“There is no cavalry riding to our rescue,” said Jim Williams, member of the Next Economy Capital Region Prosperity Plan leadership team, as he urged Sacramento business leaders to commit themselves to hammering out a better economic future for the Sacramento region.
Sacramento has taken some hard hits in this economic downturn, losing 145,000 jobs since 2007. The region now has at 12.8% unemployment rate and the sixth highest foreclosure rate in the state, according to the prosperity plan. More than 200 business leaders came together at the Next Economy forum to figure out how to turn these trends around.
Bill Mueller of Valley Vision said economic forecasts indicate a regional recovery is years away.
Joining forces to help combat the challenges, Valley Vision, the Sacramento Metro Chamber, SACTO and SARTA will develop regional job growth and investment strategies and create new partnerships or joint ventures.
Sacramento Bee editor Foon Rhee, in an editorial published earlier this month, wrote, “Next Economy is one of the most important initiatives the Sacramento region has launched to accelerate its recovery and plan our economic future. If it works, the region will be less reliant on state government and construction by diversifying its jobs base.” He also identified a need for more engagement from a wider range of people in the region.
The Center for Strategic Economic Research has identified eight potential growth areas for the Sacramento region: education, health care, business services, financial services, bio or life services, information technology services, clean/green technology, and travel/tourism.
The primary goal for Next Economy is to cultivate an entrepreneurial and innovative environment. Participants at the November 15 forum agreed that the two top priorities for job growth should be life sciences and health services, and information and communications technology. Leveraging some of the region’s strongest assets – including research institutions, established healthcare industry, and growing technology sector – will help get the economy back on track.
California Forward supports this work, because it is consistent with our work to empower local solutions while capitalizing on regional assets. In addition, people want a voice in developing policies that affect them. To promote that civic engagement, California Forward plans to partner in Next Economy’s upcoming public forums to help drive the conversation forward.
Public forums to continue the conversation are scheduled for February 17 and May 4.
Susan Lovenburg is in charge of California Forward partnerships in the Sacramento region.