Economic Strategy


Project Overview

The Economic Strategy Project was established in 2009 by the San Luis Obispo Economic Vitality Corporation (EVC) in partnership with the County of San Luis Obispo and the business community. The Project is the first-ever public/private partnership to perform an in-depth assessment and develop an economic strategic plan for the San Luis Obispo County region. The Project was published and endorsed by the County Board of Supervisors (BOS) in 2010 and supported by both the private and public sectors. The EVC has been overseeing the implementation of the Project and completed a formal update to the Economic Strategy in 2015, also endorsed by the BOS.

Guided by the original, endorsed strategy, the Project involves six business clusters, the facilitation of enhanced communication between local governments and private industry, and collaborative approach to implement a variety of economic initiatives. To date, one of the greatest accomplishments is the update to the County of San Luis Obispo’s Economic Element of its General Plan.
For more in-depth descriptions of the industry clusters, strategic initiatives, the impacts of this Project, please see the following reports.
MAIN REPORT: Economic Strategy for San Luis Obispo County (November 2010)
Full Report: Economic Strategy Update 2015

Clusters of Industry

To promote a stable and sustainable balance of employment and economic growth while protecting natural resources and our community culture.

To foster a thriving, technological community by offering a superior set of resources to plant, grow and sustain businesses with a competitive advantage and achieve recognition for the county as a cradle of innovation.

To position, brand, and promote San Luis Obispo County as a choice destination for regional, national, and global visitors.

To leverage the strength and quality of the cluster to grow business, collaborate on projects, share and develop knowledge, and make a positive impact on the region.

To establish San Luis Obispo County as a center for wellness excellence by both expanding the range of care facilities, new technologies, and services and enabling residents to age in place without the need to travel outside the area for health care services.


To continue San Luis Obispo County as a world-class leader in the development and use of renewable energy through the implementation of a diversified portfolio of key initiatives, including efficiencies, clean vehicle infrastructure, continued generation systems and new forms of utility scale generation.


In San Luis Obispo County, finding affordable housing is a long-standing challenge faced by those with low, moderate and even above-moderate income levels. Led by industry leaders of all six business clusters, the Workforce Housing Initiative is designed to foster collaboration between the public and private sector to drive housing solutions in our county.
Infrastructure planning, financing, and prioritization are all challenging issues that the region of of San Luis Obispo County faces similar to other counties in California. Led by members of the Building, Design and Construction Cluster, the Infrastructure Subcommittee is designed to address the challenges by providing a venue for collaboration on government policies.
As part of this initiative, the Broadband Consortium assesses broadband assets and opportunities, educates policymakers on the benefits of forward-thinking policies, and provides support to expedite major, cost-effective, and strategic broadband infrastructure projects.
The EVC collaborates with the county, the airport and key business leaders from clusters such as Knowledge and Innovation and Uniquely SLO to attract additional service options.


What is the Economic Strategy Project?

The Economic Strategy Project is the first-ever local public/private partnership to provide an in-depth assessment of, and strategies for, San Luis Obispo County’s economy. The project established a strategy to create more long-term prosperity for our local economy. Started in late 2009, this vital project is a multi-phase approach incorporating an analytical phase to identify challenges and opportunities through key economic metrics with key business sectors stakeholder input. Driven by the business community, the Economic Strategy was published in November 2010, with the implementation of the plan in January 2011.

Which organizations or sectors are endorsing this project?

This project is endorsed by both the public and private sectors. Local government and the business community are all supporting the project. The County of San Luis Obispo and several businesses are sponsoring the project (see list below). These supporters believe that our local economy can be healthier in the long-term.

Which organization is leading the project?

A group of businesses and government leaders, including the County Board of Supervisors, appointed the Economic Vitality Corporation (“EVC”) to fundraise for and manage this project. Established in 1994, as a non-profit economic development organization that provides business resources throughout the county, the EVC is viewed as being unbiased, with strong relationships throughout the County’s business community.

Which consulting firm was hired for this project?

In the summer of 2009, a steering committee was formed and County Supervisors Frank Mecham and Adam Hill were selected as co-chairs of the project. Consulting firms throughout the nation were interviewed that specialized in developing economic strategies, and in the Fall of 2009, the Steering Committee selected Collaborative Economics, Inc. (a Mountain View, California-based firm). The EVC also draws on the expertise of other business experts including Don Maruskla & Company and Collaboration LLC. to support the project’s constant evolution and success.

When will the project be completed?

The Economic Strategy highlights the results of the initial data analysis and input from business leaders throughout the county. The implementation of the Economic Strategy is ongoing, building upon that foundation and responding to current challenges and economic opportunities, as prioritized by the industry stakeholders. At this time, there is no established completion date as the industry clusters continue to find new initiatives to create more jobs and help foster contributions to the local economy.

Who is impacted?

Virtually all residents throughout the county will be impacted by, and benefit from, the proposed strategy. Because a healthy community requires healthy businesses, the strategy will impact people of all ages and companies in nearly every sector of our economy. Citizens and local government will benefit from an increase in the number of head-of-household jobs and more revenue for vital infrastructure and community services.

Will those persons not working benefit from the project?

Yes. This project will benefit citizens outside of the workforce such as students and retirees, and even the unemployed, because it will help provide revenue to cities and the County to pay for the vital community services and infrastructure. Through the creation of a more vital and diverse economy, more tax revenue will be generated to help local governments. The project also serves to strengthen our economy, supporting emerging industries and promoting job growth.

Is the project intended to address the current economic recession?

No. The project is not a reaction to the current economic recession, but will offer solutions to near-term and long-term challenges and opportunities.

How will the final product differ from the Economic Element of the County’s General Plan?

The Economic Element of the County’s General Plan is an overarching policy document, which serves to guide policies and resources. The Economic Strategy achieved updating the Economic Element as one of its important objectives. The recently revised Element now references the Strategy.

What is expected from the project long-term?

It is envisioned that the strategy will positively impact our local economy and communities, based upon a greater understanding achieved through a deep analysis of our business sectors, and solutions from the business community for a healthier economy. The strategy offers ways to create more head-of-household jobs, foster more businesses compatible to our county, and create ways to develop more tax rolls for our local government for vital infrastructure and sevices.

How is the project funded?

The Economic Strategy is funded approximately 50% from the County of San Luis Obispo and 50% from the business community. Additional funds to implement the identified economic priorities of the plan have also been secured through grants and project sponsorships.

We wish to thank the following sponsors on this project:
• Andre, Morris & Buttery
• AT&T
• Bank of America
• County of San Luis Obispo
• Don Maruska & Company
• First Solar
• Morgan Family Foundation
• Pacific Gas & Electric Company
• Rabobank, N.A.
• RRM Design Group
• Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center
• Southern California Gas Co.
• SunPower
• TJA Advertising

Contact EVC for an update on the implementation and how to get involved.

Economic Strategy