Union Democrat staff

Tuolumne County earned praise and a few helpful tips from a statewide panel that analyzed the region's economic development over the past four years.

The California Association of Local Economic Development issued its final report this month after giving its preliminary assessment during a conference in January. The report looked at various indicators of economic development in the county and Sonora, such as commercial and industrial revitalization, promotion, cutting red tape, infrastructure and the use of the region's natural and recreational resources.

More than 50 business and civic leaders gathered for a Sonora Area

Foundation-sponsored forum in January. Advisers said the county should

focus on improving infrastructure with electrical and water projects

and bringing better Internet connectivity to the region.

"We observed that Tuolumne County has made extraordinary progress

in economic development. The city and the county are delivering 'state

of the art' economic development services to the community through the

(Tuolumne County Economic Development Authority) and individually and

there are many economic 'success' stories to celebrate," the CALED

report stated. "However, continued efforts are required to assure

economic vitality for the community into the future."

In 2008, the Board of Supervisors and the Sonora City Council

agreed on a Joint Powers Agreement to establish the TCEDA. The CALED

report was designed to analyse how the JPA has progressed in the

intervening years. The report focused on revitalizing the local economy

by increasing community support and securing funding for the newly

formed TCEDA.

CALED also said that certain county owned assets would be best

utilized if they were put in the hands of private business. The report

mentioned contracting the former Jamestown mine properties to Yosemite

Gardens Park, Inc., as well as the sale of the Mother Lode Medical

Building and Sullivan Creek property off Mono Way.

The group praised local government officials for cutting red tape and making it easier for businesses to develop.

"The county has achieved tremendous success in developing 'business friendly' and streamlined development processes.

The full report can be viewed by visiting the TCEDA website at www.tceda.net.