Our View: Vision 20/20 isn’t only route to economic future

July 30, 2018

When unemployment is low and jobs are plentiful, as they are now, it’s tempting to think good times will last forever. It’s easy to gloss over some fundamental weaknesses in the local economy and put aside the quest for a strong future for Lake Havasu City.

Vision 20/20 provided a map to a future Lake Havasu City in which younger, educated and skilled people replace an aging workforce and create employment in a new, lucrative economy. Lake Havasu City won more than $2 million in a national economic development contest for this concept.

The program is in a lull right now, causing even some of the 200 people who worked on its creation to remember little more than the contest win.

The lack of visible progress is for reasons both good and bad. City government is the major player in Vision 20/20 right now, and it’s hedging many of its financial bets until the Prop. 409 spending initiative is decided in late August. That’s understandable.

Other factors include somewhat-predictable delays in the Havasu Riviera/Arizona State Parks partnership to create new mainland boat launch ramps and a marina, testing of plans for a downtown public/private park and private development and modifying other concepts to fit reality.

Make no mistake, efforts in the pillars of Vison 20/20 continue, including progress with education and workforce development, tourism, water, economic development and even community engagement are happening.

A lot of the work isn’t visible, though, raising questions about whether Vision 20/20 hasn’t become one of those much-vilified programs gathering dust on a bookshelf. It isn’t, but the progress isn’t easy to see.

Of the many possible futures for Lake Havasu City contemplated by Vision 20/20, only one is certain: As baby boomers retire, a huge part of the work force will disappear. If nothing is done, our city will join the legions of other rural communities left behind in a growing economy.

Our city relies heavily on tourism and construction. Those areas are doing well now, riding a mini-boom that drives unemployment low. It’s a bad time to feel fat, dumb and happy, though, as both of these economic mainstays are fickle.

Vision 20/20 must be aggressively pursued. So must other economic options, especially recruitment of the many businesses that leave California for Arizona, skipping over the western area to head straight to Phoenix.

Progress on Vision 20/20 should be communicated sooner rather than later. It’s a good concept that needs a leap to reality.

At the same time, the benefits of a low-cost, business-friendly environment in Lake Havasu City must be marketed to the thousands of businesses in California that would love to have those things.

Vision 20/20 is more than a contest. It’s the future. So is this city’s role in the ABC — Anywhere But California — movement.

Good times offer the best chance for making the short-term future even better.

— Today’s News-Herald

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