Bill Carney just returned to his native Orange County and is astonished at the dynamic economy. As the new vice president for business retention and economic development at the Orange County Business Council, his job will be to find ways to encourage new businesses, lower barriers to economic growth, and generally keep the county an attractive place in which to operate.
Carney previously served as the statewide chairman of the California Assn. for Local Economic Development and as executive director of the Stanislaus County Economic Development Corp. He started his new job last month.
Orange County is "incredibly more complex than when I left here 30 years ago," he said. "When I was living here, South County was really still pretty much open land. The general success of the economy now, in relation to where it was a couple of years ago, is absolutely remarkable."
He sees the county continuing to grow on the strength of its twin pillars: high-tech and tourism. High costs will still be an obstacle, he conceded, and businesses are very concerned about education and their ability to find enough skilled workers.
His role will be to address these issues and help lay the groundwork for continued growth, he said. "There's such curb appeal to Orange County, in everything from the amusement parks to the beaches," he said. "I'm looking forward to getting up on top of the learning curve and helping to sustain this really incredible momentum."
Patrice Apodaca covers economic issues for The Times. She can be reached at (714) 966-5979 and at firstname.lastname@example.org.