For the first time in six years – since before the Great Recession – Sacramento’s jobless rate is below 7 percent. But there’s much more work to do to create the vibrant, diversified economy we want.
So it’s welcome news that local CEOs have created a high-powered group to recruit new companies and keep existing businesses – and have already put $1.5 million behind the effort.
As long as the Greater Sacramento Area Economic Council cooperates and coordinates with existing economic development organizations, this is a promising development. When corporate leaders look beyond their own bottom lines to the broader health of their communities, they can bring accountability, focus and their lists of contacts.
Early indications are hopeful that the new and established groups won’t be working at cross purposes. Leaders of the CEO council and the Sacramento Area Commerce & Trade Organization, the existing business recruitment group, told The Bee’s Dale Kasler that they don’t see a conflict. Instead, they pledged to work together and said the involvement of CEOs will help sell the region to outsiders. The new CEO council also needs to collaborate with the Sacramento Metro Chamber, which last year unwisely sought to orchestrate a consolidation with SACTO.
Significantly, the council is securing multi-year financial commitments toward an annual budget of $3 million to $5 million so that it can focus on luring companies rather than raising money.
This is a next step for Next Economy, the effort also led by business leaders that developed an economic development blueprint for the region. Bill Mueller, chief executive of Valley Vision, which helped organize Next Economy, writes on today’s Viewpoints page about this transition.
With the audacious goal of generating 35,000 new jobs and $5.3 billion beyond expected growth by 2017, Next Economy targeted key areas where the region already has a leg up and has the best opportunity – advanced manufacturing, clean energy technology, education, information technology, life sciences and health services, and food and agriculture.
West Sacramento shows the success that can happen when government, business and others band together in common purpose. The city has emerged as a food industry hub, with four international companies opening operations since last year with the potential of nearly 1,300 jobs.
While the labor market report for May represents a positive milestone with Sacramento’s unemployment rate dipping to 6.7 percent, a closer look also reveals some of the challenges ahead. The job growth has largely been in leisure and hospitality, where pay is generally lower, and in the traditional sectors of state government and construction.
For the Sacramento region to thrive, we need higher paying jobs across a broader range of industries. If more engaged local CEOs can help propel that cause, more power to them.