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Slow Growth In Tuolumne County

Sonora, CA– Results of a study to explain Tuolumne County’s slow growth rate have been released.


Population 2010 Working Group was organized by the Tuolumne County Chamber of Commerce President & CEO George Segarini to discuss the county’s 1.6 percent population increase during 2000 and 2010.


Segarini says the group consisted of a variety of individuals who met to explore reasons for the slow growth and to discuss possible solutions to increase the rate over the next ten years.


“Low growth numbers are not healthy for city and county government or local businesses,” said Segarini. “We need a healthy growth rate to sustain services citizens expect from their government including law enforcement, fire protection, road improvements and businesses need the potential for new customers to grow their revenue.”


According to study results, there were five major reasons for the slow population growth. They include:


1. Lack of businesses and industry support and diversification
2. Lack of competitive infrastructure
3. Lack of diverse demographics
4. Lack of affordability, quality and needs for specific housing
5. Perception of not being business friendly


Possible solutions to these obstacles include:


1. Lack of businesses and industry support and diversification


• Improvement in the housing market that will bring back construction jobs
• Continue recruiting for small industry
• Expand healthcare infrastructure
• Need more land zoned for commercial use
• County staff needs to facilitate, not negotiate (Development)
• Further streamlining of planning process
• More clear language on county rules and regulations
• Continue to support those organizations involved in economic development missions
• Support local business expansion
• That the community (including government) continue to support economic development partnerships in both political and monetary ways


2. Lack of competitive infrastructure


• Develop commercial and industrial sites where infrastructure exists
• Continue development of internet with fiber optics and high speed broadband
• Tuolumne Utilities District needs to expand water and sewer service and find means of financing
• Investment in infrastructure, i.e. roads
• Further utilize Columbia airport/shuttle
• Improve road access/Utilize prorated share
• Develop partnerships


3. Lack of diverse demographics


• Continue to grow services
• Pursue services that promote diversification
• Increase local medical market share that will create more healthcare jobs
• Develop a community place for young people, like a YMCA


4. Lack of affordability, quality and needs for specific housing


 • More choices and attractive pricing
• Incentive for more specific housing
• Need to make higher density work in county
• Rehab older homes
• Education and marketing to retirees branding Tuolumne County as a place to locate and promote low home prices


5. Perception of not being business friendly


• Celebrate our successes
• “How can we make this work”-Development philosophy
• Publicize positive changes
• Continue to improve government Customer Service
• Upfront disclosure for development projects


The Population 2010 Working Group consisted of 15 members. Some participants included Tuolumne County Administrative Officer Craig Pedro, District 5 Supervisor Dick Pland, Tuolumne County Superintendent of Schools Joe Silva, Economic Development Director Larry Cope, Sonora City Administrator Tim Miller and Tuolumne County Business Council Executive Director Ron Kopf.


Written by tina.falco@mlode.com