After a discussion including comments from several different sectors of the business community, Santa Clarita City Council members voted to renew a three-year commitment to support the Santa Clarita Valley Economic Development Corp.
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Representatives from a prominent law firm, mortgage brokers and other members of the business community praised the leadership of the group and urged council members to support the SCVEDC.
City Council members supported the recommendation to commit $600,000 to the organization, but with a performance proviso.
The organization was asking for $200,000 each year for the next three years, which would be a continuation of the same funding levels for the last three years.
City Councilman TimBen Boydston questioned the move, asking whether the investment was paying dividends.
“It is tax dollars, and it’s not a small amount,” Boydston said. “I want to see what jobs are created for that $200,000,” he said.
There were several metrics that could be used to gauge the success of the group, said Jonas Peterson, CEO of the SCVEDC.
Those who spoke in support of the group cited the fact that the SCVEDC has created more than 2,800 jobs in 2012.
Boydston said his contention was the fact that the original idea was for it to require less public money as the SCVEDC progressed, which hasn’t been the case, from the city’s perspective.
City Manager Ken Striplin said there hasn’t been a decreased need for public funding.
Peterson pointed to the fact that the group brings in $3 from the private sector for every $1 in public sector funding.
City Councilwoman Marsha McLean asked for wording attached to the funding that provides the City Council with annual updates on the SCVEDC’s progress.
“I would just like to add a performance provision,” McLean said, asking for the SCVEDC to provide City Council members with an update for the group’s progress.
Peterson also cited the organization’s ability to help the city retain jobs, which irked Boydston.
“The retention number is very frustrating to me,” Boydston said. “That just means we didn’t lose a job. That number could be anything you want it to be.”
All of the group’s statistics were independently verified, Peterson said.
“They’re never originated from within the group,” he said.
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