1999 State of the East County Address
"East County: On the Move!"
Cuyamaca College Amphitheater
May 27, 1999
Welcome to East County!
Good evening. I am pleased to join you in celebrating the fourth annual Economic Prosperity Month - and to announce that East County is on the move! Only two weeks ago, I had the pleasure of helping Cuyamaca College dedicate this wonderful new conservation garden - the largest in Southern California thanks to the efforts of the Helix and Otay Water Districts. This college is also the home of the Heritage of the Americas Museum which boasts one of the best collections of American Indian history and Western art. And today, we have the honor of christening this impressive amphitheater.
We're here this evening to celebrate our accomplishments and look to the future. I'm proud to tell you there are many success stories to prove the East County economy is booming.
It's booming, thanks - in part - to the efforts of Deanna Weeks and the East County Economic Development Council.
East County Communities on the Move!
Right here in Rancho San Diego, we opened the beautiful new Town Center. With 400,000 square feet of great shopping, dining and entertainment, it's the largest commercial development in the unincorporated area.
In Lakeside, the Upper San Diego River Improvement Project is finally underway. We look forward to the long-awaited build-to-suit manufacturing facilities. And along with the River Improvement Project, we have an opportunity for a scenic trail all the way from El Capitan to the ocean.
East County Cities on the Move!
El Cajon is on the move. Mayor Mark Lewis and I had the chance recently to join Ketema Vice President, Tom Brooks, for the opening of not only the largest manufacturing plant in El Cajon, but in all of East County.
This 100,000 square foot plant can produce anything from parts for satellite equipment to commercial jet components.
At Gillespie Field, Royal Jet just opened an awesome 30,000 square foot jet hangar - now the home of 12 sleek-looking private jets.
And we have seen the re-birth of the East County Performing Arts Center, under the leadership of Mitch Gershenfeld. The Center is now the venue for some top name entertainers like Paul Anka, Tony Bennett, Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme - in fact, Tony Bennett, during his performance, turned off the mike, saying the acoustics were equal to Carnegie Hall! The E.C.P.A.C. is drawing an audience from La Jolla to the desert - in fact, 60% of their audience comes from outside East County!
El Cajon is also working to beautify and revitalize their downtown. They've committed to add parking and landscaping to make downtown El Cajon a fun place to shop - like some residents remember it back in the fifties!
The City of Lemon Grove, too, is excited about the "Blast from the Past" classic car show sure to draw a crowd downtown every Friday night in September. And those who arrive by trolley should appreciate the new landscaping along the Lemon Grove trolley corridor!
In La Mesa, they'll see their share of vintage cars, too. Besides the "Back to the Fifties" car show which has been a hit with car enthusiasts for 4 years, the History Channel will bring its "Great Race" to East County. The 3,500 mile race begins in Marrieta, Georgia and cruises through La Mesa's village on June 18.
While vintage cars are on the move, La Mesa's economy is also on the move. They're adding 40,000 square feet of retail shopping adjacent to Grossmont Center. The first confirmed tenant - "Zany Brainy" - will help to shape the minds of East County kids at an early age. East County Schools on the Move!
And speaking of shaping minds, East County schools are on the move too!
When the new Steele Canyon High School opens next year, we'll see the birth of East County's own "School of the Future" - where we can link the business world with teachers and students. With principal Terrie Pennock at the helm, this new school will put students in "real life" situations. For example, students will learn math and science by working with local agencies like the Otay Water District to monitor water quality. They'll be learning cabling and computer repair skills from businesses like Apex Communications.
Students will be able to choose a "career training path." This "career track" method of learning breaks the traditional mold of education. And it ensures that our children are educated for the kinds of well-paid jobs that will be so vital to our region over the next decade.
I want to assure you, however, that Steele Canyon isn't the only high school in the area to offer programs like this. Some of our communities' older schools are "getting in shape" for the 21st century, too! Take for example Cajon Valley High School where principal Bill Melton and staff are transforming the curriculum to prepare our kids for the workforce. At Cajon Valley, students will be able to choose career paths, such as medical, fire services, welding, and automotive.
I know it's been said many times before: Children truly are our most precious and greatest resource. And no one knows that better than Bill Melton, Terrie Pennock and Shelby Garrison, Director of Grossmont's school-to-career program. They are working to make changes that will make school a better place for kids. Let's take a moment to applaud their vision and courage.
I'd also like to recognize Granger Ward who will take the reins as the new Superintendent of the Grossmont Union High School District on July 1. We are thrilled to welcome him to East County!
East County Students on the Move!
Parents and teachers know that our young people become more interested in math and science careers if they have opportunities to learn outside the classroom. And I wholeheartedly support the efforts of the Grossmont Union High School District as they work to set up a Science Fair for our talented students.
A fine example of one of these budding geniuses - in our very own community - is Elizabeth Rotzheim. Check this out: Elizabeth designed a computer program to analyze cell images and identify tumors. She's received several awards competing in local science fairs - and took home the prize for second place at the State level!
