Sierra civic leaders roll up sleeves for economy

150 150 Susan Lovenburg

Many Californians view the Sierras as the home of many beautiful recreational sites. And they are. But for people living and working in the region, they’re more than that.

On Monday, business and civic leaders from the Sierra region went to work identifying opportunities, challenges, best practices, and regional and state actions to support eight economic clusters: technology, professional services, hospitality and tourism, arts and entertainment, energy, construction, and resource management.

Organizing themselves around Crowdbrite canvases and armed with sticky notes, iPads and great ideas, the groups compiled their collective wisdom to inform regional priorities for state action.

Common themes appeared along the way:

  • It is as important to support existing businesses as it is to nurture new ones.
  • Successful clusters emerge organically.
  • There are opportunities for Sierra businesses, nonprofits and community groups to work together to promote shared supply lines and marketing.
  • Education and training to prepare the workforce is a consistent need across all clusters.
  • Small businesses employ the majority of workers and need to be engaged in the development of any economic plan.

The Sierra’s top priorities for state action?

  • Training & Education: Strengthening the talent pipeline through better responsiveness to industry needs. Meeting the immediate skills needs of the economy through training to support major industry sectors.
  • Infrastructure: Improving the efficiency of existing infrastructure by better connecting regions. Increasing funding for infrastructure through devolution to local/regional levels and public-private partnerships.
  • Innovation: Getting more economic benefits from public investment by supporting small business innovation. Supporting regional efforts to promote innovation through better access to capital.
  • Streamlining: Improving efficiency of permitting processes to expedite job-creating projects by reducing CEQA uncertainty.

Lake Tahoe Basin Prosperity Plan leaders also contributed their lessons learned. The attendees discussed new, innovative ways to cost effectively build a network for positive change in the region and beyond.

“We have real opportunity now,” said Steve Frisch, president of the Sierra Business Council, sponsor of the forum. “We need a system in place, built from the regions up, focused on local actions, that helps our communities,” said Frisch, who described the California Economic Summit project as “smart, efficient and bipartisan.”

“We need to work now to be better prepared to be more resilient in the next economic downturn,” said Frisch. “We have the attention of state policymakers. Now is the time to get the change we want.”

Join Frisch and the Sierra champions at the California Economic Summit on May 11 in Santa Clara.

Photo Credit: California Stewardship Network via Twitter


Here’s what people at the forum were talking about on Twitter. To join the conversation use the hashtag #caeconomy and follow us @CAeconomy


Susan Lovenburg

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