11/05/2013 12:31 pm ET Updated Jan 23, 2014

How a Small Regional Economic Agency Is Creating Jobs Through Technology

This Friday, Nov. 1, 2013, the Coachella Valley Economic Partnership (CVEP) held its annual meeting to discuss the state of our economy for the past year and to forecast what the next year might look like. This year's title was "CVEP Healthy Progress Update." Like all regional quasi-government organizations, it focuses on the big picture, an overview of past years and some prognostications for the next; all to help guide businesses and individuals to make correct planning decisions. We are fortunate that in our small market we have some world-class players that are here, doing research and business that creates jobs and a strong base for building more. The health care industry is a leading area for growth and we have two major health institutes that are home grown, Desert Regional Health Centers and JFK Memorial Hospital. Add to those leaders The Clinton Foundation Healthier Families with partner Humana Health Insurance who came to our valley this past year to launch a National program to discover how to help heal our nation by teaching to live a healthier lifestyle and understand the new Affordable Healthcare Bill.

We learned that a strong growing educational system that begins at the elementary school level and continues through higher education, with both campuses at State and University levels of learning that augment our community college system helps fuel educated employees from the local pool. The focus here is to educate our young with skills that get them employed. To that goal, six out of the 13 high schools in the valley have strong programs that teach technology, health care and media arts so that students can be prepared right out of 12th grade to start on the path to high-paying jobs in the technology and health care fields, all which are fast growing and high paying. Since 2009, CVEP has produced 1,550+ college scholarships awarded to local students for a total of $7.6 million. CVEP's Workforce Excellence program is recognized as a national "best practice."

Bringing health care and education together The Desert Health District has agreed to fund the Health and Innovation Center at the Palm Springs accelerator campus part of a master plan began a few years ago under CVEP's guidance. This exciting program just confirms that the Innovation Hub/Accelerator has been so important to the growth our business industry, since technology is at its core. Out of the 16 iHubs in Californian our Coachella Valley iHub is recognized for its "best practice." And recognized as one the best incubator programs in the country and could be used as a model to use technology to grow jobs

Another strong business growth potential which is heavily weighted on technology but highly fragmented is the Arts and Entertainment industry. The Art's Oasis part of CVEP researched the entire area of Coachella Valley to discover that the percentage of residents in our valley employed in the Arts and Entertainment industry was second in employment only to the Hospitality industry and more than Healthcare. The difficulty they found in getting this sector the proper attention was that most of these participants are single proprietors so they don't employee many outside staff, but they do create a great deal of revenue from sales and tourists who visit our area and spend money. The film and television business has begun to grow past its infancy, with an iHub company creating computer driven characters for Hollywood companies, another local based business, also iHub now producing three shows for broadcast on PBS, and more on the way, a film company supported by CVEP has produced a number of "B" movies that have received national distribution, again most of these businesses would not exist without technology either using it, creating with it, or inventing it.