Published in the July 5 – July 18, 2017 issue of Morgan Hill Life

By John Horner

John Horner

For several years now the Morgan Hill Chamber of Commerce has been emphasizing the importance of growing Morgan Hill’s job base in order to catch up with and then keep pace with our residential growth. The high priority of this effort is now widely understood, accepted and embraced.

The big question on the table now is: How does the community do this? The city of Morgan Hill’s recently completed Economic Development Blueprint is a big step forward in this effort, and much remains to be done.
In recent years the vast majority of vacant jobs supporting buildings have been sold and/or leased to end users. This is both a great thing and a challenge.

The challenge is that further job growth requires significant new construction, and new construction is both expensive and time consuming. One major project under way is modernization of Morgan Hill’s zoning code to better support the way growing businesses operate today. The challenges include providing more use flexibility and better access to supporting services such as restaurants and transportation. Automobile centric development is no longer considered desirable, but the current reality is that much of our present way of doing things still relies on cars and trucks.

Today’s big buzzwords are mixed use, but traditional zoning codes have typically pushed differing land uses apart rather than mixing them up together.

Morgan Hill’s downtown area has pushed aggressively toward mixed use with great success. Now the question is how to carry that success on throughout the Monterey Road corridor and beyond. The Chamber of Commerce is working closely with the city of Morgan Hill and other stakeholders to flesh out ideas for how the rules of the game (zoning) can better align with our community’s needs going forward.

We are also supporting of the city-led effort to develop and maintain a new website focused on Morgan Hill as a place to locate and grow great businesses. Telling the story of Morgan Hill’s vibrant and diverse business community, amazing quality of life and outstanding amenities is an important task which deserves concentrated effort. This project is going to take time and money, and it is worth it.

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In the long term we need to be building jobs at a rate at least equal to the rate at which we add residents and that isn’t going to happen without sustained effort.

Additionally, it is clear that better broadband access options are vital to supporting our existing growing businesses and attracting new ones. Fortunately, there are multiple, credible entrepreneurial efforts going on in addition to the services provided by Frontier and Charter. Stay tuned for more announcements as these efforts bear fruit in the months and years ahead.

Thank you for your interest in Morgan Hill, and feel free to send an email to us (info@morganhill.org) if you have ideas to share.

John Horner is the president/CEO of the Morgan Hill Chamber of Commerce. He can be reached at 408) 779-9444 or at john@morganhill.org.