California Economic Summit launches One Million Challenges in 2016 Roadmap to Shared Prosperity

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(Photo Credit: Tim Dorr/Flickr)

The California Economic Summit released its 2016 Roadmap to Shared Prosperity today, highlighting a set of ambitious goals—the One Million Challenges—that will be vital to expanding sustainable economic growth in every part of California. The Summit also welcomed U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein as honorary chair of this multi-year effort to advance the priorities of the state’s regional economies.

After sharpening this strategy at the 2015 Summit in Ontario, the Summit’s expanding network of business, equity, environmental, and civic organizations have pledged to work together—and hold themselves accountable—to producing, over the next decade:

  • One million more skilled workers: With wages stagnating and income inequality rising—and millions of Californians struggling to make ends meet in low-wage jobs—industries from health care to manufacturing are still struggling to find skilled workers. The Summit has set a goal of closing this looming “skills gap” by supporting the formation of regional civic organizations that can align the state’s expansive training and education programs with the needs of employers.
  • One million more homes: With housing supply falling far below demand—driving up housing prices and rents beyond what millions of Californians can afford—the Summit will also lead a comprehensive effort aimed at reducing the costs and increasing the supply of all types of housing near transit and jobs.
  • One million more acre-feet of water each year: With Californians using substantially more water each year than the state’s infrastructure can reliably supply, the Summit will support the expansion of watershed management solutions that can help regions conserve, capture, and re-use enough water to achieve a sustainable water balance.

“This agenda is big and bold and with good reason: California’s economy may be growing steadily, but so, too, are the complex challenges we face—from lingering poverty to rising housing prices,” said Summit Steering Committee co-chair Paul Granillo, president and CEO of the Inland Empire Economic Partnership.

“It is heartening to see the governor and state leadership share many of these same priorities, and over the last four years the Summit has proved it can be an effective platform for smart, committed civic leaders to work together on these problems,” said Summit Steering Committee co-chair Eloy Oakley, superintendent-president of Long Beach City College and member of the University of California Board of Regents. “As our coalition grows in size, the 2016 Roadmap gives the Summit a way to broaden our collective impact—and to expand prosperity to more Californians.”

Bringing a new perspective to economic growth

Many state leaders applauded the release of the One Million Challenges, which builds on the Summit’s recent successes in expanding state investments in workforce training and developing new ways to pay for housing and infrastructure development.

“The Summit is bringing a new perspective to the challenges facing California’s economy, one that’s grounded in the priorities of the state’s economic regions,” said Eduardo Garcia, chair of the Assembly Committee on Jobs, Economic Development, and the Economy, which held a hearing at the 2015 Summit on building an inclusive economy. “The 2016 Roadmap reflects a commitment to thoughtful, sustainable growth—an agenda that can help move every part of California in the right direction by providing the skilled workers, affordable homes, and reliable water supplies we need to prosper.”

Since its first event in 2012, the Summit has grown into the largest coalition of public, private, and civic leaders committed to sustainable growth in the state—and leaders continue to join the effort in large part because the Summit offers more than just big vision.

“The biggest thing I value [about the Summit] is that people are actually committing to doing something as opposed to giving speeches and talking about it,” said Caleb Roope, CEO of The Pacific Companies, an affordable housing developer who attended the 2015 Summit.

The right strategies to make an impact

The Roadmap lays out what the Summit aims to accomplish in 2016 in a detailed set of action plans, with experts from a range of fields cheering the Summit’s focus for the year:

Workers: “The Summit has identified the key to success: the need to tailor this effort to each of the state’s economic regions,” said Cecilia Estolano, vice president of the Board of Governors of the California Community Colleges, who worked with Summit leaders on the 2015 Task Force on Workforce, Job Creation, and a Strong Economy. Over the next year, the Summit plans to support the formation of regional civic organizations in one or two regions to accelerate the Task Force’s recommendations—and increase alignment of workforce development programs and employers.

Homes: “Now is the time to make the land use and regulatory changes that can help communities dramatically increase the supply of housing—and make needed investments in infrastructure. The Summit is an ideal platform for bringing together the right people to make this happen,” said Lucy Dunn, president and CEO of the Orange County Business Council, a longtime champion of efforts to provide a better balance between jobs and housing. The Roadmap outlines a Summit housing agenda aimed at expanding resources for affordable housing, while also increasing production—and reducing the cost—of all types of housing through state investments, expanded tax credits, and changes to land use and regulatory processes.

Water: “Drought or no drought, California is running a water deficit that we are leaving to future generations,” said Jay Ziegler, director of external affairs and policy at The Nature Conservancy, who has played an integral role in shaping the Summit water plan. “We are using more water each than we have in the system by drawing down groundwater. We need all of the creativity of groups like the Summit to change that.” With the drought exposing many of California’s water systems’ shortcomings, the Summit is focused on providing regions with the tools they need to move toward sustainability. In 2016, the Summit will support efforts in three to four regions to expand integrated water management, while also advocating for changes to state policy that encourage more regions to make investments in water projects that capture stormwater and replenish groundwater, improve efficiency and reuse, and reduce flooding and water pollution.

To read the full 2016 Roadmap to Shared Prosperity, please click here.


Justin Ewers

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