Summit report: Nine things California can do in 2014 to advance prosperity

150 150 Justin Ewers

2013 Summit attendees talk up solutions. (Photo Credit: Violeta Vaqueiro)

For the last two years, the Economic Summit has brought together leaders from across the state to do something unprecedented in California: create a shared agenda—one developed by experts from each of the state’s diverse regions—aimed at expanding prosperity for all.

At the 2013 Summit in Los Angeles, regional leaders made nearly 600 individual commitments to support the Summit’s emerging prosperity strategy, with its emphasis on keeping California competitive while also providing good jobs and maintaining a high-quality environment.

Now, the time has come to get to work. To focus its efforts in 2014, the Summit has released a report this week identifying nine proposals the state could adopt this year to drive the economic recovery statewide—and to lay the foundation for long-term prosperity. Each proposal includes a clearly defined “win” that will allow the expanding Summit network to gauge its success. These wins range from increasing funding for community colleges preparing workers for well-paying jobs to creating a new statewide authority that will allow local leaders to make long-delayed investments in infrastructure and housing.

Together, the proposals have a simple aim: to build on the Summit’s early successes by taking a series of calculated steps aimed at rebuilding California’s struggling middle class and restoring upward mobility.

Distilling down the Summit’s ideas

“The Summit has been a very impressive process; it has cast a wide net and developed a huge range of good ideas,” Kish Rajan, director of the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz) said at a January meeting where the Summit’s Steering Committee and Action Team leaders discussed how to focus their efforts in 2014. “The real key now is to distill it down, to make difficult choices and to identify the core actions we can turn into tangible accomplishments, where if we achieve them, we know we’ve moved the ball forward.”

The new report, A Year of Action: The Summit Plan to Advance Prosperity in 2014, details how the Summit plans to do just that—highlighting a wealth of opportunities for the Summit’s seven Action Teams to engage and collaborate on proposals that can be achieved this year. The report also describes longer-term efforts each team has identified as a critical component of a comprehensive prosperity strategy—from developing a tracking system that will allow businesses to follow their applications through the state’s regulatory process to promoting a wider range of housing options that will keep home ownership affordable. That work will continue to move toward implementation next year.

In the meantime, the new report highlights the nine proposals the Summit hopes to advance this year to put California on the road to prosperity:

WorkforceTraining workers for the new economy

1. Ensure state funds are spent on career-technical education and workforce development to prepare workers for high-demand fields, including science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).

2. Increase state support for regional sector partnerships to prepare workforce for high-demand fields.

Advancing ManufacturingSupporting a source of sustainable, middle-class jobs for years to come

3. Expand industry-led regional manufacturing partnerships by supporting manufacturing clusters.

RegulationsReducing regulatory uncertainty

4. Explore ways to open up government processes and make regulatory implementation more efficient.                                                                                                                                              

CapitalEnsuring capital continues to flow to entrepreneurial activity in every region

5. Identify ways of using capital intermediaries to close gaps in access to capital across the state.

InfrastructureFinding new ways to meet the infrastructure needs of a growing population

6. Build a project pipeline for new kind of financing, working with the state Infrastructure Bank.

7. Expand the use of new financing tools to support infrastructure development.

HousingMaking housing available and affordable

8. Advocate for state action to increase accessibility of housing by broadening housing availability.

Working LandscapesLeveraging the economic value of the state’s unparalleled landscapes

9. Expand use of data-driven approach to show how managing working lands can improve the economy.

One immediate opportunity to collaborate

The report also highlights a new opportunity to advance the Summit’s agenda in the near-term by bringing several Action Teams together to work directly with state officials on three ongoing state planning efforts. These include:

  • The Governor’s proposed 2014-15 budget – in particular its plans to spend over $600 million to carry out the state’s Water Action Plan and $100 million on a grant program aimed at supporting regional Sustainable Communities Strategies.
  • The Office of Planning and Research’s Environmental Goals and Policy Report, now circulating as a discussion draft.
  • The Air Resources Board’s updated scoping plan for the state’s Cap & Trade Program, also circulating as a discussion draft.

The Summit is working to pool the resources of four Action Teams (Infrastructure, Housing, Regulations, and Working Landscapes) to determine how these state plans align with the Summit’s goals.

This collaborative effort, like all of the work to emerge from the Summit this year, will aim to drive state policy toward advancing the triple bottom line—keeping California’s regions competitive while providing good jobs and maintaining a high-quality environment.


Justin Ewers

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