Central Valley Regional Summit to focus on jobs, retaining businesses

150 150 Niki Woodard

This piece was also published in the Visalia-Times Delta.

It is time for California to act. The state needs to create jobs and improve our ability to retain and attract business. 

The people in the San Joaquin Valley couldn’t agree more. 

The San Joaquin Valley Regional Economic Summit, “Building Prosperity for the Valley Ag Value Chain,”  will be held on March 29 in Fresno. The summit is being convened by the California Partnership for the San Joaquin Valley. Anyone interested in the San Joaquin Valley’s economic future is invited to attend, particularly regional and state policymakers, civic leaders and entrepreneurs. 

This is one of 14 forums being held around California. The results will be presented at the first California Economic Summit in Santa Clara on May 11. It is there that action plans will be developed to create real change in how the state and its regions “do business”. 

Keynote speaker for the March 29 event in Fresno will be Karen Ross, Secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture. Summit topics to be presented and discussed include:  Regulatory Reform, Access to Capital, Infrastructure Needs, Workforce Issues, Ag Land Preservation and Sustainable Growth; and Enhancing the Climate for Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Investment.

A key to the success of the regional forums and the state summit will be the commitment of regional teams to develop and implement those strategies after the event.  The first California Economic Summit will develop actions plans that will improve our work force, expand infrastructure, encourage innovation and streamline regulation. 

Why will this Summit succeed where other efforts have failed? Because it’s being done locally. The California Economic Summit’s regional focus hones in on each area’s unique assets and invites different regions with common industry strengths to collaborate on an action agenda that can elevate them all. 

The fastest growing industries, identified by the California Stewardship Project, for the San Joaquin Valley include: water technology, food processing, precision agriculture, solar/renewable energy, manufacturing, logistics and health care. 

“Since California is an economy of distinct regions, any statewide economic strategy that seeks to bolster broad-based prosperity and a healthy middle class of skilled workers must be built ‘from the bottom up.’”— an excerpt from the Think Long Committee for California’s report, Jobs, Infrastructure & Workforce, released September 2011.

The California Stewardship Project and California Forward—both statewide organizations with a grassroots focus—have been integrally involved in developing the California Economic Summit.

Overall, the goal of the California Economic Summit is to develop policies that promote a job-friendly government, increase California’s competitiveness as a place to do business, stimulate investment in world-class infrastructure, train a skilled workforce and sustain economic growth. 

The timing for such an event couldn’t be better. California is just beginning to emerge from a long and deep recession and people are focused on not only their jobs but those that will exist in the future for their children.

“Failing to act with a real sense of urgency will threaten the essence of the California lifestyle, which is built on the state’s middle class, its workers and their families, and is fueled by opportunity and innovation in an evolving global economy,” notes the Think Long Committee in the introduction to its Jobs, Infrastructure & Workforce report.

Register for the San Joaquin Valley Regional Economic Summit online by clicking here. The event is March 29, 2012, from 1:30 to 8:30 pm at Pardini’s: 2257 W. Shaw Avenue, Fresno, California. For further information, please contact Kristine Walter at 559.960.0558 or kwalter@wheelhousestrategies.com.

Sponsors for the event include: California Partnership for the San Joaquin, California Forward, Valley CAN (Clean Air Now), Fresno Business Council, California Endowment, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, Local Government Commission and The California Stewardship Network.

Niki Woodard is a Central Valley-based consultant for California Forward and principal of Spiral-PR


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