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Central Coast economic forecast held in Santa Maria, adding high-paying jobs listed as a top priority

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The Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce, along with Aera Energy, will host the 2020 Economic Forecast for Santa Barbara County Monday afternoon.

SANTA MARIA, Calif. - The Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce, along with Aera Energy, held the 2020 Economic Forecast for Northern Santa Barbara and San Luis Obipso counties Monday afternoon.

The 90-minute event attracted numerous local business, education and government leaders to at the Severson Theatre on the Allan Hancock College campus.

"We wanted to take a look at what are some of the key drivers of regional economy and share with people some of the things we are working on and supporting that we think will help keep our local economy moving forward," said Glenn Morris, Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce President/CEO.

The feature speakers were Melissa James, President & CEO, The Hourglass Project, as well as Dr. Chris Thornberg, PhD, Founding Partner, Beacon Economics.

James provided the audience with a preview of Reach 2030, a recently developed jobs action plan for the Central Coast.

"The goal for the job plan is to create 15,000 new head-of-household jobs over the next 10 years and that will be done by helping to build out and grow our existing industries, but also attracting new industries," said Morris.

The Hourglass Project describes itself as a "coalition of business and civic leaders who have come together to form a region-wide economic development action tank to create high quality jobs throughout the Central Coast Super Region – from Vandenberg Air Force Base to Camp Roberts."

Thornberg unveiled a new report about California's future need for renewable and petroleum-based fuels.

"(Energy) is such a foundational industry in North County and provides a lot of jobs and a lot of wealth in our community," said Morris. "There is still a lot of demand and we need to figure out how we continue to power in all of the different ways. We think there is a role for the oil and gas industry that has been a good part of our region for a long period of time. "

James also mentioned The Hourglass Project will hold a public summit for Reach 2030 on March 16 at the Clark Center in Arroyo Grande.

The presentation is scheduled from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.

California / Community / Economy / Environment / Lifestyle / Santa Maria - North County / Technology

Dave Alley

Dave Alley is a reporter and anchor at KCOY|KEYT|KKFX.