Santa Clarita Valley professionals gathered at the Valley Industry Association lunch Tuesday to hear a keynote address from SCV Economic Development Corporation’s (EDC) President and CEO Holly Schroeder.
“The best stories are the ones that tell the truth about the successes of those businesses in the valley,” Schroeder said.
While the EDC exists to attract, retain, expand, market and diversify Santa Clarita’s businesses, the business community will also have to find a balance between people, employment and space in Santa Clarita Valley’s future, she said.
“We need to continue to preserve this as we move forward and have the right kind of growth,” she said. “We’re thrilled that all of these community members care as much as we do.”
Currently, the valley is experiencing a record height of 90,000 jobs, Schroeder said. Additionally, she said 70 percent of new jobs added last year were in high income industries.
Schroeder emphasized the diversity of types of jobs in the valley, ranging from construction and manufacturing to administration and government positions.
This diversity is reflected in the businesses with the greatest number of employees in the valley, which include Six Flags Magic Mountain, Princess Cruises, Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital, Quest Diagnostics, Boston Scientific, Master’s University, Woodward HRT, Aerospace Dynamics, Advanced Bionic and California Institute of the Arts.
“Part of why the Economic Development Corporation was formed was to diversify that job base,” she said. “We’re not weighted in one sector.”
This is helpful in cases of economic downturn in particular sectors because the entirety of the community will not suffer, according to Schroeder.
Santa Clarita Valley has a large working population of 25 to 65 year olds and one of the fastest growing populations in Southern California, she said. There is a high retention rate of workers, as the population continues to grow, longtime residents live longer and youths grow up and join the workforce, Schroeder added.
The area also has a high number of educated employees, where over one-third of the working population has a four year college degree. Additionally, over 30 percent of households make above $125,000 a year.
Schroeder said in light of these statistics, it will be important to put more focus on attracting millennials and Generation Z to the workforce in the coming years.
“How do we make sure we are an attractive location for those young adults?” she said. “Our young adults can find employment opportunities while simultaneously helping employers find talent.”
Moving forward, Schroeder said Santa Clarita Valley will aim to be a technology innovation hub.
During her presentation, Schroeder coined the term “community tech” in reference to the group of technologies that relate to how people live, which include mobility regarding vehicles and commuting, space in work environments, the Internet and ways to utilize it in the community, statewide efficient clean energy and new elements of the economy.
“Give these companies the opportunities to deploy these technologies,” she said. “The companies who are creating those are going to want to partner with us as we look at the growth of the valley.”
These new technologies will make the “war for talent” more competitive in looking for the best employees and make SCV more attractive to highly-qualified workers, she said.
“Some of the technologies we will be using haven’t even been invented yet and all of this gets me giddy,” Schroeder said. “This is shaping the way businesses serve you in a way that is desirable.”
Schroeder said one of SCV’s advantages in attracting new companies is the vast amount of space, including Whittaker Bermite and areas off of the 126 freeway. She advises businesses to build from the ground up and focus on job-rich projects.
“The differentiating factor that we have in the Santa Clarita Valley is that we are still growing and we have the opportunity to grow,” she said. “We can be the example of growing in a responsible way. It’s going to take focus and attention and deliberate effort.”
VIA Chairman Ed Masterson said having conversations like the one Schroeder presented is a good way to move Santa Clarita Valley businesses in the right direction.
“The fact that they are thinking about things like this makes EDC such a valuable business organization in town,” Masterson said.
In an effort to attract the young adult work force, EDC will be launching a new internship site, scvinternships.com, next month.
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