It is imperative for businesses, community organizations, and government to work with one another in a weak economic climate to build a strong regional economy.
The health of our local economy depends on all of us supporting and patronizing the businesses and industries within our region. In the case of Bonsall Union School District, a different purchasing decision on its part could have had a strong positive impact on our business community. The district’s purchasing of solar solutions from a company 600 miles away does not do anything positive for our local economy.
In a challenging economic climate, a business’s growth often depends more and more on the growth of the regional business community, and less on national or international economies. It is one of the big reasons major companies dedicate funds to infrastructure and economic development projects in their communities.
In San Diego, companies like Qualcomm Inc, Sony, Northrop Grumman, and General Atomics depend on developing clusters of supporting businesses, creating networks that ensure growth for all parties involved.
A Puzzling Choice
With that in mind, it is puzzling to see a school district, a pillar in the community, make purchases that take support away from San Diego businesses. This spring, Bonsall Union School District forged a power purchase agreement, a PPA, with a Sacramento-based solar manufacturer to supply a $5.5 million solar project to lower the school district’s operating costs. While it should be commended that the district is investing in alternative energy sources and reducing its costs, it is hard to fathom why the district chose a company so far away when San Diego is a hotbed for solar manufacturing.
Nearly every solar developer of scale in San Diego offers PPA programs identical to the one Bonsall Union School District is utilizing. It is logical in tough times to find ways to reduce operating costs, but not at the expense of your community. The PPA, which includes two solar lots and a solar covered parking structure, could have been a direct injection of revenue into an industry that many predict could have the biggest economic impact on the region and provide many additional jobs for area residents.
Create Win-Win Situations
Partnering with a local solar developer would have been a win-win situation for all involved. Not only would Bonsall Union School District benefit contracting with a local manufacturer/developer, but the regional economy would have gained from those funds being spent locally. Instead, iecRenewables in Sacramento will receive 85 percent or $280,500 of the school district’s annual budget for electricity, according to an article in the North County Times.
From a chamber of commerce perspective, it is easy to see the impact, but it is imperative that all San Diegans recognize the importance of supporting the local economy. More importantly, San Diegans must want to support each other. Simple research into local options and a desire to support the community can lead to a substantial benefit to the region’s businesses, population and the overall economy.
Debra Rosen is president and CEO, of San Diego North Chamber of Commerce.