The Davis Economic Development Roundtable, which took place on Feb. 21, featured presentations by the Davis Cultural Arts Committee, the Davis Chamber of Commerce, the Davis Downtown Business Association (DDBA), Davis Roots, Designing a Sustainable and Innovative Davis Economy (DSIDE), UC Davis and the Yolo County Visitors Bureau.
Each group was given a few minutes to present their views about the current state of the Davis economy as well as their ideas for improvement.
While they articulated their individual concerns, the organizations all expressed an interest in fostering a healthy relationship with UC Davis, which Mayor Joe Krovoza called “the cornerstone economic engine in our community.”
Stewart Savage, director of the DDBA, said his presentation centered on carrying out the mission of the DDBA. He also discussed constraints on business and economic development downtown.
“I would like to take this opportunity to establish new relationships with the DDBA,” Savage said. “I want to build more and better relationships with on-campus organizations.”
John Meyer, vice chancellor of Administrative and Resource Management at the university, represented the broader university, stressing the importance of business recruitment in the Davis area.
“We have to figure out how to capture what we call the creative class, the 20 to 40-year-old graduates,” Meyer said. “We want to keep them around and give them jobs.”
Greg Herrington, director of development at the Yackzan Group, presented on behalf of DSIDE.
“We would like to see the city work with the university to attract larger innovation business,” Herrington said.
Both Meyer and Herrington expressed support for Davis Roots; a company founded by UC Davis professor of technology management Andrew Hargadon and Anthony Costello to promote the emergence of startups in Davis.
“What we’re really interested in doing is identifying those promising startups. We want to see more of these startups coming out and sinking their roots in Davis,” Hargadon said at the roundtable.
Herrington said Mori Seiki, a Japanese company that is building a manufacturing facility in Davis, is a big step in the right direction.
“California and the U.S. have not been doing well in the manufacturing sector. To have 150 plus jobs in Davis is a big deal,” Herrington said. “We competed with Chicago for those jobs. Because of the university and what Davis had to offer we won out.”
Herrington expressed that economically Davis is doing better than most in the surrounding region.
“It has its issues, every city in California does, but it needs to be competing for the jobs every other city is competing for,” Herrington said.
Downtown Davis is also doing better than others surrounding it, Meyer said .
“It probably needs more diversity, not just food and entertainment. We should try to grow the cultural arts in the downtown,” Meyer said. “That way it wouldn’t rely solely on the student community.”
Despite the concerns expressed, the groups also celebrated Davis’ accomplishments.
“We’re a college town, and people want to live here,” Meyer said. “We’ve got amenities that are huge compared to our city’s size. We’ve got to figure out how to work together to celebrate our assets.”
EINAT GILBOA can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org.