California’s North State Region Eyes Housing and Workforce Solutions

800 300 Ed Coghlan

(Photo: CSU Chico)

To understand California’s economy is to know that different regions of the state have unevenly participated in the state’s overall economic recovery in the last decade.

One area of the state that has lagged a bit is what is called “the North State” — a vast and beautiful region of California that stretches from north of Sacramento to the Oregon border.

Cal State University, Chico’s 20th Annual Economic Forecast Conference was held in Redding last Thursday — discussing the topics that many California regional leaders are asking about:

Do we have enough housing and how do we train our workforce in a fast-changing economy to make sure our region can meet our needs?

The forecast for the North State is for continued slower growth, following the state and national economic forecasts, likely through 2022.

“Construction is likely to be the leading industry in terms of goods-producing jobs growth in the short term; economic development and continued recovery from the 2018 fires in Shasta and Butte counties,” said Dr. Robert Eyler, president and head of research at Economics Forensics and Analytics.

Tehama County has seen gains since 2018 and is likely to be a place where growth continues. Much of the longer-term, regional forecast depends on a residential housing rebuild and expansion, according to Dr. Eyler.

To bolster economic development, Butte County needs to recover lost housing stock and regional considerations of housing expansion need to allow for regional growth alongside of local recovery needs. Like much of rural California, the flow of visitors and potential businesses and employees faces statewide and national competition. As this new decade unfolds, the North State has a jobs engine in Chico State University, regional hubs in Shasta and Butte County, and potential to be a place where manufacturing, logistics, and professional services (including health care) can locate in a dynamic, recovering economy.

California Forward’s Director of Regional Stewardship, Ismael “Ish” Herrera spoke to the conference, which was sponsored by the California Community Colleges and a host of other regional and state companies and organizations.

“The focus on housing and workforce at this year’s conference aligns well with the 2020 Roadmap for Shared Prosperity that California Forward issued earlier this month,” said Herrera. “The work that our organization is doing will continue to be fueled by our growing number of regional partners in the California Stewardship Network, including those in the North State.”

The discussions centered around a solution to the regional housing shortage facing the area and emphasized how education, workforce, and housing are linked together in work to identify those solutions.

In other words, you need workers who are trained for the middle-class jobs that are available or will be available and those workers and their families must be able to afford somewhere to live.

Speakers included Seana O’Shaughnessy, president and CEO of Community Housing Improvement Program (CHIP), Daniel Dokhanian of Mulholland Drive Company, and Dan Herbert, director of off-campus student services at CSU Chico University Housing, who discussed the importance of regional solutions to the housing issue.

The “Role of Policy and Funding in Building the North State” was moderated by North Sierra Community Relations Manager Kristy Lanham of Sierra Pacific Industries and included Damon R. Conklin, director of government affairs at the Sacramento Regional Builders Exchange, Russell Lowry of CalRHA, and Kristin Cooper Carter, owner and principal of Grant Management Associates.

The workforce issue and how education is working with industry and other stakeholders was moderated by Angela Cordell, Shasta College’s regional director of employer engagement of business and entrepreneurship for the Far North Region, and included several panelists including James Morante, sector navigator for the energy, construction and utilities sector at California Community Colleges, and representatives from Butte and Shasta Colleges as well as Cal State University, Chico.

“You can be assured that California Forward will continue to expand its presence at these regional events leading to up the 2020 California Economic Summit in Monterey this fall,” said Micah Weinberg CEO of CA Fwd. “Expanding the California Stewardship Network to include more people who want to work on our housing, workforce and other challenges can help expand our middle class and make the California Dream accessible to more Californians.”


Ed Coghlan

All stories by: Ed Coghlan