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Our View: Let’s grow seed of Auburn industry bigger

Focus on Auburn Industry the right move
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Lately Auburn seems to be taking good steps toward focusing on how to be a bigger part of a growing industry – and it’s letting other businesses know it.

As further indication that marketing Auburn to more business is becoming popular, discussions of the economy and how to better market Auburn have become a part of the most recent city council election campaign. 

This is a good, needed direction for Auburn leaders to take and it should be further embraced and improved upon in the coming years. 

Last week the City of Auburn, Placer County and the Auburn Chamber of Commerce hosted Auburn Industry 2012 at the Auburn airport. The event was held to showcase Auburn’s airport industrial park and show companies why they should relocate to the area. The program, which drew a crowd of about 100 and included non-local business CEOs, featured Auburn-based CEOs sharing why they headquarter their business in the foothills. The local CEOs included those in charge of a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility, a leader in disaster proof technology, entertainment companies, a billion dollar gas business and a renowned sculptor.  

One Sacramento president of a telecommunications firm said he knew there was an airport in Auburn and there were some high-tech companies in the area, but attending the industry event connected the two for him. He said it planted a seed as he looks at his company’s five to 10-year plan. 

Planting that seed and marketing Auburn as a place for technology, manufacturing and other companies is a great start. That in turn offers local jobs and moves more people into the area, which potentially means more property sales tax and local sales tax dollars.

Event chairperson and Auburn City Councilwoman Bridget Powers said several have asked whether they’ll do the event next year. Powers said it’s possible, but more help would be needed and nothing has been scheduled yet.

This kind of event and marketing is forward thinking and there should be more of it. Making it an annual or bi-annual event should be done. A timeline of how to regularly host this event in the future should be part of the economic development commission’s plan moving forward. 

 Powers said they are keeping a list of who attended and have already started to follow-up with businesses of interest. 

Education is also a key component of growing a workforce for the technology industry Auburn is trying to attract. Locally, Placer High School is getting on board. 

Placer High’s mechatronics classes are helping prep students for a future education and career in manufacturing or its related industries. Some of the skills can parlay into jobs in electronics, computer control and mechanical engineering. 

According to a September memo from Dave Snyder, director of economic development for Placer County, the county has about 270 manufacturers whose annual payroll of $547 million gives jobs to more than 7,000 residents. 

In 2010, the average salary including benefits for a manufacture worker in the U.S. was about $77,000, compared to an average annual salary of $56,000 for workers in all industries, according to a report by the U.S. Department of Commerce Economics and Statistics Administration.

It is great to see a class related to this kind of work at Placer High School that offers students hands-on learning with electronics. Further, a good grade in the class can transfer as college credit, giving kids a small leg-up into the next steps of education. 

In a time when we constantly hear about cuts to schools, it’s good to see what resources there are available being allocated to one area that helps students develop a future. 

Our school, city and county leaders should continue their focus on marketing industry and manufacturing options in Auburn. It’s forward thinking and has the potential to give Auburn an economic boost in the future to help preserve and grow all of the good qualities of foothills life.