Soapbox

A chance to participate in shaping the region’s future

The Region Rising conference will feature Vivek Randadive, above, majority owner of the Sacramento Kings, and Richard Florida, an author and urban studies theorist.
The Region Rising conference will feature Vivek Randadive, above, majority owner of the Sacramento Kings, and Richard Florida, an author and urban studies theorist. Sacramento Bee file

The six-county Sacramento region is on the move. Our region is fast approaching full job recovery. Our real estate market is showing promising signs of growth. Sacramento’s downtown entertainment and sports complex is attracting significant new investment dollars.

Increasingly, we are leveraging our assets to play a meaningful role in the global economy. We are actively embracing our heritage as the “farm-to-fork” capital. New partnerships are emerging among business, public, nonprofit and faith-based community groups to tackle a wide array of challenges. Young people are engaging in their communities in new and exciting ways.

There are countless big ideas in the works. Where will this energy and excitement take us? What future do we want for this region, and how should we collectively chart our course?

Now our two organizations – the Sacramento Area Council of Governments (SACOG) and Valley Vision – have come together to produce a first-ever, interactive, communitywide conference to explore new possibilities for our region’s future. We have a long legacy of consensus building and deep citizen engagement on issues that matter to our region. The Region Rising conference will be held Nov. 20 at the Sacramento Convention Center. (regionrising.com)

The conference will welcome outside perspectives from, among others, Richard Florida, one of the world’s leading writers on economic competitiveness, demographic trends and cultural and technological innovation. It will also feature innovator thinkers and investors who are still learning what Sacramento has to offer, including Kings owner Vivek Ranadive.

The event will also commemorate and build upon the 10-year anniversary of the Sacramento Region Blueprint, a shared vision and framework embodying principles to guide urban planning across the region through 2050.

The blueprint is more than a set of smart growth principles or a plan for infrastructure. It was a bold process guided by SACOG and Valley Vision that engaged 5,000 residents, nearly 30 local governments, the business community and community organizations across the region.

The blueprint process shaped a regionwide consensus framework to ensure we are among the most livable communities in the country. Because of that consensus, we have preserved agricultural lands valued at more than $4 billion. We have more mobility options and more housing choices in closer proximity to jobs, retail and entertainment destinations. We are driving fewer miles. Our air is cleaner.

Today, we see our region creating new standards of connectivity and collaboration to make our communities healthier and to sustain our economic recovery. What inspired so many people to come together 10 years ago led to other game-changing developments: development of the regional initiative dubbed the Next Economy and formation of a cohesive regional economic strategy. Our public-private partnerships are looking for innovative policy solutions and programs to address mental health, homelessness and workforce development issues.

Of course, we still face many economic and social challenges: extended drought conditions, aging infrastructure, a rapidly changing global economy, income inequality, demands on our workforce, an aging population, closing the achievement gap for our children, and challenges of cost and access to health care.

As with our efforts to grow smarter and more sustainably, we are best able to tackle these issues when we harness our collective thinking and energies. Now it is our turn to engage the future once again.

As one of the most diverse communities in the country, we have what it takes to find new ways of engaging and designing solutions. Consider participating in the conversation on our region’s future and vibrant quality of life.

Don Saylor is a Yolo County supervisor and chairman of the board of the Sacramento Area Council of Governments. Jose Hermocillo is executive director of APCO Worldwide and chairman of the Valley Vision Board of Directors.

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