Join our Focus Groups in Creating a Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS)

Robert Eyler, Ph.D

Since the middle of 2013, Marin Economic Forum has been considering a change to Marin County’s targeted industries that were established in 2004. Such industries are groups of businesses that set Marin County apart in terms of economic opportunity, providing relief to social inequities and also reducing harm to the environment. MEF’s reconsideration of these industries will be finalized in a document called a Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy or CEDS document. Formally, this document is used by the federal government when local applications for infrastructure grants and other assistance come to Washington D.C. The CEDS describes the local economy in the recent past, now, and in the future such that a federal grant reviewer can understand the context in which new infrastructure dollars would support the local economy. Specific areas of concerns, need and stress are identified through both data analyses and focus groups. 

Input from Marin County’s community is important for this study. The focus groups are meant to provide our analysis with more qualitative data and strategic planning goals than simply looking at data and making conclusions. These discussions are meant to find common goals and not simply identify areas of concern. It is important that the focus groups truly “focus” on what is feasible and what federal infrastructure funding coming to Marin County may help to achieve. Please go to for more information on how to participate in these groups and the topic areas.

In short, these focus groups will be assembled around these topic areas between December 2014 and March 2015:

  • Housing and Transportation;
  • Education and Workforce Development;
  • Social Safety Net;
  • Broadband Access;
  • Natural Resources; and
  • Tourism

Some of the discussion in these groups will look at how businesses and communities can come together to help achieve goals set for each of these areas. Further, social media will provide forums for conversations after each of the initial focus group meetings to expand the focus groups to a broader audience and reduce the need to assemble larger groups or multiple events.

One of these areas to note is on natural resources. This group will be concerned about land use, environmental concerns and other issues. However, it will also link to the social safety net in terms of food security and agriculture. Agriculture was called out as one of five “targeted” industries and linked with tourism at the time because Marin County has agricultural businesses and natural beauty in West Marin that may draw export opportunities for both. This is a topic for how land use becomes a way for more tourism to take place sustainably. How can we combine Marin County as a place where people both come and pass through to other tourism areas and help sustain land use in agriculture simultaneously?  Would federal infrastructure dollars help support those common goals?

Please participate in these groups. The groups are beyond the analysis of targeted industries, much of which is already completed. The groups are about the nexus of people, place, government, and markets, all of which will needs to support all industries in Marin County, regardless of their being targeted or not.