By Clay Duda, Redding Record Searchlight

The Redding area economy is on the upswing, and a number of factors may contribute to its continued growth, Shasta County supervisors heard at their Tuesday meeting.

Unemployment has shrunk more than 7 percent since 2010, and local manufacturers are booming to a point that some companies are now having trouble filling vacancies for skilled employees, Mark Lascelles of the Shasta County Economic Development
Corp. told the board.

“We’ve actually reached a point where we’re running out of qualified employees,” he said. “It’s interesting how quick it has happened. A year or two ago we thought it would be two or three years before we had labor issues, but we’re already
seeing it.”

Part of the shortage stemmed from years of economic stagnation, he said, when many skilled laborers may have left the local job market in search of work. But today it is also indicative of a larger, positive trend of economic recovery in
the North State. During the same time period unemployment fell from 17.5 to 10 percent, Shasta County manufacturing rose nearly 14 percent, he said.

County supervisors commended Lascelles for shifting the focus of the EDC, targeting niche areas well suited for the local workforce as well as companies already doing business in the state that may be looking to relocate.

“You’ve taken a model that was stagnant 10 years ago and said, ‘You know what, let’s look at what we’re doing, how we do it, how we present ourselves and how we sell our community,’” supervisor Leonard Moty said after the presentation. “Hats
off to you and your board members.”

But some challenges remain, Lascelles acknowledged, including Redding’s limited airline service.

“Every day we miss out on companies coming to this area because we don’t have airline access to it,” he said.

Lascelles said Redding needed direct flights to Silicon Valley and Los Angeles for continued growth in technology and other sectors. He predicted an agreement was likely within the next year.