ANTIOCH -- There's no "I" in jobs. That's the message that some business and civic leaders are taking in trying to bring new business to the East Contra Costa region.
As the housing-rich area looks toward future business opportunities, it must look at promoting itself as a region rather than individual cities, said Sean Wright, chief executive officer of the Antioch Chamber of Commerce.
"By looking at (job creation) regionally, it can make us stronger," Oakley City Manager Bryan Montgomery said. "The whole is greater than the sum of its parts."
For the past year, Wright and about three dozen business leaders and city officials throughout the region have been meeting to find ways to stimulate job growth and make the area more desirable to new nonretail business.
"So far it's been phenomenal, just to hear some of the things we can do on a regional basis," Wright said.
Garrett Evans, Pittsburg assistant city manager, said it's been beneficial for a group with a broader perspective to examine the issue.
"A lot of times (in cities) we're busy with our blinders on," he said. "People don't care what city the job is in, they just want jobs."
"The region is so small, relatively speaking, that anything positive in one city would certainly benefit the others," Montgomery said.
Meetings have included commercial brokers and consultants discussing what businesses are looking for and how the area is marketed, Wright said.
The constructive criticism and "honest assessment" from the business community is helpful, Evans said.
The collaborative effort continues next week with an economic summit at the Antioch Community Center.
Among the exercises at Thursday's event, called EC2 The Collaborative, is asking attendees to identify some of the area's strengths and weaknesses.
Stephen Baiter, executive director of the Contra Costa Workforce Development Board, says the summit's objective is to align around a common goal formed by community stakeholders.
"We're looking at what do we need to do to set the stage for success," he said.
The East Contra Costa area is behind all other East Bay regions when it comes to nonretail commercial development, according to a January report from the Workforce Development Board.
One thing going for East Contra Costa, officials say, is nearly a billion dollars in transportation improvements coming to the region in the next few years. Leaders throughout the region have said East Contra Costa is like a cul-de-sac.
"It's kind of serendipitous that we're looking at this now," said Mike McGill, vice chair of economic development for the Antioch chamber.
Also, the area already has some "clusters" of existing businesses that it can build upon and support, Wright said, including a corridor of power plants along Wilbur Avenue in Antioch and Oakley, manufacturing in Pittsburg, and vineyards and farms in Oakley and Brentwood.
Having more job opportunities in East Contra Costa cities would improve quality of life for residents who commute to areas such as San Francisco and the Silicon Valley for work, while boosting the local economy, Montgomery said. Millions of dollars are spent each year by local commuters in the communities where they work for gas, lunch and running errands, he said.
Contact Paul Burgarino at 925-779-7164. Follow him at Twitter.com/paulburgarino.
What: EC2 The Collaborative economic summit
When: 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Thursday
Where: Antioch Community Center, 4703 Lone Tree Way, Antioch
More details: Visit www.eastcontracosta.org