Progress update on California Economic Summit’s Roadmap

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When the Roadmap to Shared Prosperity was released earlier this year, the Summit network of business, environmental, and nonprofit leaders hailed the five-year plan as a way to “amplify their collective impact” and focus state economic policy on the triple bottom line—promoting ideas that simultaneously advance economic growth, environmental quality, and increase opportunity for all.

The Roadmap outlines a broad agenda, and by necessity. From lingering poverty to the specter of climate change, the Summit’s prosperity strategy not only reflects the priorities of the state’s diverse regions, it also acknowledges that taking on any of California’s biggest challenges requires taking on all of them at the same time.

So, with the next Summit approaching on November 12-13 in Ontario, how is progress on the Roadmap?

A summary of efforts to achieve the Roadmap’s three major goals for 2015 can be found below. More detail on the activity of the Summit’s seven action teams can be found in the Summit Progress Tracker.

WORKFORCE & WORKPLACE – Preparing Californians to compete in a dynamic 21st century

The Roadmap set a long-term goal of providing more California workers with the skills, knowledge, and abilities they need to grow well-paying jobs in changing markets. Two immediate opportunities for action this year were identified:  

  1. Align regional workforce training, industry, and community needs: In an effort to make the workforce training system more responsive to regional economies, the Workforce Action Team joined the California Community College Board of Governors Task Force on Workforce, Job Creation, and a Strong Economy. The Summit offered five ideas for improving the group’s draft recommendations, many of them focused on expanding the role of employers in workforce development. In addition, Summit partners are helping implement 2014 legislation aimed at aligning local workforce training systems, including AB 86 (adult education transition), SB 1022 (CSU and UC outcome data), and AB 2148 (workforce system dashboard). The Summit is also supporting a regional collaboration between manufacturers and workforce training programs in Southern California, a consortium that is eligible for $1.3 billion in federal funds after being awarded federal designation as an Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership (IMCP).
  2. Provide small businesses and entrepreneurs with the tools to grow jobs in changing markets: The Summit is leading an effort to connect small businesses and investors through its Capital Action Plan, a strategy for expanding capital access in underserved regions. As part of the plan, which has been awarded a $42,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the team will assess capital access challenges in the Inland Empire and convene the region’s capital markets to enhance lending and investment. The team has also applied for a contract with the U.S. Small Business Administration to expand the effort to the Inland Empire, Ventura and Sierra regions.

INFRASTRUCTURE & SUSTAINABLE COMMUNITIES – Building the communities California needs to thrive

The Roadmap identified four priorities in 2015 for focusing state and regional resource and infrastructure investments on sustainable growth, especially in underserved communities.

