At its City Council meeting on May 27, the City of Nevada City will introduce and discuss “NC Forward,” a new 5-point plan to promote Nevada City’s economic vitality. The Council will be asked to either approve implementation of the plan or incorporate comments and schedule approval at the next meeting.
“NCForward” is an impressive and well-conceived plan, and I spent about two hours with new city manager Mark Prestwich discussing the plan in detail. One example: Now that the NCERC has won a $500K grant to pursue a digital media campus, Nevada City is poised to help execute the initiative.
The city’s strategy embraces the digital media project, and the Tech Center — as it should be — is a leading candidate for the digital media campus. It is within walking distance to a historic, vibrant downtown and has the tech infrastructure needed for such a campus.
I also look for Nevada City to collaborate more closely with the County, thanks to its “NC Forward” strategy — sometimes a source of friction in the past.
In closely reviewing this plan, it is clear that Nevada City has come a long way since its darkest hour: the 2006-2007 Nevada County Grand Jury’s infamous “Asleep at the Wheel” report, which claimed deficiencies in city management practices. Details are here and here. Out of sheer curiosity, I used to keep that document on my coffee table, along with some other more uplifting books and magazines.
Since then Nevada City has “grown up” a lot more. City management has been significantly improved, and it has beefed up its city finance expertise. It also is paying down a loan with the County. Nevada City also has embraced high-profile, tourism-related events such as the Amgen Tour of California and Wild & Scenic Film Festival, and it has won some deserved “best small town” honors.
To be sure, there will be challenges ahead. Locals will likely be expected to support some sales tax increases, such as the one the keep the Nevada City firehouse open and fully staffed next June. They also will have to agree to work with local and state government groups and put aside the provincial “Grass Valley vs. Nevada City” rivalry. But a strategy such as “NC Forward” is a real hopeful sign.
Prestwich was a good hire — and could wind up being Nevada City’s best city manager of its modern era. He “gets it,” as we like to say, shows a willingness to collaborate and has quickly identified the city’s strengths and weaknesses. A copy of the 17- page document “NC Forward” is here. (Scroll down to “NC Forward.”) I encourage locals to read it. The implementation begins in 2015 and extends well into the future.
“NCForward” stems from a strategic planning retreat to discuss 3-year goals and 12-month strategic objectives for the city.
I will point to it in more detail in future blog posts, but here’s an overview. The proof of “NCForward” will be in its execution, but it is a great start. The strategy includes:
1. Enhance the city’s public infrastructure
2. Promote catalyst project sites and investment opportunities
3. Create business and digital friendly city services
4. Implement community-driven citizen engagement
5. Support NCERC macro-level economic development efforts