Ventura County Coalition of Labor, Agriculture and Business
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By: Matt Guthrie 

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It wasn’t your typical fall day at CoLAB’s 5th Annual Meeting, kicked off in front of the Camarillo Ranch House with cocktails and great conversation. Almost 200 members and guests gathered anticipating an infor­mational and entertaining evening.

Board Chairman John Hecht convened the meeting with a welcome and opening remarks. He spotlighted dignitaries, bene­factors and sponsors and welcomed newly elected board member Tony Skinner (IBEW Local 952). Chairman Hecht presented CoLAB’s most notable organizational ac­complishments over the last year including 22% growth in membership, 26% growth in annual revenues, our dedicated board members, increased diversity of members and the new WHEEL policy committee.

The Annual Meeting was a great opportu­nity to share this year’s success with our members who support us in so many ways. Executive Director Lynn Jensen recalled the “frustration with local regulations” as why we were formed. Five years later CoLAB has become a high power organization, moving policy on many issues around the county with respect to water, housing, energy, en­vironment and land use.

A key to our success this year, with the whirl­wind of projects and changing priorities, was the fortunate addition of Matt Guthrie to our staff as Development Director. New projects that CoLAB is focusing on include the County General Plan Update and SOAR ballot initiative. And, we are always repre­senting our members at public meetings, increasing outreach and influence, having quarterly meetings with Mike Powers, County CEO, and keeping our members in the loop with our monthly newsletter.

Our members were updated on the impend­ing SOAR ballot initiatives which intend to extend SOAR for 34 years until 2050. The ballot initiative is about preservation of the land, not about farming the land. Without farming, the land will be fallow and barren. CoLAB believes that the SOAR initiative needs to be amended to add language to support agriculture as a business. An AG Working Group was convened, has prepared recommended language and has also prepared an alternative ballot initiative to challenge SOAR if necessary.

CoLAB’s hard working President, Bud Sloan updated the crowd on the VC COLAB Foundation, announcing that we are over halfway to our match fund goal of $100,000! With support from our donors, the Founda­tion has been elevated to the next level, allowing for education and research to be supported through charitable donations.

The Circle the Wagons Educational Series has been a great opportunity for members and guests to engage with speakers covering a vast range of topics.

In addition, the Foundation provided seed funding and acts as fiscal sponsor for the dynamic new education campaign, “Treasure Our Farms”. Bonnie Atmore gave the audience an inside perspective on what would happen if our farms and ranches dis­appeared.

Treasure Our farms is an education ini­tiative designed to engage and inform our local community about the value and beauty of agriculture and farming in ventura county. The campaign will act as an informational “hub” to share stories, facts and videos with the community. For more information and to contribute to this vital educational campaign please visit the Treasure Our Farms website.




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