Raissa De La Rosa finds that her job title with the City of Santa Rosa isn't as readily understood as some, like “Mayor” or “Police Chief.” Those are ones we all know.
But what, exactly, does the “Economic Development Specialist” do?
In an economy that has cities cutting costs, she doesn't have financial aid to offer so much as advice, encouragement and ideas.
“It's creating links and connecting dots where people don't normally see them,” De La Rosa said. “It takes strategy and vision, which I think this city has.”
The most visible idea that De La Rosa has helped bring to life, since she came to work for the City of Santa Rosa in 2005, is the Amgen Tour of California bicycle race, now a world-class event.
“The very second day that I started here, somebody handed me a piece of paper and said, ‘There's this meeting tomorrow which, by the way, you will be running. It's for this Tour of California. We need you to find out what it is, hear the pitch and decide if it's worth doing,'” she recalled.
“So my third day, I was introduced to the Tour of California. It was just a concept that they had,” De La Rosa said. “AEG, which is the company that owns the tour, was looking to get host cities. And it looked like a worthwhile project.”
The Los Angeles-based entertainment and sports company, which simply goes by the initials AEG, did decide to bring the race to Santa Rosa. And Sonoma County has grown in reputation since then as a destination for cyclists around the world.
The seventh annual Tour of California race last month came with a celebration that spread over much of downtown Santa Rosa and spread to nearby wineries, spawning related rides and runs for ordinary folks not necessarily in the same class as the tour pros.
“There's been a change. Downtown is busier. Cycling as a way of life dawned on the average person slowly here, but I believe it certainly changed our culture. It's been very good to us, in terms of our economy, and our brand as a destination,” De La Rosa said.