Vineyards in the Santa Ynez Valley, California. (Photo credit: John Guenther)
Do you want the good news first or the bad news? With the string of seemingly endless bad news for California, we’ll take this moment to appease those in need of some instant gratification and first present the upside in our state economy today.
The Upside: Ag shines in California
The good news is that agriculture in the U.S. is doing better than ever, and California is the key state behind the robust financial gains.
California’s San Joaquin Valley, the crown jewel of agriculture within the state, posted income increases of around 15 percent. The Valley, which has the largest farm revenues in the country, is the driving force behind the increasing demand and value of the U.S.’s agricultural products. California’s agricultural exports grew by nearly $3 billion between 2010 and 2011, going from $18.2 billion to $21.1 billion.
Other agricultural regions in California are also flourishing. Despite a 38 percent drop in avocado revenues, Ventura County enjoyed 15 percent and 11 percent revenue increases in strawberries and raspberries, respectively.
Tulare County, home to 800 dairies, saw revenues rise 16 percent to $5.6 billion. While Fresno County, another agricultural juggernaut, hasn’t yet finished its 2011 crop report, it’s expected to join Madera, San Joaquin, and Kings counties as regions that are setting record revenue increases.
The Downside: Nevada opens relocation offices in California
The bad news is that rival states are positioning themselves to poach California companies that are considering relocating. Nevada leading the hunt, right in our own territory.
The Nevada Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED) has started an initiative to provide information and assistance to companies based in California that may be interested in expanding or moving altogether to Nevada. GOED is opening two offices in California to help companies jump ship, one in the Bay Area and one in Orange County
Being waved in front of potential candidates is Nevada’s lack of state corporate and personal income taxes, reduced workman’s compensation premiums, and supposedly lower overall operational costs.
California can’t afford to lose its companies to nearby states in an economic climate where California’s economy is sputtering with a pronounced limp. Nevada’s push to attract California companies is something that could deal a crippling blow to the state’s economy. Keeping the state competitive is precisely what the Economic Summit is working towards, though its Action Plan and strategic Signature Initiatives.
California can no longer get by on its sun, surf, and population. Globalization and improving technology means the logistics of manufacturing and moving goods is no longer the daunting nightmare to companies that it once was. If companies are presented with a deal that makes relocating to another state better for their bottom line, they’re going to do it.
California has to be kept competitive and must boast a business climate that neutralizes company scavenging by other states, like Texas and Nevada, and it’s the ideas and innovations pushed by the Economic Summit that can counter them. It will take streamlining regulations, reducing CEQA uncertainty and investing in our infrastructure. Take a look at the Summit Action Plan for more information and let us know what you think.