Bay Area group to determine stimulus projects

March 26, 2009 7:41:26 PM PDT
State of California will have access to $50 billion in stimulus money and work is already being done to determine how the money will be distributed. The state is asking each region to come up with a prioritized list.

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The Bay Area Council, a public policy advocacy group sponsored by some of the biggest businesses in the region, has been asked by the state to collect proposals, evaluate and rank them. The council has to act fast; the ranked list is due June 1, 2009.

The smart commuter train in Marin and Sonoma counties, an expansion of ferry service and stem cell research labs are all Bay Area projects that the Bay Area Council might expect to see on a list for stimulus money.

"We're working hard to make sure, it's not just a list of projects, it's a plan, it's a strategy," Bay Area Council member Sean Randolph said. Randolph is heading up the team compiling a list to help the state decide how to allocate the money. "We're trying to identify what are the big things that make this economy work well; a strong, educated work force, mobility, science and technology, a variety of things like that."

Randolph says the categories include transportation, water reliability and security, energy and climate, human capital or workforce training, business development, science and innovation and housing.

Virtually anyone can submit a proposal, with certain criteria.

"We'll have a template up on the Web in about a week that will be the process; there's the form you fill out, and when we receive the applications, we'll see what we have," Randolph said.

Randolph says all things green, like plug-in vehicle infrastructure, are likely candidates.

Berkeley Green Motors founder Marc Korchin says he might submit a proposal; he could employ 20 sales people right away, and he is worried plug-in infrastructure might get funding before plug-in car sales warrant it.

The priority list will be sent to Sacramento where funding decisions will ultimately be made. Experts helping to evaluate proposals are looking at quick job creation as well as long term job growth - jobs that will be there even after the stimulus dollars are gone.

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