Bill to create California economic plan adopts Summit approach

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Assembly Speaker John Perez (Photo Credit: CalChannel)

Baseball great Yogi Berra is often quoted saying, “If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.”

Unfortunately for California, the state does not currently have a strategic plan for its economy. A bill to require one is moving forward and the California Economic Summit is having an impact on it.

Introduced by Assembly Speaker John Perez, AB53 would require a plan to set economic priorities statewide and do it on a regular basis. California’s last strategic plan was created in 2002.

But how can we create a plan for a state with many regions with different needs?

“That’s what we are trying to do in the Summit process,” said Susan Lovenburg, who coordinates the Summit for California Forward. “Our state’s economy is made up of regional economies that often have distinct differences as well as many similarities. It’s a good sign to see our regional focus has been added as amendments to AB53.”

The bill, which had a hearing today in front of the Senate Business, Professions and Economic Development Committee, was amended to require an economic study that includes “an evaluation of policies and goals developed at the regional level.”

The Summit has been doing just that for two years, participating in 16 regional forums this year across the state and engaging with 1,700 leaders. The regional amendments were added to the bill thanks to the work of the California Forward Action Fund and thanks to the forward-thinking of the Speaker’s staff, which expressed regard for the work of the Summit.

That regional focus is vital to California’s overall economy, which is as diverse and dynamic as the state is. Any economic plan should sync up the efforts taking place in the regions now and must reflect priorities of all regions, which are the main drivers of economic development here in the biggest economy in the U.S.

The bill will require the governor’s economic development arm, GO-Biz, to take the lead in crafting an economic development strategic plan for the state that will cover the next two years. Reports after that will cover a three-year time period.

Before the plan comes together, the office will commission a study to report on, among other important things:

  • Impediments to doing business in California and reforms to business climate
  • The effectiveness of state economic development programs
  • Key industries to stay focused on
  • Emerging industries in-state and elsewhere
  • The state of California’s physical and economic infrastructure
  • An evaluation of regionally developed policies and goals

In front of the committee hearing today, Lovenburg expressed support for keeping that regional focus in the bill, on behalf of the Action Fund:

“Recognizing, through our work on the California Economic Summit, that regional economies are the drivers of economic growth in California, we ask that you retain representation of proposals, policies and goals developed at the regional level in the creation of the plan.”


John Guenther

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