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A More Inclusive and Sustainable Economy

Staff Perspective Belén Seara

Hi Get Healthy Partners!

I’m excited to introduce myself and to have this venue to share my perspective on how health and economics overlap and what it takes to build a healthy economy in our county. I am the new Community Health Planner, and I am coordinating the Healthy Economy program. I look forward to working with all of you to build a more inclusive and sustainable economy that promotes the well-being of all San Mateo County residents and workers.

For the past ten years, I have worked along multiple stakeholders and underserved populations to tackle the economic disparities that contribute to the growing health gap between the rich and the poor. In this new role, I am excited to continue addressing the root conditions that create health inequities.

Early in my career, I focused on the well-being of individual workers. In the Central Valley, I was part of a campaign that documented and reported the absence of shade and fresh water available for farmworkers who were working under extreme heat conditions. With time, my career has shifted toward understanding how social, economic, and environmental factors determine the opportunities of residents and workers to live in stable and safe communities.

One of the key economic factors in developing healthy communities is access to sufficient and stable income. While San Mateo County has been experiencing one of the lowest unemployment rates in the state, our economy is primarily producing low- and high-wage jobs, and falling short of producing a sufficient number of middle-wage jobs to move up workers up the economic ladder. The combination of high concentration of low-wage jobs and the high cost of living of our region makes it difficult for low-wage workers to find the time and resources to stay healthy.

At Get Healthy SMC, we understand that with the right policies and programs in place, we can improve the economic security of San Mateo County’s residents and workers.  Some of the key priorities of our Healthy Economy program include:

Creating career opportunities for underserved communities: One of the projects we are piloting is a workforce development program for young minority males who face barriers to employment. This program leverage’s the Health System’s position in the community as an anchor institution to give participants the technical knowledge and tools to access quality jobs in the emergency medical services field. We’re currently accepting applications from San Mateo County minority male residents, ages 18 – 26 – due by March 31!

Ensuring small, locally owned businesses have the tools to thrive in a rapidly changing landscape: Rapid population and job growth in the county can be an opportunity for small, locally owned business if they have the right tools to cope with these changes. We are partnering with the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area to provide technical and legal assistance to small business owners in North Fair Oaks to thrive during and after the Middlefield Rd. upgrade.

Promote economic prosperity policies through City and County planning processes: We will be working with partner Cities and the County to ensure that planning processes and plans include inclusive economic and workforce development policies that promote economic prosperity for underrepresented communities.

I’m grateful to be on this new journey with you to improve the lives of all San Mateo County residents and workers. Please contact me at bseara@smcgov.org to exchange ideas, questions or suggestions.

Belén Seara     

Community Health Planner

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