By the way, Elizabeth's dad, Bill Rotzheim of Jamul, owns Marotz, Inc., a software development company named by Deloitte and Touche as one of the 500 fastest growing technology firms in the U.S. With this kind of local talent, is it any wonder that East County is on the move?
And then, there's Matt Doering, former Cuyamaca College student. After winning awards for his achievements in the automotive field, Matt went on to work for Ford Motor Company. Now he earns in the neighborhood of $60,000 a year as a automotive technician. Matt is a true success story. But we need more students to follow in Matt's footsteps.
Today, we have an annual shortage of 20,000 automotive technicians nationwide.
Now more than ever, there are plenty of jobs waiting to be filled - not just in the automotive field. That's why vocational education in our schools is so essential. Did you know tool and die makers earn between $40,000 and $60,000 per year? Incidentally, they have the seventh highest lifetime earnings of any U.S. occupation!
Journeyman machinists make between $30,000 and $80,000 per year! And certified auto mechanics can earn up to $100,000 a year! Where will we find the 20,000 automotive technicians, the tool and die makers, machinists, those trained in high tech, wood workers, plumbers and electricians of the future?
The answer is right in front of us - beginning with the students who have received awards here this evening and those students sitting in classrooms of our schools. More than half of this nation's high school students do not go on to college. Of those who do go to college, only half graduate. I challenge students to check out these vocational opportunities. I challenge parents and educators to encourage students to consider these careers. And I challenge Grossmont Union High School District officials to strongly support vocational programs. We need more, not less!
East County on the Move!
Working with Deanna and the East County EDC, we're continuing to find ways to capitalize on the strong military presence in the region. Plans are underway to forge new links between SPAWAR and our East County business community. Under the leadership of Colleen Ruiz-Jackson, the Project Navy Committee is also on the move. And for those of you who may be interested - we're bringing Fleet Week to East County to honor our military. The San Diego East Visitors Bureau is sponsoring a USO celebration set for July 24 at Gillespie Field, complete with "big band" sounds and home cooked food!
And East County is "where the action is" for Indian gaming! Barona, Sycuan and Viejas contribute some $600 million annually to our local economy. Indian gaming is not only an important part of our economic base, but it has helped launch East County as a tourist destination. With plans to build hotels and a championship golf course, this area is quickly emerging as a vacationer's dream!
East County is on the move in Santee, too, with plans to build a 350,000 square foot entertainment and retail complex and a 3,300 seat movie theater - all conveniently located near the Santee Trolley Center.
And how about this? How about a high-tech campus in Santee? Over one-hundred acres in the Santee Town Center could become the headquarters for high tech research and development companies. And that translates into more jobs for East County - and good-paying jobs, too.
What's next for the Connect-ory? How about expanding opportunities on line for East County businesses across the border? The East County EDC will be tapping into this $11 billion market with help from the San Diego EDC, other regional partners, and your County Supervisor.
And we must work harder to build needed highway improvements like the completion of Highway 52, I-8, the 94/125 north-south freeway ramps, 67 and the Bradley Avenue interchange - because adequate roadways are essential to keeping East County on the move.
County Government Is on the Move - Doing Business Cheaper, Better and Faster!
On tax day (April 15th), the County of San Diego won two highly-coveted "Golden Watch Dog" Awards from the San Diego County Taxpayers Association - an organization that acts as fiscal watchdogs over government.
One for the elimination of the Business License Tax - which saves businesses about $1 million each year. The second award recognized the County for operating more like a business, saving taxpayers another $35 million each year!
Thinking about building a home? Starting a new business from the ground up? The Board of Supervisors recently cut building permit fees by 24%! As of July 1, the County of San Diego will have the lowest building permit fees of any jurisdiction in the region. This means savings of nearly $1.5 million annually for home buyers and business owners.
And if you live in Alpine, Lakeside or Spring Valley and within a County sanitation district, your sewer fees will not go up! And, in the Wintergardens sewer district, you'll actually see a 10% decrease!
As you can see, the changes we've put in place at the County have enabled us to give the savings back to business owners and to you, the taxpayers. We are doing business cheaper, better and faster than ever before. And that is good news for East County!
East County Moving Into the New Millennium!
Yes, East County is on the move.
With organizations like the East County EDC, the San Diego East Visitors Bureau, the Chambers of Commerce, working with the East County elected officials, we are on the move!
We know that the key to retaining and attracting business in East County is a plentiful, well-trained workforce, a hospitable business climate, safe streets and neighborhoods, affordable housing and the quality of life which brought us all here in the first place!
Key to maintaining our quality of life is our continued efforts to preserve 172,000 acres of meaningful open space with riding and hiking trails.
Open space acquisitions in East County include land at Volcan Mountain, San Vicente, Lakeside, Crest, Rancho San Diego, Jamul, Steel Canyon and Singing Hills - representing more land under California's conservation program than any other jurisdiction in the state! That delicate balance between environmental protection and economic development will ensure a quality of life in East County second to none!