California Forum

California’s economy isn’t just L.A. and Silicon Valley. We need a statewide strategy

A bill carried by Sacramento-area lawmakers would create a statewide economic development plan, the better to bring jobs to lagging regions. Here, the bustling Port of Long Beach boosts Los Angeles’ economy. (Rick Loomis/Los Angeles Times/TNS)
A bill carried by Sacramento-area lawmakers would create a statewide economic development plan, the better to bring jobs to lagging regions. Here, the bustling Port of Long Beach boosts Los Angeles’ economy. (Rick Loomis/Los Angeles Times/TNS) TNS

We all feel California is in the driver’s seat. The Golden State has the keys to the most innovative economy in the world, yet we are constantly managing economic crises in housing, poverty, homelessness, and infrastructure.

Why are we faced with these ongoing, systemic issues when we are the world leader in innovation and fuel the strongest economic engine in the country?

California should independently, regularly and cohesively measure its economic behaviors and build a comprehensive statewide economic development plan, as well as create an opportunity for constructive dialogue on the unique needs and features of our state.

Public, private, and community leaders should support AB 2596. The bill allows constituents throughout the state to engage in one conversation to lead a statewide economic development plan.

Without an assessment and statewide strategy, the state lacks the framework to target emerging and dominant industries, identify and advance regional strategies, and move forward with an action plan to promote a market-based, inclusive economy across the state.

The Bay Area and Los Angeles drive our economic prosperity but are heavily impacted by congestion, density, and housing prices. Chances are if you have a job in California, you face a lengthy commute and a challenging time finding affordable housing.

California has the highest supplemental poverty rate in the country. One in five Californians lives in poverty, the highest rate in the country, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

If we want to maintain the economic success of Silicon Valley, combat job loss, promote equity and inclusion in places of severe poverty, and avoid the unintended consequences of unevaluated policies, California needs to take a proactive approach to improving its competitiveness.

Now more than ever, it’s important the state drives towards the future, which is why public, private, and community leaders should support Assembly Bill 2596. The bill allows constituents throughout the state to engage in one conversation to lead a statewide economic development plan.

To create an inclusive economy, the state needs to evaluate with data and evidence which regions and residents are prospering, who is being left behind, and what economic trends require our immediate attention.

Other states put a priority focus on their own competitiveness agendas, suggesting and acting on economic development strategies that create job growth and prosperity. They establish our brand and reputation as “bad for business.”

The evaluation required by AB 2596 will give us an even deeper snapshot of the state’s successes and potentials – letting us take back our brand while building strategies to benefit residents across the state.

AB 2596 shows bipartisan support; Assemblymen Ken Cooley, D-Rancho Cordova, and Kevin Kiley, R-Rocklin, are co-sponsoring the bill.

It shouldn’t matter whether you live in Riverside, Bakersfield, or San Francisco – Californians should have access to our rapidly changing economy and have the opportunity to secure a job that provides for their families. That’s our goal, and we encourage all elected officials to take action.

California’s leadership has positioned the state for future success in emerging industries – for example, the current administration’s leadership on climate change has created new markets for carbon-free technologies. Now, as we collectively work to lead in these new markets and create jobs across our state, it’s critical that we take a market-based, data-driven, inclusive approach.

Statewide assessment and strategy will let California keep building the industries of the future, while growing job opportunities across sectors and regions.

We ask our elected leaders to support AB 2596 as we work together to build an inclusive California economy.

Barry Broome is CEO of the Greater Sacramento Economic Council. Jim Wunderman is CEO of the Bay Area Council. Reach them at bbroome@selectsacramento.com and jim@bayareacouncil.org.

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