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Submitted By: Tri-County ROP

Panel of Community Officials Discuss Businesses

Issues as local as Marysville's economic woes and as far-reaching as gender equity in the business world got the spotlight Thursday at a forum for Regional Occupational Program students at Marysville High School.

About a hundred students from an ROP small business class, economics and government classes, got the inside scoop from a panel that included Yuba County Supervisor John Nicoletti and Marysville's mayor and vice-mayor, Bill Harris and Christina Billeci.

Lesley Garcia, a junior at Marysville High, said she hopes one day to practice law, and to eventually enter politics. She got both blessings and a cautionary lecture from Billeci, who is running for a state Assembly seat.

Moveen Khan, who teaches the ROP class, said the forum represented the "civic engagement" portion of a 10-part competition in which her students are participating. The competition showcases lessons learned through development of several student-run businesses, and through community involvement. Khan's students will present their work in San Francisco on April 30 and May 1 during a regional round of competition against other ROP programs.

Khan said she wants her students to be, "motivated by profit and social benefit at the same time."

Harris spoke to the young audience about specific and long-standing impediments to Marysville's growth, and reasons why the city has very different needs than Yuba City. The city's seven-mile ring levee restricts development, he explained. Leaders must constantly weigh preservation of historic resources against the need to modernize, and develop sources of revenue.

Complex community issues, Harris, Nicoletti and Billeci all stressed, require a sense of responsibility on the part of residents in order to be worked out productively.

Billeci urged the students to protest against program and budget cuts at colleges and universities. "Go to Sacramento and say, 'We're not gonna take that,'" she said. "Take an interest in whatever is going on in your community ... It's going to take everyone's ideas to turn things around."

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