Economic diversity can help create long-term stability and economic resilience. This resilience (the ability to recover from adverse changes in the economy or environment) is particularly important as the effects of climate change create economic disruptions through wildfire, drought, increasingly variable storm events, and sea level rise.
The market outlook for different industries with the potential to grow and thrive in Ventura County depends on local, national, and global factors. Projected long-term growth in sectors such as professional services, health care, arts, entertainment, and education will help to further diversify Ventura County’s economy. An important asset for the county is its education cluster, including higher education institutions. There are two universities in the county’s unincorporated areas, California State University, Channel Islands (CSUCI), and Thomas Aquinas College. CSUCI expects to expand its 2016 enrollment level by over 70 percent by 2025, which will generate growth in faculty and staff as well as supportive goods and services in the local economy. University-driven innovation can also be an important source of business diversification. In addition to education institutions, another unique asset to the county are Federally- and State-managed areas which are available for public use. The county is home to large portions of the Los Padres National Forest and the Channel Islands National Park, which bring parkland management, research, and tourism to the county.
Areas of economic diversification within Ventura County could focus on industry clusters. Industry clusters represent aggregations of interrelated industry sectors within a region. For Ventura County, the largest industry clusters (by employment) include business services, distribution, education, agriculture, information technology, biopharmaceuticals, financial services, health care services, and hospitality. According to the Ventura County Economic Vitality Strategic Plan, industry clusters in the county with the highest concentration of employment, relative to national trends, would also include agriculture and metal working technology. Projected industry cluster growth shows the highest percentages occurring with business services, construction, financial services, oil and gas production, video production and distribution, and education.1
Other opportunities for diversification include environmental technologies (“green economy”) and the creative sector. The green economy includes business activities that benefit the environment or conserve natural resources. Ventura ranks 7th among California metro areas with green technology patents. For the foreseeable future, California laws and policies will continue to drive demand for these types of goods, services, and technologies. Demand will further increase as other states adopt similar standards that conserve natural resources, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and mitigate environmental impacts.
The types of industries built around creativity encompass a diverse range of categories, such as architecture, design, entertainment, fashion, communications, digital media, publishing, and the arts. This includes film and recording industries. Creative enterprises are highly concentrated in Southern California. Ventura County has distinct elements of the creative economy but has significant room for growth in this area.
1 Natelson-Dale Group. Task 3C Industry Cluster Report, Economic Vitality Plan, prepared for Ventura County. January 10, 2017. p. 5