(photo credit: Violeta Vaqueiro)
The 2013 California Economic Summit in November was never meant to be more than just one step on the state’s road to prosperity. “A meeting is not a result,” as Jim Earp, executive director of the California Alliance for Jobs, put it in Los Angeles, encouraging the gathering of 450 business, labor, and environmental leaders to continue to champion the Summit’s first-of-its-kind effort to rally California’s regional economies around a shared economic agenda.
A new Summit report released this week, Advancing the Triple Bottom Line for All California, offers a first glimpse of how leaders from the state’s urban coasts to its rural interior have proposed to do this—detailing specific commitments made by Summit participants to work together in the coming year to create jobs, increase opportunity for all, and improve environmental quality in all of the state’s diverse regions.
A total of 572 commitments were made in Los Angeles to support the Summit’s vision for California—an emerging, statewide prosperity strategy. This seven-point plan, with its emphasis on the triple bottom line, includes a range of creative approaches for advancing Californians’ highest priorities, from paving roads and building affordable housing to the complex task of training a 21st century workforce and generating a new wave of manufacturing jobs in the state.
The best thinking from across California
At the Summit, participants reviewed each piece of this plan, with state lawmakers, environmental and business leaders, and community advocates alike celebrating the Summit’s focus on solutions that support all of the state’s regions, from the Sierras and the Redwood Coast to the major urban centers of the Bay Area, San Diego, and Los Angeles. Nine out of every ten people at the Summit made a commitment to action—with just as many saying they were “very likely” to follow through on it.
The Summit’s new report serves as an initial summary of these commitments, a collection of some of the best thinking from across the state about how to drive sustainable economic growth in California. After hearing the details of the Summit workforce plan, one state Assemblymember promised on the spot to introduce a bill to advance the Summit’s approach to career technical education. Members of the Regulations team committed to developing a “Yelp-style” survey instrument to measure customer satisfaction with state regulations. A board member from the state Infrastructure and Economic Development Bank, meanwhile—an important potential source of money for underfunded local infrastructure projects—said he would “ensure the I-bank does everything it can to embrace” the Summit infrastructure plan, offering to work with Summit partners to create a pipeline of projects that could benefit from private financing.
Regional leaders, too, from every corner of the state, committed to a range of new partnerships between the public and private sector, new convenings that aim to bridge the state’s urban and rural divide, and new regional planning methods built on open data and open-source software.
“We believe this profoundly new approach, giving Californians a way to cure California’s ills, is the best way to accelerate the economic recovery—and the only way to provide enduring stewardship of the state’s diverse communities and its unrivalled natural resources,” George Shultz and Leon Panetta, the Summit’s honorary co-chairs, said in a letter to Summit participants.
“The idea that someone in Sacramento is going to come down and announce our economic strategy is preposterous,” as Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom put it at the Summit. “There is no white horse coming to save the day. This is economic policy developed and informed at the local level. It’s regions rising together.”
Where commitments will take the Summit in 2014
See below for some of the major themes to emerge from commitments made at the 2013 Summit—a preview of how the Summit’s work will continue, long after the Summit itself, into the new year:
- Career-technical education legislation: After hearing from three regions implementing successful workforce-industry partnerships, Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi (D-Torrance) committed to carry legislation to advance a shared investment approach to career-technical education in high-demand fields.
- Regional sector partnerships: Six regions committed to launching regional sector partnerships to prepare their workforce for high-demand fields.
- Education and advocacy effort: Regional leaders committed to supporting an effort to raise awareness about the importance of infrastructure and the cost of doing nothing—as well as alternative financing methods—in order to build public confidence and buy-in.
- Build a project pipeline: A half-dozen participants, including a board member from the state’s Infrastructure and Economic Development Bank (I-bank), committed to working with the I-bank to bring forward actionable projects that could benefit from private financing.
- Ensure adequate revenue: Summit participants also pledged to support efforts to help the state access public resources the infrastructure system needs, including commitments to expand the use of benefit assessments to support infrastructure investment; to push for lowering the local vote threshold for infrastructure bonds to 55 percent; to advocate for a replacement for redevelopment authority; and to explore raising a statewide resource to support operation and maintenance of the state’s transportation system. (The team co-leads sent a letter to the Administration in December offering the Summit’s support in these areas.)
- Streamlining targeted regulations: State and regional leaders committed to selecting a qualified team to work with GO-Biz and the Governor to identify a small group of regulations with processes that could be streamlined, steps removed, or tracking-technology introduced.
- Yelp for regulations: Several regional leaders committed to pursuing a “Yelp-style” survey instrument funded and managed outside of government, to measure customer satisfaction with specific regulations.
- Open data: Participants also committed to joining an effort to push for open data in state regulations, such as in areas of land-use.
- Regional partnerships: Multiple regions committed to coordinate and align regional manufacturing partnerships throughout California.
- Campaign for manufacturing: Regional and state leaders committed to develop a California campaign for manufacturing.
- Document, value and educate: Nearly two dozen regional, state and federal leaders committed to develop case studies to demonstrate the value of working landscapes as a viable economic driver that can be used to educate students and the public, build relationships with state policymakers, and leverage new and existing resources.
- Open-source software: Regional, state and federal leaders committed to align data collection and analysis to demonstrate the value of ecosystem services, including efforts to take the Sacramento Area Council of Government’s Rural-Urban Connections Strategy (RUCS) statewide.
- Mapping intermediaries: Regional mapping efforts will move forward in at least seven regions throughout the state, identifying existing capital intermediaries as well as gaps in access to capital. The Action Team will continue to support and coordinate these mapping efforts across the state. Several action team members have written letters of support for the California Community Investing Initiative (AB 495), which would direct triple-bottom-line investments to low-income communities.
- Increasing awareness of sources of capital: Several Summit participants made commitments to raise awareness of various sources of capital by hosting webinars and workshops in regions throughout the state.
- Clearinghouse for best practices: Regional leaders committed to developing a clearinghouse of best practices for increasing the supply and choice of housing in regions across the state.
- Permanent source of funding: Nearly a dozen regional and state leaders committed to building support for a permanent source of funding for affordable housing.
- Other approaches to encouraging affordable housing: Eleven regional and state leaders committed to engage policy makers to address barriers to affordability through regulatory reform and to support on-the-ground incentives for SB 375.