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Slow growth solution focus of summit Allison K. Sampite | Sat, Oct 08 2011 12:00 PM


Local elected officials and state economists recently discussed the impact of the state budget on the local and regional economy.

At the South County Economic Development Summit Sept. 30, South Bay and regional community leader panelists discussed how to improve the local economy by reducing border wait times, continuing redevelopment projects, encouraging small business and employment and improving old infrastructure.

National City Mayor Ron Morrison said the biggest economic downfall is that the proposed elimination of redevelopment will limit ongoing projects.

"They (the state) found another way to shift money from local government to state government," he said. "At the local level, that means we have less service..."

In March, California Gov. Jerry Brown's proposed eliminating redevelopment agencies across the state to help bridge its estimated $26 billion budget deficit.

Chula Vista Councilwoman Pamela Bensoussan agreed it's a huge setback.

"We have programs that were funded and shovel ready, such as the Third Avenue Streetscape makeover," Bensoussan said. "This important project, currently somewhat in limbo, would be a catalyst for revitalization in western Chula Vista, but part of the funding is now in question."

The National City and Chula Vista City Councils voted in July and August, respectively, to participate in a voluntary alternative redevelopment program to keep projects going.

In addition, many officials agreed that reducing border wait times is critical to helping the local economy.

"There ain't no just in time deliveries because of the border waits," Congressman Bob Filner said. "We have allies all over our nation that we haven't utilized."

Chula Vista and National City suffered severe unemployment rates at 11.7 percent and 19 percent, respectively, in December 2010, according to the San Diego Workforce Partnership.

Assembly member Ben Hueso, whose district covers parts of National City and Chula Vista, said he's focused on making more resources available to support small businesses and create more jobs.

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