IB Patch will ask Imperial Beach City Council candidates one question a week until Election Day.
Don't forget: Californians have 10 days left to register to vote before Nov. 6 elections.
Last week's question:
It has been suggested by developers that IB's codes are restrictive and should be loosened in order to stimulate development in the city. Do you agree with the developer's assessment?
This week's question:
According to state data, in August 14.4 percent of Imperial Beachians were unemployed. That is lower than it was a year ago, but still the second highest rate in San Diego County, above county, state and national averages, and near double IB's rate of unemployment five years ago.
What can be done to help them? Should the city do something to help its unemployed citizens?
The city currently offers no services to help people find work, but are referred to the state's Employment Development Department (EDD). Government job listings are available at City Hall, said administrative assistant Ed Vea. Across the street, the library has job listings and computer services for job seekers.
There are many people out of work at this time and for many reasons. My first thought is what is the average job that the unemployed are coming from. Is there possibility to retrain and put into a new job? Are the unemployed taking advantage of all the programs that are available from the EDD for them?
Are we hiring from Imperial Beach for contracted jobs that being completed here in town? Does IB have incentives to the businesses that hire from the unemployed population of Imperial Beach? Are businesses taking advantage of EDD's incentives to business owners?
Currently there are two buildings being completed and road work that has been going on all summer. When the bids were made for the projects to be completed, did the city suggest hiring from the population of Imperial Beach and giving them an opportunity to work?
Imperial Beach is a small town and so there really are no companies doing major manufacturing. We have several restaurants and stores, but I am sure that the employers are still holding off hiring until the economy gets a little better.
I think maybe bring in a job fair to Imperial Beach and hire from within the city for projects that are being completed.
Have EDD come in and talk to businesses, the Imperial Beach Chamber of Commerce, and city officials to promote the incentives that are available. It is going to take a combination of business and the city to promote Imperial Beach as a place to live and work, but it is also the responsibility of each individual to promote him or herself as best they can during these difficult times.
I am sure the city and businesses have looked into most of these things, and hopefully the unemployment rate will go down through efforts made by everyone.
There are two things that can be done by the city that can help our unemployed:
- Encourage business to come into the city by making it easier for them to conduct business within Imperial Beach
- There is a new hotel that should be opening sometime soon that can have a “Local’s Job Fair.” Our neighbors should be the ones that have the first opportunity to have one of the positions.
The city can help by having quarterly job fairs, “Crash Course on Job Fairs” the day or two beforehand to include how to handle immediate “interviews” and make resume’s stand out, and services for the un- or under-employed seminars at someplace central–City Hall or the Sports Park–alongside with the EDD, government agencies, and other elected officials. There are many services available out there if the person is not afraid to ask. However, these services may not be easy to find.
I would also like to see the Girl Scouts or other local civic organizations take point for parents that need childcare during these seminars and fairs. Parents of young children cannot afford childcare while looking for a job, creating a hindrance for finding work. Have community service hours offered to those who volunteer to help actively watch these children. We need to work together for everyone’s best interest.
Finally, to my first point, have Imperial Beach be friendly for business to start up and succeed. Development is not the sole area of growth for the city; we need to look for long term business to come and plant roots here and have long term employment in Imperial Beach. Utilize the numerous “For Lease” buildings, and welcome business into them.
Either way, I want to help those who are unemployed and under-employed succeed, because with their success, all of the community succeeds.
Cities do not create jobs except for internal hiring to carry out their primary service functions and through supporting and approval of private job creating development and businesses. Policies encouraging local hire can be helpful, however, many jobs are not in ones own city but in neighboring areas.
A city could provide reference materials or online links to employement assistance resources, as well, but this is not a standard practice or core function of local governmental agencies.
Aside from retired persons, it is in the best interest of a city to have robust employement statistics because it will result in greater local spending. The flow of money through a local economy and the associated taxes generated helps achieve both sustainability and expansion of services.
Generally, employement follows trends of the national economy and the opportunities to affect meaningful impacts at the local level are limited. Good plannning, promotion and outreach to private financing and investment sources as well as finding new methods for public-private partnerships can also result in increased employment opportunities. The process takes time and must evolve independent of redevelopment, which was eliminated by the state. We are in a period of readjustment and that is never easy.
Completion of Pier South, our new Seacoast Drive hotel, and the Breakwater shopping center at 9th Street and Palm Avenue are a top priority.
Once completed, they will provide many job opportunities. Making sure these new businesses make a commitment to hire Imperial Beach residents, whenever possible, is essential. This means advertising locally and networking with local business, the city and employment resources to get the word out to our residents when new positions become available. Local jobs also provide an additional benefit to local employees as they reduce travel costs.
But many of our unemployed residents can’t wait, so what can the city do immediately to help? There are several programs available to not only help local residents, but also local businesses. Partnering with San Diego Workforce Partnership to promote on-the-job training grants to small businesses is a good example.
These grants would allow local businesses to add additional employees as the grants pay for half of the hourly wage during the training period, up to six months. This win-win helps local businesses expand their capacity while providing the skills and knowledge needed for employment of local residents in emerging career fields. Additionally, with a large concentration of the Imperial Beach population under 21, programs are available to provide eligible youth–those interested in furthering their education and career goals–with work experience and work readiness.
Imperial Beach, like most small coastal cities, is primarily a “bedroom community”.
Land available for developing industries that create high paying jobs is extremely limited. But having a well-trained and well-prepared workforce is key to reducing unemployment, regardless of job location. The City of Imperial Beach can assist by providing information on the many resources that are available and by partnering with organizations to host job fairs and job information events to ensure that residents are made aware of these opportunities.
Brian Pat Bilbray
Our unemployment rate is directly linked to the prosperity of our small businesses. Like the country and the state, if our small businesses are prospering, our community prospers. We need to make sure we take care of our business owners by reducing red tape and fees that make it difficult to do business in the city.
When businesses prosper, owners hire to keep up with demand. As your councilmember, I have had the honor of working closely with the Imperial Beach Chamber of Commerce to help the city become more business friendly, so that owners want to do business in our city.
We need to attract more investment in the city by creating public/private partnerships to motivate property owners to upgrade the existing buildings along Seacoast Drive and Palm Avenue.
This would create much needed construction jobs in the city, as well as increase sales tax revenue. Increased sales tax revenue would allow the city to hire more employees to provide much needed services that have been cut because of our shrinking budget.
Small business owners are the key to lowering our unemployment rate; we must become more business friendly so we can move Imperial Beach into the future and insure a prosperous life for all.