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Group Hopes to Lure Computer Firms to County


Scrambling to lure new industry to Ventura County, government and business leaders announced Wednesday a joint effort to attract fledgling computer companies to the area.

Supervisor John K. Flynn and other local representatives hope to begin tapping into the high-tech market next month when they set up a booth at an international computer conference in Atlanta.

"We want to talk about the business climate here and talk about what a nice place it is to live," Flynn said. "We want to do everything we can to attract new businesses to Ventura County."

Spurred by Abex Aerospace's decision to close its Oxnard plant, Flynn and others said they have been looking for ways to draw new industry to the area, particularly those companies with skilled, high-paying jobs. He said there is a critical need to replace the jobs that have been lost at Abex and other struggling companies in recent years.

To that end, politicians and business executives have forged a public-private partnership aimed at talking up the benefits of doing business in Ventura County.

"We will show them the beauty of living here," Flynn said of prospective recruits. "And we will emphasize that business and government are working together like never before."

While members of the newly formed group hope to lure a wide range of new businesses, their first target will be small, rapidly growing computer firms looking for a place to set up shop.

Local representatives next month will attend the COMDEX computer fair, billed as the world's largest gathering of computer enthusiasts.

The delegation will carry brochures, graphics displays and videos touting the beauty of the ocean and local mountain ranges.

And representatives will talk about a new, business-friendly environment that they say is unfolding as the need to lure industry becomes more critical.

"If they will come here, we will walk them through the permit process," Flynn said. "Our job will be to sell Ventura County."

Flynn and the other area boosters who attend the conference will pay for their own air fare and hotel.

The $8,000 cost for setting up the county's booth will be divided between public and private contributors, including $2,000 from the city of Oxnard and $2,500 from Oxnard-based developer Martin V. Smith.

Others participating in the new effort include the Ventura County Economic Development Assn. and the Ventura County Contractors' Assn.

Dick Spencer, who represents Martin V. Smith and Associates, said all businesses in the county will benefit from this effort.

"Without a good business environment, our business doesn't work well," Spencer said. "We just can't sit back and discuss what the problems are. We need to do something about them."

The joint effort is similar to one announced last week by local executives and politicians. Dozens have banded together to form the Red Team, a self-declared strike force dedicated to selling Ventura County.

The Red Team's first target is Mercedes-Benz. The German auto maker recently announced plans to build a $300-million manufacturing plant in the United States that will bring with it 6,500 jobs.

Flynn said the Red Team's efforts do not conflict with what his group is trying to do.

"The more red teams and blues teams we have, the better it is for Ventura County," he said.

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