Moving CA Fwd through the California Economic Summit

610 199 John Guenther

Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom interviewed at the 2017 California Economic Summit by Ashley Swearenin, CEO of the Central Valley Community Foundation and former mayor of Fresno (Photo Credit: Violeta Vaqueiro/CAFwd)

As CA Fwd starts to mark another great year, we wanted to share the first few stories that came out of the 2017 California Economic Summit in San Diego earlier this month.

Co-presented by CA Fwd and the California Stewardship Network, the Summit convened more than 500 civic, business and community leaders in San Diego. Four candidates for California governor were given the spotlight at the Summit and made some headlines, but there is a lot more to the event and year round work of the Summit. 

On Day One, new initiatives to expand prosperity across the state and into rural regions were picked up by attendees and will play a big role the work in the coming year. The mission of Elevate CA is to address the foundational issues that will lead to improving incomes, economic security, wealth generation and upward mobility. Read more in our Day One summary:

Input and work from the state’s regions will be crucial to Elevate California as each has different needs and different solutions. CA Fwd President and CEO Jim Mayer opened the Elevate California breakout session with a challenge to local leaders, “Regions need to work on priorities and find out what’s working and what’s not working.”

“We need to step up our game,” said Newsom. “We need to get out there and make sure we’re competitive, we’re nimble, we’re flexible in our rule-making and our approach and we have more intentionality at the local level and recognize that an economic strategy is not going to be realized in Sacramento. It’s going to be realized at the local level. It’s a bottom-up, not top-down strategy.”

Day Two kicked things off with a new video that set the tone and called on attendees to commit to building a new comprehensive plan to combat poverty in California. 

A dynamic conversation of next generation of leaders prescribed ways to fight growing economic insecurity and the leaders of all three of California's public higher education systems shared the stage and talk about ways to open up access to more Californians of all levels. Read more with our Day Two summary:

The day started with a panel of millennial and Next Gen leaders, who discussed how California’s economy and the high cost of living are affecting their peers. They also had advice for the higher education leaders who would later take the stage.

“It’s important to know that we have a college system that doesn’t have room for everybody, even if they qualify,” said State Assembly member Autumn Burke, stressing that access to education should be a high priority. Burke added that many of those are students from disenfranchised communities.

Panelist Sean Bhardwaj, founder and CEO of Aspire 3, suggested that colleges and universities need to teach entrepreneurship across disciplines, while Laura Clark of YIMBY Action urged institutions to make sure college students are registered to vote so they have a voice on issues including funding.

Need to know if the Summit is actually making a difference? Great news! We asked leaders at the Summit what they thought:

On top of all this, big opportunities lie ahead, as the 2018 Summit will head to Sonoma County, where devastation from the region's fires is also driving unprecedented collaboration across the region and could create examples for other areas, writes Bob Mueller, chief executive of Valley Vision. Read the full post here:

One story hit me deeply: A mother admonishing her teenage son on his way home from college to keep his eyes on the road when driving down Highway 101. The devastation is so jarring, drivers get fixated on the apocalyptic scene, lose track of where they are, and crash into each other. Another: A wife and husband, already struggling to make ends meet, pay their mortgage bill this month on a house that is now an ash heap.

While you couldn’t help but be deeply moved by countless stories of personal loss and suffering, the conversation didn’t stay there long. The focus instead was on action.


John Guenther

All stories by: John Guenther