How to drive economic growth by connecting capital with ideas: A capital action plan

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(photo credit: 401 K 2012)

To drive investment in local economies, businesses and entrepreneurs must have access to capital.

It’s that simple.

While much of the Summit’s work aims to find ways to provide public goods—from infrastructure to a skilled workforce—that will attract the private investment regional economies need to grow, these efforts will be successful only if capital keeps flowing into California’s local economies.

Again and again in the Summit’s 16 regional forums earlier this year, regional leaders emphasized just how important it is to encourage targeted investments in small businesses from innovative ranches to the next generation of high-tech manufacturers. No matter where entrepreneurs set up shop, capital must be accessible at the right time and in the right quantity so businesses can grow.

This year’s Capital action plan continues to lay the groundwork for better coordination of this critical component of economic growth, and the plan puts special emphasis on ensuring this capital drives investments in environmentally sustainable, well-paying jobs in all of the state’s diverse economies.

Follow the money: A capital action plan

“We’re probably one of the few states in the country that uses economic development and a ‘triple bottom line’ in the same sentence,” Greg Wendt, a portfolio manager at StakeHolders Capital and a leader of the Summit’s Capital team, told an assembly of Summit action team leaders in a briefing with state officials last week. “We need to take advantage of that.”

In 2012, the Summit worked closely with the California Financial Opportunities Roundtable—a group of statewide leaders from financial institutions, economic development organizations, and government agencies—to produce an “Access to Capital” guidebook that serves as a one-stop resource for those seeking capital.

This year’s plan, summarized in the Policy Playbook along with the seven other initiatives the Summit is advancing this year, is focused on identifying examples of capital intermediaries that can close gaps in access to capital in regions across California.

“Issues of policy for us are secondary to implementation,” said Wendt. “We’re trying to get down to the nitty-gritty: Region by region, what’s going on in the economy, what kind of capital is needed? We’ve begun this process by taking this apart and developing a framework to assess and map what’s going on in each region, what intermediaries are there, and what are needed.”

At the Summit, more than 500 business, government, nonprofit, and civic leaders will review this approach—and offer their own ideas about how the Summit can ensure capital continues to flow in all of California’s diverse economies.


Justin Ewers

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