By Chamber Chair Stacy Miller
It has been my honor to serve as your Chair of the Board for 2019. In addition to working with an excellent board of directors, Chamber CEO and staff, I have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know and work with the myriad of business and government leaders in Oxnard. These dedicated professionals regularly seek out ways to improve the business climate in our community, generously giving of their time and talent to improve Oxnard for the benefit of everyone.
While Oxnard is known as Ventura County’s most populated community, it is also home to many amazing businesses that employ thousands of people. Over the last year, I have had the privilege of touring some of these businesses, including Haas Automation, Mission Produce and CURE Pharmaceutical to name a few. At all of these (and other) Oxnard-based businesses, I have been very impressed by their world-class technology and expertise in their fields; all right here in Oxnard!
At the local government level, the Chamber works together with local leaders on issues ranging from land use and business regulations, to homelessness and housing. While we are not always in agreement on every issue, I have consistently experienced a great willingness on the part of our leaders to listen and consider varying ideas and opinions for the good of our community.
It is my pleasure to share with you a few of the many accomplishments made by the Oxnard Chamber of Commerce in 2019, in partnership with the business and government communities:
I want to thank each and every one of you for your support and participation with the Oxnard Chamber of Commerce. Together we can continue to be the catalyst for business growth, the convener for leaders and influencers, and the champion for a stronger community.
By Chamber Chair Stacy Miller
Now more than ever, our communities need good, hard-working and dedicated leaders. We need people who are willing to sacrifice their time and treasure for the good of others. We need these people to step up and serve but, first, we need them to be educated.
That is where the Oxnard Chamber of Commerce's Oxnard Leadership Program comes in. This dynamic, 10-session course provides participants with relevant and accurate information about key local and regional issues, one-on-one time with proven leaders, and a network of contacts to take those next steps.
Leadership is lifting a person's vision to high sights, the raising of a person's performance to a higher standard, the building of a personality beyond its normal limitations.
The program is open to anyone however applicants need to have a desire and dedication to enhance their leadership potential; increase their knowledge of the community; and be willing to commit their individual talents in future years toward the betterment of Oxnard. The gains are tremendous and include:
“Whether you are new to the area or have lived here for years, this important program can open new doors of opportunity,” commented Shelly Merrell, President & CEO for Integrated Fire Safety.
Shelly and I have each agreed to sponsor one participant as part of our commitment to future community leaders, I hope other leaders will join us in supporting this great program.
If you or someone you know would benefit from this program, I encourage to complete the online application available from the Chamber’s website: www.oxnardchamber.org/oxnard-leadership.html.
Let’s all help tomorrow’s leaders start learning today!
The 10-session program focuses on one topic per all-day session:
Session 1: Government
Learn about the governmental structure of our region and meet with city and county-level elected officials as they share their experience and vision for our community.
Session 2 - Public Safety
Spend the day alongside Oxnard Police Department, SWAT, and take a behind-the-scenes tour of Ventura County Jail.
Session 3 - Education
Visit our local high schools and universities to see how they’re serving our young people and preparing the next generation of leaders.
Session 4 - History, Parks & Museums
Discover how our community was founded and experience our regions rich culture and history.
Session 5 - International Trade & Defense
Guided tours of The Port of Hueneme and Naval Base Ventura County will display the impact these institutions have on a local, regional and international level.
Session 6 - Public Services
Go behind-the-scenes to see how our city services operate on a daily basis. Past visits include the Advanced Water Purification Facility, Del Norte Regional Recycling, and the Wastewater Treatment Plant.
Session 7 - Health & Human Services
Visits to St. John’s Regional Medical Center and FOOD Share highlight the ways our community is serving the needs of a growing population.
Session 8 - Commerce
Discover your leadership style, learn about workforce development & business ethics, and visit some of our local businesses. Past visits have included Haas Automation and a boat tour of Channel Islands Harbor.
Session 9 - Agriculture/Natural Resources
Meet with the Ventura County Agricultural Commissioner, tour a local farm, and experience an incredible agricultural testing facility located right here in our own backyard.
