Letter to Summit participants from George Shultz and Leon Panetta

150 150 George Shultz and Leon Panetta

(photo credit: Violeta Vaquiero)

Dear Summit participants,

After decades of public service, including more than twenty years between us working for presidents from Ronald Reagan to Barack Obama, there is a reason we have turned our attention to the California Economic Summit: California’s economy—and its future vitality—desperately needs this effort to connect the state’s diverse regions to rebuild a strong middle class.

California’s great strengths—its size, its diversity, its natural wealth—have always come with challenges as well. Our state is as big and bold as it is difficult to govern. The keys to the state’s success have been creative people, entrepreneurial minds, far-sighted infrastructure investments, leading-edge technologies, and ambitious public policies. This vitality built California—and it has shaped the world.

It also makes us confident we can overcome the biggest obstacles before us today: a slow and uneven economic recovery, rising income inequality (our state is home to more billionaires and more people living in poverty than anywhere in the union), and the complex work of laying an economic foundation that will allow us thrive in the century to come.

From smart phones and smart cars to biofuels and silicon chips, Californians invent solutions to our problems every day. To meet the economic challenges ahead, we must do the same for California’s economy, using our creativity to develop new ways to provide public goods—from infrastructure to a skilled workforce—that will attract the private investment needed to produce high-paying jobs, a sustainable environment, and equal opportunities for every Californian.

This means tapping into ideas from across this state of nearly 40 million people, where driving from one border to another means traveling almost 1,000 miles—and passing through a set of diverse economies that produce the food and fiber, entertainment and technology, and even advanced manufacturing that are the envy of the world.

We believe it is in these regions that the solutions to California’s problems lie. The challenge we face is bringing the best thinking of our state’s most creative leaders—who do the hard work of creating jobs, building communities, and keeping California competitive—to bear on our state’s most pressing public problems.

This is the work of the California Economic Summit. In its second year, the Summit has brought together experts in their fields from across California’s diverse regions—rural, urban, inland, coastal, northern, and southern—to identify shared challenges, shared solutions, and to champion a shared agenda that will advance an integrated economic vitality strategy for California.

We believe this profoundly new approach, giving Californians a way to cure California’s ills, is the best way to accelerate the economic recovery—and the only way to provide enduring stewardship of the state’s diverse communities and its unrivalled natural resources.

The next task is to take these regional ideas and make them a statewide reality. That is the aim of the 2013 Summit, and we hope you will join us as we do what Californians have always done: Get to work and get the job done.


George Shultz and Leon Panetta

Honorary Chairs, 2013 California Economic Summit


George Shultz and Leon Panetta

All stories by: George Shultz and Leon Panetta