  1. Expand infrastructure investment through local financing tools and public-private partnerships.
  • Local financing: Since the passage of SB 628 last year expanded the authority of Enhanced Infrastructure Financing Districts (EIFDs), Summit partners have hosted a series of regional meetings highlighting how these new local financing powers can be used as well as a range of projects that could benefit from them. Several cities are making plans to use this authority, including Los Angeles, San Jose, and Sacramento. The Summit has also supported a follow-up bill on EIFDs (AB 313), which will bolster their ability to finance affordable housing and make it easier for water and transit districts to participate in other infrastructure projects. The bill is now before the governor.
  • State revenues: In its Financing the Future series, CA Fwd has identified a range of options for developing more sustainable sources of revenue for infrastructure, including the need for expanded regional financing authority. In August, the Summit submitted a letter to lawmakers urging them to consider these ideas in the special legislative session on transportation.
  • Housing strategy: With millions of families struggling to buy or rent homes in California, the Summit released a comprehensive plan in June for addressing the state’s growing housing crisis. While supporting the Speaker of the Assembly’s housing package, the Summit also urged lawmakers to do everything in their power to expand development of affordable and market-rate housing close to transit and jobs. The Summit also supported two other housing bills: AB 744, now before the governor, which would expand affordable housing development by reducing parking requirements for special needs, senior, and transit-oriented housing; and SB 377, which would increase the reach of the state Low Income Housing Tax Credit.
  1. Promote sustainable communities through data-driven land use decisions and by ensuring state cap & trade funds and regional climate plans support adequate affordable housing, integrate urban and rural development, and include long-term goods movement strategies.
  • Land use planning: The Summit continues to push state leaders to expand the Rural-Urban Connections Strategy (RUCS) model statewide to encourage integration of natural and traditional infrastructure. RUCS was listed as one of the top 25 programs in this year’s Innovations in Government Awards competition sponsored by Harvard University. Summit partners also are continuing successful ecosystem services efforts in Sonoma, Santa Cruz, Santa Clara counties.
  • Cap & trade: Experts in the Summit network are also exploring how the state could allow rural regions that don’t have Sustainable Communities Strategies—but that are still pursuing strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions—to become eligible for cap & trade funding. Additionally, Summit members are working to better align a designated portion of the state’s cap & trade revenues with the Public Utility Commission’s energy efficiency and broadband access initiatives in communities of need.
  1. Ensure $7.5 billion in water bond funds go to sustainable, multi-benefit, integrated water projects that address issues across watersheds: Summit partners continue to support implementation of last year’s water bond, highlighting three ideas for using drought investments to put the state on a path sustainable growth. The Working Landscapes Action Team is also working with state water agencies on implementing California’s new groundwater management system.
  2. Expand use of open data in land use planning, while also looking for ways to update regulatory processes such as CEQA, water transfers, and air permitting to advance the triple bottom line.
  • Open data: The team supported a bill (SB 573) that would require the state to adopt an open data policy to foster economic development and boost transparency. The legislation would create a new Chief Data Officer responsible for creating an open data portal by 2017. The bill will be considered in the 2016 legislative session.
  • CEQA: As part of the Summit housing plan, Summit experts are exploring how EIFDs working toward regional sustainability goals could be provided with some of the same exemptions from the CEQA process currently available to green mega-projects.

GOVERNANCE & FINANCE – Improving public decision-making about how to achieve prosperity

In 2015, the Summit set several goals for ensuring state economic policies are aimed at the triple bottom line—encouraging the state to integrate jobs programs with environmental and poverty-reduction plans, while also aligning state and local governance and finance systems. Progress has been made on of three of these issues:

  1. Identify adequate revenues to make investments in the state’s long-term prosperity—from workforce development to infrastructure and sustainable communities.
  • Financing the Future: CA Fwd’s Financing the Future series summarizes more than a dozen major tax proposals currently moving through the Legislature or toward the 2016 ballot—and introduces a set of criteria for assessing how they will impact the state’s fiscal system, governance practices, and policy choices. The online CA Fwd Revenue Challenge is soliciting ideas for how to improve these tax ideas.
  • State prosperity policy: The Summit made a presentation in March on the effectiveness of existing state economic and workforce policies to the Assembly Committee on Jobs, Economic Development, and the Economy (JEDE). After the hearing, the Summit and committee issued a joint statement announcing plans to collaborate on these issues, beginning with a JEDE hearing at the November 2015 Summit.
  • Roads, highways, and goods movement: While working to expand local and regional financing authority, Summit partners also continue to push state and local agencies to maximize existing resources. A coalition of groups seeking transportation funding in the new special legislative session has highlighted several ideas for linking new revenues with performance measures. The Summit is also working the Administration and Caltrans on crafting a new goods movement strategic plan (last updated a decade ago) to ensure it emphasizes regional governance and outcomes-oriented financing.
  • Water: In the Growing the Impact Economy Summit this spring, the Summit and its partners brought together a group of experts to explore new ways to finance projects across the public, private, and nonprofit sectors. The group developed a range of ideas for applying this approach to infrastructure investments and is now developing business plans to support watershed-wide planning and stormwater capture systems.
  1. Align regional workforce development systems with industry, including manufacturers: In addition to its efforts to better align community colleges and local industry, the Summit also supported a new $50 million grant program this year for encouraging innovation in higher education. In March, Summit partners co-hosted the first-ever California Awards for Innovation in Higher Education Showcase, where 33 schools presented innovations aimed at supporting students and collaborating across sectors to improve completion rates and workforce preparation. This summer, fourteen campuses were awarded grants.
  2. Increase data-driven decision-making at all levels of government: While pushing state leaders to expand the Rural-Urban Connections Strategy (RUCS) model statewide, the Summit also supported a bill (SB 573) that would require the state to appoint a new Chief Data Officer and create an open data portal aimed at driving efficiencies and creating new jobs.

Justin Ewers

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