Session 10 - Energy
Learn about oil and gas production in Ventura County and its impact here and abroad, discover alternative energy sources, and hear from experts in the field.
By Chamber Chair Stacy Miller
Drinking establishments are not what they used to be.
In 2019, many of them, like craft breweries, seek to be family-friendly places of business. They not only serve craft beer, but also cater to families by providing a family-friendly atmosphere and activities for kids, like food trucks and board games.
This is the case with two local establishments that reached out to the City of Oxnard and the Oxnard Chamber of Commerce, requesting assistance with lifting a regulation that prohibited anyone under 21 from entering. (This applied to craft breweries without a kitchen.)
The craft brewery business-model focuses on providing a family-friendly environment where mom and dad can enjoy a cold one at the end of the day, while their children play safely nearby. Unfortunately, in Oxnard, unlike other neighboring cities, there was a regulation that prohibited people under 21 to accompany an adult to a craft brewery.
When brought to the attention of Jeff Lambert, Oxnard’s Community Development Director, he did his research and realized that the City didn’t have the authority to put such a condition on the businesses and set in motion to make a change. And it worked; the restriction was lifted.
"It’s important that we continue to look for ways to make doing business in the city of Oxnard easier,” says Lambert. “We look forward to more opportunities to streamline and reduce red tape."
How’s that for government working with local business?
This is absolutely a case of win-win-win. The City wins because it will see more revenue from the businesses; the businesses win because they are seeing more sales, and patrons win because they are no longer restricted from bringing their children with them to their favorite craft beer hangout.
The Oxnard Chamber extends its warmest thanks to the City of Oxnard for its forward-thinking approach to working with local businesses. Let’s keep this trend going!
American economic growth is highly dependent on the quality and quantity of workers. Currently, the United States is facing a severe skilled and unskilled worker shortage that has long and short-term economic implications. - Global Risk Insights
By Chamber Chair Stacy Miller
My professional mentor, a long-time city manager, loved to share his favorite story about good planning. It involved “The Seven Generation Stewardship,” a concept that urges the current generation of humans to live and work for the benefit of the seventh generation (140 years) into the future. The Seven Generation Stewardship principle is believed to have originated with the Iroquois Indians and encourages this forward thinking in all decisions, resulting in a sustainable world, seven generations into the future.
I was reminded of this story during a recent presentation from Oxnard City Manager Alex Nguyen, who spoke of “Moore’s Law,” a computing term that originated around 1970. The simplified version of this law states that processor speeds, or overall processing power for computers, will double every two years.
Alex was referring to Intel’s chips which have improved performance a factor of 3,500 since they were introduced, reflecting a 90,000-times improvement in energy efficiency and at one-60,000th of the cost.
Had a 1971 Volkswagen Beetle undergone the same transformation, it would now travel at 300,000 miles per hour, achieve two million miles per gallon, and cost four cents. Wow!
Moore’s Law became a guiding light for an industry. Moore’s original article also envisioned a future for cheaper, more powerful semiconductors. He envisioned PCs, cell phones, self-driving cars and electronic wristwatches—all powered by ever-improving chips.
Both the Seven Generation Stewardship concept and Moore’s Law demonstrate the importance of true forward-planning and efficiency.
Alex’s point, however, hits a little closer to home. Like many of us, Alex is very concerned that today’s workforce is ill-prepared for tomorrow’s jobs, which as he points out, are here now.
Here in Oxnard, one of the top issues we hear from employers is a lack of trained and educated workers. There are local jobs waiting to be filled and employers are frustrated with the lack of candidates applying that just don’t meet the necessary criteria for the jobs. For the first time in our country, there are more job openings than there are eligible workers to fill them.
So how did we get here? There are several trends that have contributed to this. One of these is “The Silver Tsunami,” whereby 45% of the current workforce will be retiring and/or leaving the workforce within the next decade.
