September 02, 2010 8:57 AM
DAVID KECK, Special to the Daily Press

VICTORVILLE • Even through a seemingly endless haze of dreary economic statistics, the High Desert’s top county representative came through with one clear conviction.

There is a better future for the region, Brad Mitzelfelt said, and businesses and government agencies here need to be ready for it.

“There is no bigger cheerleader for the High Desert than me,” the San Bernardino County 1st District Supervisor said at his State of the County address in front of hundreds of guests at the Victorville Chamber of Commerce Morning Insight breakfast at the Victorville Conference Center on Wednesday.

Then Mitzelfelt reeled off a laundry list of economic woes that have so acutely affected both business and government since the Great Recession began in late 2007.

The supervisor noted that the county’s unemployment rate has hovered near record highs of about 15 percent, edging over 20 percent in some parts of the Victor Valley.

Property tax revenue for the county dropped 10 percent since the 2007-08 fiscal year, with sales taxes falling 20 percent during the same period. The drop in revenue finally hit the county with job losses this fiscal year, Mitzelfelt said, with more than 500 positions cut and 85 actual employees laid off.

“We’ve had to do more with less and that’s been a challenge,” Mitzelfelt said. “Just like any business or family in this economy you have to do with less.”

Despite the dark data, not all was doom and gloom.

Mitzelfelt hailed the county’s Workforce Investment Board, which he said has assisted more than 1,000 businesses in the region and trained hundreds of displaced workers for new careers. He touched on infrastructure improvements like the Yucca Loma Bridge project that will connect Apple Valley to Victorville and the new Jerry Lewis High Desert Government Center in Hesperia.

To read more of what Mitzelfelt said, see the full story in Thursday’s Daily Press. To subscribe to the Daily Press in print or online, call (760) 241-7755, 1-800-553-2006 or click here.