In April, the Employers Council of Mendocino County published their Fourth Annual Business Conditions Survey inviting "the business community" — 142 businesses to be precise — "to answer ten pre-prepared questions about business performance, hiring, hiring predictions, business climate and what can be done locally to support business and job creation.”
“For the first time during the four-year history of the survey, an overwhelming majority of business owners responded that local education could help support business and job creation. 78% said that creating new vocational education training opportunities in area high schools and community colleges is needed for supporting business and job creation. Seven in 10 business owners said that attention is needed to improve upon the quality of local education and local public schools. Poor education makes hiring capable workers a challenge.
“33% said they were not able to find workers and 28% said it took longer than anticipated to find and hire talent. Nine in 10 said that their business either improved profitably and/or sales stayed the same as the previous year. Almost half were optimistic that business activity in 2015 will be more profitable than 2014.
“When asked 'What can be done locally to support business and job creation?,' an overwhelming majority of business owners (78%) expressed the need for improving and simplifying the planning and permitting process.”
The Survey Results: "Improve and simplify planning and permitting processes (permit streamlining): 78% Create new vocational education training at high schools and community colleges: 78%. Reduce regulatory burden on business and industry: 72%. Improve upon the quality of education in local public schools: 70%. Address the issue of homelessness and transient populations: 67%. Recruit new businesses: 67% Support the promotion of Mendocino County (for tourism and our products): 66% Provide for public safety and law enforcement: 62%. Provide for fire protection and emergency medical services: 60%. Increase road maintenance efforts: 58%. Create water and sewer infrastructure for new housing and business growth: 45%. Offer government incentives to help business expand and grow: 43%. Expand upon public parks, trails, public open space and recreational opportunities: 33% Enforce state and federal mandated environmental regulations: 25%. Enforce local codes and regulations (code enforcement): 21%.”
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The most interesting aspect of this rather lame list of boilerplate complaints is what’s not on it. Although the Employers’ Council seems to think that local schools aren’t doing enough to prepare kids for the wonderful world of work, they don’t say what exactly should be done. They make no recommendations, they never show up at school board meetings, don’t itemize the nature or extent of the shortfall (Hello mathematics! Hello clear writing!) Nor do they say which “vocations” need attention.
And any time a business organization mentions “regulatory burden” you have to have a list of regulations that comprise the alleged “burden” before anyone will take you seriously.
“Address the issue of homelessness and transient populations”? How? The only realistic method we know of — a county farm for habitual offenders — is off the table and the Employers Council is certainly not going to pay for it themselves.
The biggest surprise is the absence of at least a pro forma tax complaint. Why? Because business taxes these days are so ridiculously low they don’t even rise to the level of a question on a survey designed by the tax haters themselves. (If the tax burden was on the questionnaire, you can be sure some of the usual no-tax yahoos would check it.) If taxes were anywhere near a reasonable level it's possible that some of the items the ECMC wants done could get done. But…
There’s absolutely no point to these “surveys” if all they ask is for “employers” to check off the usual Fox News-inspired snivels with no specifics and no follow-up. But here they are publishing them as if they have some value.