ERC Board Meeting Impressions

Russ Steele

It was a packed house this morning at the ERC Board Meeting at the Realtor Association Conference Room. Many came to hear David Wood of Ensemble Design and Dan Castles of Telestream to talk about their companies successes and what the future looks like for their companies in Nevada County.  There was also a preliminary report on the Business Survey distributed last month. There was a 9% response to the survey which is a very good response. Typical surveys garner 2-3%.

David Woods sees a growing market for his video distribution products as the demand for real time videos increases on computers, tablets and smartphones around the world.  The more use by the military and science expeditions have also expanded the market.

Dan Castles is planing to grow his company at 30% a year, however most of the growth will not come in Nevada County. Dan sees most of this growth coming from acquisitions. Telestream has open an engineering design office in Emeryville, near the new bay bridge. It is easier to hire young engineers, in the bay area where there is some night life and the possibility of a date. Population diversity in Emeryville is also a plus when hiring, with large India and Asian communities.  Many Telestream employees live in Roseville and commute to Nevada County. I often wondered who was driving up SR-49 every weekday morning, when I am heading to a early morning doctors appointment.

Dan also introduced and interesting issue, and that is the local acceptance of Nevada County’s “growing season.” While many local citizens accept the local marijuana culture, it is very difficult to recruit families with children, especially after reading the Union for several months according to Dan. While many locals have grown immune to the issue of  backyard marijuana, there are many outside of Nevada County that have not.  They just do not understand “its just Nevada County.”

One Board Member suggested that additional drug testing by companies would help solve the problem, but Dan said if he instituted drug testing at Telestream, it would cause a riot.  I find that a bit troubling, Dan is seeking a solution to the drug culture, but wants someone else to solve the problem.

I would like to show you the survey results, but the ERC’s new webpage is not complete and analysis is still underway.  The business issue with the highest dissatisfaction was the lack of business grade broadband infrastructure.  The second was “Other-please specify.”  According the comments it was the lack of business friendliness.  By the August Board Meeting, the committee supervising the survey expects to have a more detailed analysis of the 176 responses.  Some people responding were not business owners, but interested parties.

Both Dan Castles and David Woods said that the tech companies were banding together to help the schools, as good schools were important recruiting their recruiting efforts. Marianne Cartan spoke up and said she would like to see more business involvement in the High School to develop the student skills they needed. She noted that ROP had just converted their wood shop to an engineering design lab.  There seems to be an opportunity here for more cooperation, but efforts in the past have been rebuffed by the Teacher Union. Obviously an area for more detailed analysis.

There are my impressions from sitting through the meeting and my incomplete notes. If I have made an error please note in the comments and I will make the correction.  I am please to see more action by board members and larger attendance at the board meetings. It appears that Jon Blinder has energized the community by making the meetings less process and more informative.

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About Russ Steele
Freelance writer and climate change blogger. Russ spent twenty years in the Air Force as a navigator specializing in electronics warfare and digital systems. After his service he was employed for sixteen years as concept developer for TRW, an aerospace and automotive company, and then was CEO of a non-profit Internet provider for 18 months. Russ's articles have appeared in Comstock's Business, Capitol Journal, Trailer Life, Monitoring Times, and Idaho Magazine.

One Response to ERC Board Meeting Impressions

  1. “Dan said if he instituted drug testing at Telestream, it would cause a riot. I find that a bit troubling, Dan is seeking a solution to the drug culture, but wants someone else to solve the problem.”

    Good for Dan Castles. Pissing into a sample jar on command is dehumanizing, not at all related to engineering productivity and if any of his employees had a drug problem, including alcohol abuse, it would show up in other ways.

    In short, the folks growing Telestream aren’t the drug problem and having them piss on command isn’t a solution. Outside of preemployment screens (which are far from universal), random drug testing is unheard of in tech or just about any category outside of transportation

    In local education, lack of “engineering design labs” in the local high schools isn’t the biggest problem; lack of a solid K-8 preparation is. Some of the local elementary schools and districts are excellent while others are horrible. What are we prepared to do about it?

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