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Op-Ed: Neighbors Push George Lucas Out When Marin Needs to Keep Working

What do you think about LucasFilm's decision to withdraw the Grady Ranch application?

There’s a dark cloud hiding behind Marin’s latest sunny economic news. 

The good news is that we continue to have the lowest unemployment rate in California.  But the inconvenient truth is that Marin needs to keep working. Unless we take steps now to maintain existing jobs and create or attract new ones, the consequences can be devastating:  Essential funding for public safety and other government services will be curtailed.  Our quality of life will decline. We will lose the competitive advantage we have with other counties.  Much of what we take for granted here will be called into question.  

Fortunately, we do have a foundation to build upon. More than 10,000 retail and export-oriented businesses now help sustain about 100,000 jobs. They, in turn, help drive the Marin economy and produce tax-generated income for county and local governments that provide a range of services on which we all depend.

But without that business-based foundation, we would lose our infrastructure, schools, roads, housing, parks, hospitals, cultural attractions and shopping centers.  The Marin we know and love would cease to exist without the jobs those businesses provide and the tens of millions of dollars in property, payroll and sales taxes they generate.  

The reality is that without the business community, most of us would not be able to live or work in the paradise we call Marin.  If those 10,000 companies disappeared tomorrow, very few of us who live here could afford to stay here.

If you think everyone understands the importance of jobs in Marin, then consider the recent opposition encountered by

Lucas has helped create thousands of jobs here and his various enterprises and their spin-offs have had a positive impact on the local economy. Yet there are those who would gladly push him out of Marin.  We can only imagine how often the phone was ringing at Skywalker Ranch with offers from around the country to put the Grady Ranch facility in their communities, with lots of incentives to boot.

In 2010, Marin Independent Journal reporter Nels Johnson wrote that the county’s 10,000 companies need help. “Despite a welter of chambers of commerce, trade associations, committees and other groups, the county's business community remains fragmented and lacks a key advocate.”

We disagree. The issues that face Marin are too important to rely on “a key advocate” for salvation.  Instead of auditioning for a soloist, we need a chorus – a chorus made up of those 10,000 businesses who already know what they need in order to survive or thrive in these challenging times.  Their voices are needed now to send a loud and clear message to decision makers about what is needed in order to keep Marin working.

To provide our business chorus with guidance, coordination and direction, we need a conductor. That’s why we formed the Keep Marin Working coalition. We represent thousands of employers and almost half of the workforce in the county. 

We have three primary goals: (1) Help connect the dots for those who do not realize that there is an obvious link between maintaining and creating jobs today and sustaining our quality of life tomorrow. (2) Share and use the collective expertise of the business community to help keep, attract and produce more jobs.  (3) Create awareness about what needs to be done, then advocate the steps to make it happen. For more information about us, go to  www.KeepMarinWorking.com.

Marin residents have a long and proud tradition of being activists on a wide range of issues, causes and concerns. Now it’s time for the local business community to organize, speak up, and take a stand.  The Keep Marin Working coalition will help ensure that the interests of the business community are heard and heeded in the days ahead. 

If we are successful, the entire community will benefit.  If we fail, everyone loses


Cynthia L. Murray, President and CEO, North Bay Leadership Council 
Klif Knoles, Executive Director, Marin Builders Assocation
Rick Wells, President and CEO, San Rafael Chamber of Commerce
Coy Smith, CEO, Novato Chamber of Commerce
Cecilia Zamora, President, Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and Latino Council
Edward Segal, CEO, Marin Assocation of REALTORS®

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