While there is a sense of renewed hope brought by increased access to vaccines and declining COVID-19 cases, the growing inequality in the state and the erosion of upward mobility continues to impact too many Californians.
According to a February 2021 Berkeley IGS poll, Latino, Native American and Black voters reported being disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. The poll found that “among Latinos, about two in three or more report that – getting sick from the virus, reduced wages or work hours, being unable to get medical care, being unable to work remotely and work under dangerous conditions, being unable to pay for basic necessities, or losing a job – as serious problems for their family.”
As communities look to the future, AB 106, introduced by Assemblymember Rudy Salas (D-Bakersfield) provides a framework to advance comprehensive regional strategies that can rebuild economies that are more equitable, inclusive and sustainable.
The legislation, recently approved by the Assembly Jobs, Economic Development and the Economy Committee, would create the Regions Rise Grant Program under the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research (OPR). The program seeks to ensure that disadvantaged communities and communities of color are fully included in decision-making processes around key issues impacting regional economic prosperity.
The framework for these efforts was developed by the California Economic Summit and is based on the initial success of the regional development efforts of Fresno’s DRIVE Initiative and the Inland Empire’s IEGO.
The framework stresses interconnectivity and collaboration among its diverse and cross-sector partners and seeks to leverage a region’s assets to help address its greatest challenges whether they are in workforce, climate change, housing, transportation, education, or other issues. The goal is to foster economic prosperity and to promote innovative solutions. Much interest and support has grown in the North State, Kern County, Southeast Los Angeles, the Sacramento region, and in the Northern San Joaquin Valley for creating a more comprehensive, strategic and inclusive priority setting process.
AB 106 is supported by a broad coalition of business, economic development, equity, education, government and community organizations including the California Forward Action Fund.
“The recovery of our communities provides an opportunity for a collective restart where we can address the inequities amplified by the pandemic and create a more equitable future for all Californians,” said Micah Weinberg, director of the California Forward Action Fund.
As part of its Building Equitable Economies series, California Forward will be hosting a webinar titled Regions Rising on Thursday, May 13, focusing on the inclusive economic development efforts taking place throughout the state. Speakers include Special Advisor for Economic Mobility and Opportunity to Governor Newsom Michael Tubbs, Assemblymember Rudy Salas, CEO of the Central Valley Community Foundation Ashley Swearengin, Nick Ortiz with Better Bakersfield Boundless Kern, among others. Learn more and register here.