Plumas is a beautiful place to live, but a hard place to work. With an unemployment rate of 10.4 percent, we desperately need an economic boost to deliver jobs.
I’m new to Plumas. I moved up a year ago and have been renovating the Crescent Hotel and Store in Crescent Mills. People often ask me why I am investing my life savings in Plumas given the economic situation. I think the gloom about the economy is oversold and I’m optimistic we will see a significant economic revival over the next five years due to new technologies and crops.
The three biggest factors are:
1) Self-Driving Cars (Tourism)
Plumas is 4.5 hours from San Francisco, Tahoe is 3.5 hours. It’s exhausting to drive so far and that extra hour makes a huge difference when tourists plan their vacation. But from 2018, self-driving cars will be available and from 2022, all vehicle makers will offer this feature, and by 2025, the majority of cars will have this feature. Self-driving means you can kick-back, take a snooze and catch up on Facebook as you zip up the 70. The extra hour will be an extra hour of relaxing, and so not a problem at all. This will make Plumas much more accessible and bring a big boost to tourism.
2) The Sharing Economy (Tourism)
The internet allows owners to share and rent out their assets easily. For example, AirBnB (a play on air-bed and breakfast) started in 2007 and now books more nights than any hotel chain in the world, all without owning a single room.AirBnB allows property owners to make a few bucks by renting out rooms to tourists. It’s already very popular with more than 50 rooms and cottages available across Plumas. This could easily expand to 100 or 200 spaces across the county.
This model of renting assets to others will expand as we learn to cash in on that bedroom or extra car. There are plenty of spare bedrooms in Plumas and the unlocking of this value will provide cash to the residents and boost the number of visitors to our restaurants and events.
3) Commercial Cannabis (Ag jobs)
Legal cannabis is the U.S.’ fastest growing industry and offers a unique opportunity to California’s rural, agricultural counties.
Plumas will never be huge in the world of cannabis. Much of the land is protected forest and the high elevation delivers a short growing season. In addition, Plumas is far from major markets and growers may find it hard to complete with more established areas like Humboldt and Mendocino.
Yet, even with these challenges, commercial cannabis could provide a boost to local agriculture. Assuming the State and County establish reasonable regulations and investment is available, Plumas could easily host 30 commercial greenhouses. With five jobs per greenhouse, these 150 legal, well-paying jobs could make a big dent in the unemployment rate.
In summary, Plumas is poised for an economic revival. New technology and changes in regulation provide opportunities for growth.
But we have to want it. None of these three factors require government investment, but each need the support and understanding of the community and a certain degree of regulation to keep everyone happy and safe.
Please be optimistic and supportive as these opportunities develop and don’t forget to wave when you see your first self-driving car.