Robert Lovingood, one of seven candidates vying to replace outgoing First District supervisor Brad Mitzelfelt, said he wants to bring to government the same employment-generating ethos that has sustained his career over the last 23 years in the High Desert’s private sector.
Lovingood is the owner and chief executive officer of ICR Staffing Services in Victorville, which according to company records has found employment positions of one sort or another for 30,000 job seekers in the High Desert since the company began operating in 1989.
“We have to generate revenue,” Lovingood said. “We have to create jobs.”
The entire state of California has been plagued by the shutting down of businesses and the loss of employment opportunities. That has taken place, Lovingood said, because of the contraction of the national economy but also because California in general has engaged in policies that ward off businesses and it has been outhustled by other states that have undertaken policies to attract manufacturers and businesses.
“Look at what Rick Perry did in Texas,” Lovingood said. “He went to 100 companies in California that were contemplating closing down and offered them incentives to relocate to Texas, providing them with the opportunity to cut costs and increase profitability. We should be doing that here.”
The High Desert has in plentiful supply two of the elements that would allow that formula to be applied, he said.
“We have affordable land and a ready workforce,” Lovingood said. “The cost of property in the High Desert is well under the average cost in the rest of urbanized California. And we have 60,000 commuters from the High Desert going to work elsewhere in Southern California every day. What we need to do is relocate jobs into the High Desert. We have the formula for success. Our water issues have been mitigated and resolved. We can do this.”
If he is elected to represent the First District and its more than 400,000 residents, Lovingood said, he will be proactive in seeking out employers currently located in the state that are contemplating leaving and endeavor to convince them to remain in California by relocating in the High Desert.
“There are multiple successful manufacturers in California that have been running for generations and their executives are asking themselves, ‘Do we go to Arizona or Texas to open operations?’ They are on the brink of leaving California. But many of those are anchored by families or other considerations and for that reason they are looking to stay here, even though they can’t afford to stay where they are now. If we can bring them in here and cut other costs, eliminate the borderline harassment from inspections and regulations they are experiencing and instead of raising fees lower the fees or waive the fees or eliminate the fees altogether, we can revive the local economy. I am involved in several trade associations. I am in contact with business people who want to expand, but government is not giving them the encouragement to do that. Government is actually discouraging them. I want to make things change from the status quo. I guarantee you those companies are out there. We can bring them in and have them locate their operations here by removing the barriers that stop companies from expanding.”
This approach is not merely a pipe dream, Lovingood insisted. The city of Adelanto years ago made a concerted effort to make itself attractive to manufacturers, and that approach was successful, he said.
“Look at what happened in the early 90s when we lost George Air Force Base,” he said. “Adelanto did an industrial operation outreach and created just short of 4,000 jobs by doing that. Every business created gives you a 3.2 muliplier of jobs into the community. Based on Adelanto’s success, it makes sense to build this region up, increase the manufacturing base and bring into the community more jobs.”
Lovingood is vying against Hesperia Mayor Russ Blewett, San Bernardino County fire department captain Bret Henry, congressional office staffer Michael Orme, Apple Valley Councilman Rick Roelle, current supervisorial district staffer Bob Smith and Adelanto School District Board Member Jermaine Wright. He had nothing bad to say about his opponents. “Everybody running is well intentioned,” he said. Nevertheless, he said his experience, skill set and vision differentiated him from the pack.
“I’ve sat on two publicly traded company boards, both of which sold for a solid return for their investors,” he said. “For a living, I work with businesses to find suitable employees and to help mitigate regulation. That is the atmosphere I work in. I am a business generator and have succeeded for nearly 23 years in the High Desert. I would like to give back. I understand business. I understand the demographics here and I know what companies we need to bring in, what jobs and businesses we need for citizens who live here. There is one other opponent in this race with business experience. All the others come from the background of working within government.”
Lovingood was born in Atlanta, Georgia.
He spent four years in the Air Force, receiving technical training working within the civil engineering division. He attended the University of Maryland through overseas extension courses, taking coursework in business and economics. He is 54 years old and married with three children.