Some quiet conversations are taking place around Santa Cruz in light of this area's struggling economy. At issue is this area's underperforming retail trade: a huge amount of dollars are being spent out of the area, with serious results. A national retail consultant, Robert Gibbs of Michigan, has been studying Santa Cruz in recent weeks, and although his report is far from complete, local officials already are looking at some of his preliminary conclusions.
The main one: leakage. For anyone not familiar with the term, it comes down to this: huge numbers of dollars are leaving the area. People are buying goods and services outside of Santa Cruz County. . That means that retails dollars, prospective salaries and even sales tax revenue are leaking out of the Santa Cruz Area.
In a recent report, Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Bill Tysseling points out "there are a number of structural things we can do about this: (traffic) circulation patterns, signage, store recruitment, social issues downtown, seasonality in the Beach Area... ."
But there's a bigger piece: "What will it take for us to join together as a community to make things happen?"
He's talking about what it would take, politically, to attract new business. Economic growth makes some good things happen -- more jobs locally, better salaries and increased sales-tax revenues for cash-strapped local governments. Specifically, it means attracting the kind of retail development that will entice local people to spend their money here instead of going out of town.
For years, many in Santa Cruz have been suspicious of economic growth -- especially if it means any new development. But quietly, that mood might be changing. Younger folks in Santa Cruz are in need of jobs and decent housing, and they're tired of having to look outside the county to make ends meet.
It's hardly a surprise that the Chamber of Commerce wants to promote economic growth. But in light of some tough times and a cratering economy locally, don't be surprised if you see some younger folks take up the cause.
No-growthers have long dominated the public debate. That could change. Younger folks want jobs, better salaries and opportunity. That doesn't mean they want runaway growth. But they do want a healthy economy and you won't have that if people keep spending their money elsewhere.