Merced County’s Elevator Speech

A local company doing its part to help grow the regional economy. Photo: Steve Newvine

A local company doing its part to help grow the regional economy. Photo: Steve Newvine

Most of us are familiar with the term “elevator speech”.

It’s grown to mean how we explain a detailed concept in the amount of time it would take to ride an elevator up or down several floors.
Here’s the scenario.

Someone walks into an elevator and stands next to a friendly-looking stranger. As the doors close, this person strikes up a conversation. You don’t have much time to answer.

You want to make a good impression.

That’s the idea behind the elevator speech.

You have just a few moments to cut to the most important aspect of the question, and you have to leave an impression with the person you are talking to.

The five-year strategy document prepared by the County Economic and Community Development department contains the elevator speech about Merced County.

The document was prepared by the Community Economic Development Strategy committee or CEDS.

In Merced County, a CEDS Steering Committee has representatives from six cities and two from the County. The CEDS Committee is the Workforce Investment Board where I serve as Vice Chair and served as Board Chair a few years ago.

The Community Economic Development Strategy or CEDS document.

The Community Economic Development Strategy or CEDS document.

In order to get federal economic development funding, a CEDS document needs to be in place. The 2019-2024 CEDS is fifty pages long. It has an executive summary, sections on such topics as demographics and transportation, and a breakdown of seven primary locations for industrial growth. There’s a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) recap, and the section called “Action Plan”.

That Action Plan is the elevator speech for Merced County.

In just three pages, the reader can see the top three priorities for economic development in our community. Broken down in three sections, this action plan/elevator speech should serve as a quick front-and-center awareness statement for Merced County.

The Elevator Speech

  • Grow our Economy- create local jobs by helping existing businesses and bringing in new companies.
  • Enhance our Competitiveness- prepare the County for business investment by addressing real estate infrastructure, improving the permit process, and developing business parks.
  • Develop our Talent- work with business and education to create a work-ready labor force

If you can articulate these three statements, in your own words, to someone who wants to know more about doing business in Merced County, you will have mastered the elevator speech.

So how do you tell this elevator story?

Here’s a quick primer. Grow our Economy. We can begin by saying we’re working hard to create local jobs.

Point to last summer’s effort to save hundreds of jobs at Foster Farms in Livingston. That effort didn’t just happen. A number of key organizations, like the City of Livingston, Merced County, and the State of California stepped up to do what they could do to keep Foster Farms from moving most of their chicken processing operation out of state.

Several months after the deal was made, the company announced further expansion plans in Merced County.

Intensified efforts to improve Career and Technical Education in Merced County Schools exemplifies the “Enhancing our Competitiveness” component of the Community Economic Development Strategy. Photo: Steve Newvine

Intensified efforts to improve Career and Technical Education in Merced County Schools exemplifies the “Enhancing our Competitiveness” component of the Community Economic Development Strategy. Photo: Steve Newvine

Enhance our Competitiveness.

We can talk about how local governments are working to make it easier for businesses to start, expand, and grow. We need to remind people there is now a one-stop permitting center inside the Merced County Government Center on M Street in Merced.

Develop our Talent.

We can point to the Career and Technical Education (CTE) efforts going on right now in the Merced Union School District. Every student, not just those on the CTE track, now are required to take two courses that are designed to prepare for the workforce. This makes sense when you hear how employers are looking for workers who are prepared for work. It makes even more sense when we realize that just about every college student holds a part time job while pursuing their degree.

All of this rolls up into the Strategy document. When it is formally adopted by the Board of Supervisors, it will be on the County’s website.

The words matter.

The actions matter even more.

9 From 99 w/new afterword

9 From 99 w/new afterword

Steve Newvine lives in Merced. For the past thirteen years, he has served on the Merced County Workforce Investment Board including two years as chairman.

For the past eleven years, he has written an annual assessment of Labor in Merced County; first with the Merced Sun Star and now with MercedCountyEvents.com