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Stanislaus 2030 project receives $1.3M boost for childcare program, economic development
Stanislaus 2030

The Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously at its Tuesday meeting to allocate $1.3 million for the next phase of the Stanislaus 2030 project.

The county will negotiate a three-year term with the Stanislaus Community Foundation to serve as the lead agency for the 2030 project, which looks to bolster economic development in the region.

Of the $1.3 million, $700,000 will establish the initial program support and the remaining $600,000 will fund the formation and operations of the Stanislaus Intermediary Organization.

“We spent the better part of a year analyzing our local economy and trying to brainstorm with the best minds we could, within the community as well as outside, to position ourselves for a more robust and equitable economy for future generations,” said Stanislaus County CEO Jody Hayes. “These are long-term considerations. They may have some short-term wins, but we’re very, very focused on long-term investment and long-term strategic economic impact here in Stanislaus County.”

Amanda Hughes, the chief strategy officer at the Stanislaus Community Foundation, will be the point person for foundation’s efforts.

“We are really encouraged by the Board of Supervisors’ support, in partnership with the Stanislaus Community Foundation, to really create the conditions necessary for collaboration at the population level,” said Marian Kaanan, CEO of the Stanislaus Community Foundation. “To do that, we need a quarterback and (Amanda) is uniquely qualified to do this type of work.”

In May of 2021, the Board approved a prioritized list of spending strategies for the $107 million it received in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds. Of that $107 million, $30 million was earmarked for economic development and job creation.

According to the Stanislaus 2030 Investment Blueprint, a 55-page deep dive into county economics prepared by diverse local workgroups with advisors from the Brookings Institution, more than half of the county’s population — about 214,000 people — struggle to make ends meet.

Only about 13 percent of jobs in the Stanislaus can be classified as “good” jobs, while another 22 percent are considered “promising.” The remaining 65 percent — nearly two of every three jobs — fail to meet the standards for ensuring self-sufficiency, the report states.

And this directly affects children in the county.

“We have about 145,000 children in Stanislaus County and 90,000 are growing up in struggling households,” Hayes said during Tuesday’s meeting. “But the number that really popped out for us was 85 percent of those children have at least one adult working in the home. So, we’re not talking about struggling families where people aren’t working, we’re talking about working families and the struggles they’re facing in today’s economy.”

To halve the number of children in struggling circumstances, the region will need to create 40,000 more “good” jobs than currently exist.

Up to $200,000 of the funds approved Tuesday will be used for child-care programs, allowing adults who seek further job training the ability to afford child-care services.

“In addition to workforce training, we must pay special attention to non-training barriers to enter the workforce and training programs,” Hughes told the board Tuesday. “Through our work with Stanislaus 2030, and this is not a big shocker, child care is a major barrier for us. Child care is so fundamentally important for economic prosperity.”

Hughes pointed out that in order to meet current workforce demands, the county needs 36,000 more child care slots than currently exist — pre-COVID numbers that are likely higher today, some three years after the start of the pandemic.