Another trend is the growth of the temporary worker. The rise of temporary workers is a workforce trend that’s here to stay and there are predictions that 40% of the workforce will be contingent on temporary workers by 2020.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, temporary workers make up 19% of all new jobs in the U.S. By 2020, more than 40 percent of the U.S. workforce are expected to be temporary or contingent workers.
Just these two trends alone—people leaving the full-time workforce and the growing number of temporary workers--are big contributors to our lack of adequate, qualified employees.
According to "The Atlantic," it’s estimated that the U.S. economy will need as many as 100,000 new information technology workers every year for the next decade. By 2026, there will be 2.6 million new jobs in healthcare, one-fifth of all new jobs. The changing demand for specific skills is being felt across industries and, as a result, companies and organizations are investing in programs that empower the workforce of the future through job retraining.
So, what is being done locally and around the country?
But many workers are finding that job retraining alone is not enough. Support networks and social services are needed to support the transition to new types of work.
What else is being done here in Oxnard and Ventura County? I would love to hear from you! Please email me your thoughts and ideas at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Chair of the Board Stacy Miller
It’s no secret that cities across the country are dealing with the impacts of homelessness. In Oxnard, Ventura County’s largest city, lives the county’s largest number of homeless, estimated at about 700 individuals.
For Oxnard City Manager Alex Nguyen, it is a daily work effort for his staff and the Oxnard Police Department that has cost the city $3.2 million over two years.
“It is frustrating to hear people say that the city isn’t doing anything to deal with the impacts of homelessness in Oxnard,” laments Nguyen. "There isn’t a day that goes by that we aren’t responding to calls regarding issues surrounding homeless individuals.”
Nguyen’s frustration centers on the fact that the funding approved by California voters is slow in making its way to cities that deal with the issues every day. In fact, the state has about $2 billion in housing and homeless funding, but those funds are not being provided for the day-to-day urgent problems cities confront.
“The city does not condone vagrancy. We are spending millions on police services and code enforcement, all of which do nothing to get anyone off the street for any length of time,” he stated.
Nguyen subscribes to the “housing first” model, which, according to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, is a homeless assistance approach that prioritizes providing permanent housing to people experiencing homelessness thus ending their homelessness and serving as a platform from which they can pursue personal goals and improve their quality of life. This approach is guided by the belief that people need necessities like food and a place to live before attending to anything less critical, such as getting a job, budgeting or attending to substance abuse and mental health issues.
But that costs money which Nguyen believes is the responsibility of the state. Right now, Nguyen and his team are working with various partners, including neighboring cities, Ventura County and private developers, to identify potential sites in Oxnard for future housing, utilizing eventual state and other funding sources.
“If communities are going to really make an impact with homelessness, then it is going to take the combined efforts of government, business, nonprofit organizations and individuals,” he said. “This is one of the big challenges of our era that will require active participation, funding and coordination on many levels."
How Businesses Can Help
For Oxnard-based businesses dealing with the day-to-day impacts of homelessness, the issue is a volatile one. Businesses have expressed frustration with public intoxication, trash and other homelessness issues that hamper their businesses. But rather than just complain, Nguyen is urging businesses to be a small part of the solution.
“Businesses can help the issue by doing a few simple things: consider cutting hedges around their businesses to prevent people from sleeping there; consider bringing on private security; and also be willing to hire one or two formerly homeless individuals,” explains Nguyen. “Having a job is a vital component of regaining life stability.”
While it is important that everyone do their part, Nguyen emphasizes that the ultimate funding source is the state, and if cities don’t receive direct funding to fight homelessness, we all will continue to experience degrading quality of life.
“The state currently provides direct funding through the biggest 13 cities. This is very frustrating for local governments. Every day we are spending money and time on everything from chasing down shopping carts and cleaning up trash, to responding to calls about public urination and vagrancy,” adds Nguyen. “There are so many other things we need to get done in Oxnard but if we don’t do a better job of housing the homeless, we won’t be able to get there."
Clearly, our city manager is frustrated with the lack of financial and other assistance to aid the homelessness crisis. Please consider contacting your elected officials and the governor’s office regarding this important issue.