Regional Economic Development Receives Major Boost in California

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(Photo: Violeta Vaquiero/CA FWD)

California’s regions received a big economic boost last week with the Legislature’s approval of the Community Economic Resilience Fund (CERF).

Supported by a $600 million one-time federal American Rescue Plan Act allocation, CERF will allow regions to transform their current economies as well as work toward more sustainable and equitable economies going forward.

“The Community Economic Resilience Fund, which supports the planning and implementation of regional economic strategies, is a culmination of efforts California Forward (CA FWD) has helped lead across the state to build more equitable economies for everyone – from the Regions Rise Together partnership with the Newsom Administration to the Regions Rise Grant Program (AB 106) authored by Assemblymember Rudy Salas,” said CA FWD CEO Micah Weinberg.

The approach that CERF takes is one that has worked in other countries, other states, and in California regions like Fresno and the Salinas Valley that have taken up the mantle of equitable region building on their own. Many of these comprehensive and dynamic regional efforts are being led by members of the California Stewardship Network, an alliance of regional leaders for which CA FWD serves as a backbone.

“The passage of the Community Economic Resilience Fund is great news for Kern County and regions across California,” said Nick Ortiz, president and CEO of the Greater Bakersfield Chamber of Commerce. “The Better Bakersfield Boundless Kern (B3K) Prosperity initiative was able to get a jump start through GO-Biz and CA FWD’s Regions Rise Together strategy sessions. But now with last week’s vote, we will have the opportunity to fast-track our efforts to create a more equitable and climate resilient economy that delivers high quality jobs and regional innovation.”

CERF’s framework is reflective of AB 106, the Regions Rise Grant Program (Salas), to support the rebuilding of regional economies that are fundamentally more inclusive and equitable. The framework was developed through the California Economic Summit and is based on collaborative, inclusive and strategic economic development through regional collectives. This is particularly important for underserved and under-resourced communities in the state that don’t have the resources to take on these efforts.

“California’s regions can truly rise together with the passage of the California Economic Resilience Fund,” said Kate Roberts, president and CEO of the Monterey Bay Economic Partnership and co-chair of the California Stewardship Network. “The leadership and hard work of CA FWD and its partners have paved the way to this historic inclusive economic investment which will increase the opportunities of our families and businesses in every region of our state.”

Weinberg added, “An equitable California works for everyone. Investing in our regional economies and communities is a proven way to lift more Californians toward their dreams of a better tomorrow.”

To learn more about regional economic development efforts, find related articles here.


Nadine Ono

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