(Photo Credit: Susan Lovenburg)
At Wednesday’s Capital Region Economic Forum, Roger Niello called Sacramento a tale of two cities: the economy of state government and the regional economy.
Niello, president and CEO of the Sacramento Metro Chamber, said while the State is the region’s largest employer, leadership for economic planning must be assumed by the region’s other businesses. And with the Next Economy Capital Region Prosperity Plan they’ve done just that.
In fact, leaders of the Next Economy effort describe the five-year blueprint for growth as more than a plan, it’s a movement.
The same leaders came together again on Wednesday to set priorities for state action to support the movement. Those priorities, combined with the priorities of regions throughout the state, will be advanced at the 2013 California Economic Summit in November.
First the group took a few minutes to highlight local success. Sacramento Bee publisher Cheryl Dell moderated a Mega Trends panel focused on building upon local assets. Dr. John Jackson described how William Jessup University built a public-private partnership to navigate the regulatory thicket and convert a former manufacturing center into a campus for more than 1,000 full-time students.
Jose Blanco told how the Central Valley Fund has deployed more than $50 million into interior California companies since 2006, including financing for several Central Valley businesses for acquisitions, expansions or recapitalizations. (During later discussion, additional sources of capital were highlighted in CalFOR’s Access to Capital Guidebook.)
Dr. Kathyn Jeffery of Sacramento City College described the Sacramento Pathways to Success, a college-to-career collaboration between the community college, CSU Sacramento and Sacramento City Unified School District. The UC Davis Engineering Translational Technology Center’s efforts to help researchers become entrepreneurs was highlighted by co-founder Jim Olson.
So what more is needed to transform these individual success stories into economic prosperity for the Sacramento Region? Forum participants broke into groups to discuss supportive state action and returned to identify priorities through live audience polling.
They said the state needs to identify economic development and financing mechanisms to incent investment and job creation. The State needs to support advanced manufacturing initiatives in regions across the state. There is a need to invest in the state’s agricultural economic viability. Career technical education must be expanded in high demand fields. The state should have a global export strategy and means of promoting it. And there should be more rural/urban collaboration like the Rural Urban Connections Strategy facilitated by SACOG.
A tale of two cities? Perhaps. But the Sacramento region is on the way to writing its own success story and welcomes a supporting role from the state.