A comprehensive economic study of Santa Cruz County has been proposed by a group of Patagonia residents representing the nonprofit, business and public sectors. With a goal of building a more inclusive and sustainable local economy centered around nature-based and human assets, the group has defined the first step of the process to be gathering an accurate description of the drivers of the local economy to establish a baseline, project targets for future economic growth, and provide basic metrics to chart progress. 

The Santa Cruz County Economic Study will include all the traditional economic sectors and will also include sectors and subsectors within the restorative economy that have not been well documented. Included within the broad category of the restorative economy are tourism that builds on cultural, historic, and nature-based resources; ranching; farming, including the burgeoning wine industry, and efforts to grow and distribute healthy foods locally; educational programs that prepare people to thrive in the local economy; restoration services that conserve water, restore habitat for native plants and animals, reuse and recycle waste, and expand the sequestration of carbon. The common factors of a restorative economy are that they support sustainable jobs, keep local the income generated, preserve and enhance a region’s assets, and can slow, rather than accelerate, the impacts of climate change. 

The group leading the effort to procure a baseline economic study for Santa Cruz County is currently refining the process to select a consultant, expanding the list of endorsers of the study (over 20 businesses and organizations so far), raising money to pay for the study, and identifying an administrative organization to manage the funds and contract with the selected consultant team. 

The goal is to provide reliable economic information to guide decision makers in the business, government, and nonprofit sectors who will collectively be the engines of the future local economy. The study is expected to be completed before the end of 2021. For more information, contact Chuck Klingenstein at patagonia.planner1@gmail.com