Leadership Forward! A Plan for Prosperity 2020
My top priority as Mayor is to work with our business and labor leaders to balance the city’s budget, develop a plan to avoid insolvency and move towards resolving our pension debt crisis with a three-pronged approach that I successfully employed while a school board trustee:
- Explore refinancing existing city debt so that what we have borrowed does not cost so much.
- Assemble a budget stabilization committee composed of business, labor, residents, department heads and others to determine which programs could be scaled back and which services are essential and must stay funded at current levels.
- Explore generating new revenue, because we will not cut our way of this crisis, but we can grow our way out: not through taxes, but by attracting outside investment and fostering business growth. I would explore tax increment financing instruments such as an Enhanced Infrastructure Finance District (EIFD) and/or Community Revitalization Investment Authority (CRIA) which could add value to the city’s Opportunity Zone, making it more attractive to investors.
I’ve also developed a 10 point plan to take our economy forward:
- Job growth and economic development (and recovery). Riversiders should be able to LIVE where they work. We need to create jobs locally that keeps our workforce local. I will pursue the types of industries and high-wage employers that propel Riverside’s prosperity while ensuring the labor force is adequately trained to meet the demands of employers.
- Help small businesses and start-ups access capital. Work with city economic development and business sectors that would benefit from multiplier effects to provide or assist with capital investments for new businesses. Encourage investment in the city’s Innovation District and market the effort nationally and internationally. Provide micro-grans or loans for small start-ups.
- Create a dashboard showing critical, objective metrics that provide concise information about relevant factors like economic performance, well-being of the population, high school graduation rates, educational attainment rates and entrepreneurialism. Such metrics will be used to attract investment.
- Map our assets and tell a compelling story. Working with our partners at the Chambers of Commerce, universities, museums, non-profits, and innovative, creative community leaders to identify what makes our city and culture unique.
- Increase incentives such as reduced permitting and licensing fees, short-term breaks on utility costs, and public-private partnerships that result in shared income with adjustable terms over the life of the agreement.
- Encourage investment in industries like emissions research, cyber security and solar energy that can provide good jobs to brand our region as a green technology and innovation hub.
- Tap into the academic brain trust. Tap into the talent of our four universities and colleges (UCR, CBU. LSU, and RCC) and increasingly skilled labor pool. We can leverage that talent with our newly established Innovation District to attract new technology firms.
- Encourage more patent development and STEM-related business from university engineering programs. UCR alone contributes $287 million to the regional economy and $3 billion to the global economy. This resource has not been leveraged for its intellectual property. Studies show that regions with a high number of engineers lead to more patents which result in robust economies. Riverside has three universities with engineering programs and three business schools to help develop and keep talent local.
- Make workforce development a priority. Expand programs that train and upskill our workforce, creating a talent pipeline for business and industry. Connect community colleges and employers to provide in-demand technical training, certification, and professional development programs.
- Ensure our city is beautiful, clean and welcoming with high quality entertainment and recreation opportunities. I will invest in our parks, arts, and cultural offerings which is important to businesses that want an attractive and vibrant place to relocate.
Riverside is an incredible place to live, work and play. We deserve a leader with the vision and strategy to keep it that way, but flourish and prosper, too.