Editor's note: Every month, we give our visiting editors the opportunity to write a small editorial on a subject of their choice. It is an optional part of their three-month experience on our editorial board.
As a region, we have a responsibility to support our agricultural industry. It should always be the pre-eminent economic focus of our local governments.
However, we must understand that diversifying and modernizing our local economy does not have to take away from our responsibility to feed the nation. The city of Modesto, as well as Stanislaus County, can encourage development of growing industries through incentives, because such growth does not just happen, it must be cultivated.
Some may be reticent to take on an endeavor such as this, thinking it will distract from our heritage industry some may see it as fool's gold.
We have to be willing to accept the idea that a new technology sector, whether it is focused on telecommunications, IT, new media or even biotechnology, is not fool's gold. The most important issue for industries such as this is acquiring talent. Thanks to the recession, that is something we have now more than ever.
Many young college graduates have returned home and are underemployed or unemployed, and they are smart enough to figure out that other more diversified local economies have the careers they want. In addition to our talent pool, we provide the opportunity for much lower operating costs, including cheaper power, rent and overall cost of living.
A new technology sector would not hurt our agricultural industry. We do not need to destroy precious farmland to build out; we can build up, in areas such as downtown Modesto. Newer, more modern industries are low impact, and would not require the diversion of local resources.
Diversifying and, more importantly, strengthening our local economy is an attainable goal that we as a community should take on. I hope the Modesto City Council and the Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors are willing to take the steps necessary to move us forward.
Riddle, of Modesto, is a senior analyst at MCOL, a publisher of health care business information.