation of Oxnard and OPIA (Oxnard Plain Industrial Association) are presenting a forum to help local industrial concerns learn how they can better avail themselves of resources to help grow and prosper their businesses in Oxnard. There is still space for the upcoming event- call ASAP and RSVP if interested!

Oxnard City Council: budget priorities, Seniors Commission, $16MM Dev. Agency payout, Cultural Arts and Measure O Commission appointments and more

Oxnard City Council: budget priorities, Seniors Commission, $16MM Dev. Agency payout, Cultural Arts and Measure O Commission appointments and more

By George Miller The Oxnard City Council honored Joanna Gentry, accepted reports on: EDCO on business development (see separate article next week), Metrolink disaster report (see other article), Senior Commission, Development agency wind-down, made appointments to the Cultural Arts and Measure O Oversight committees and approved $16 million semi-annual payout for Develpmental agency wind-down. Name Date Duration Agenda Minutes […]

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George Miller is Publisher of Citizensjournal.us and a “retired” operations management consultant, active in civic affairs, living in Oxnard.

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