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Next Economy: Region launches new effort to create jobs, capital investment

Responding to the region’s sluggish economy, a collaborative effort to reignite the region’s business climate was launched at today’s State of the Region Forum produced by the Sacramento Metro Chamber.

A broad and diverse slate of stakeholders has joined together to begin formulating the Capital Region Prosperity Plan to take the Sacramento region to the “Next Economy.” This initiative is being organized by the Metro Chamber, the Sacramento Area Commerce & Trade Organization, the Sacramento Area Regional Technology Alliance and Valley Vision in partnership with a cross section of regional community and business leaders to pursue economic revitalization that improves the lives of the 2.1 million residents of the capital region.

“Next Economy is the capital region’s response for the economic rejuvenation of our community,” said Martha Clark Lofgren, Metro Chamber interim president & CEO. “The plan will focus on new job creation and capital investment activities.”

In November 2010, the Metro Chamber identified as a strategic imperative the completion of a regionwide industry sector analysis and launch of a collaborative-based regional economic development strategy to grow jobs and business to be included in its 2011 Business Plan.

“Board members and the regional leaders attending our annual strategic planning session believed strongly in this kind of project and worked hard to get us to this point,” said 2011 Metro Chamber Board Chair Gregory Eldridge of CH2MHILL.

Over the next few months, a comprehensive economic analysis of the region’s economic sectors will be conducted by the Center for Economic Research. Results will help identify catalyzing strategies to grow jobs and investment.

“The urgency of the current economy compels us to focus on immediate actions that can be taken to help bring about economic prosperity across the capital region as quickly as possible,” Lofgren said.

Indeed, the market value of goods and services in the Sacramento region fell by nearly 4 percent between 2005 and 2010, and total employment was down 10.6 percent for the same period.

The study of the region’s industry sectors will re-examine our competitive position and evaluate our economic strengths and weaknesses both by functions and by sectors. It will take an in-depth look at the more regional economy by industry and by cluster to identify what we do well, what we do better than others, what our best areas of specialization are and where the greatest opportunities for job and cluster growth are. The research phase will be swift and thorough, with a bias toward action.

“Our region has a successful track record on uniting together and meeting challenges—be they flood protection, building a new Folsom bridge or addressing clean air issues. Next Economy builds on that cooperation but on a much larger scale,” Lofgren said. “It’s a bold way of re-juvenating our economy and will result in effective strategies and joint actions over the next 12 months to drive new job creation, investment and innovation.”

As a collaborative effort, Next Economy will work much like the Partnership for Prosperity (PFP) efforts that began six years ago and helped identify the emerging clean technology and green energy industries and coalesced stakeholders support to nurture that sector. That collaborative planning helped focus regional efforts especially during programs like Capitol-to-Capitol Program that helped regional stakeholders win a $127.5 million federal grant for the Smart Grid Center at Sacramento State University.

While similar in the collective approach to planning and joint implementation, unlike PFP, Next Economy will take swift and decisive action toward one clear and purposeful objective: Create jobs.

Next Economy is predominately industry-sector focused and the plan will: (1) encourage innovation, new business creation, capital formation and the scaling up of key industry sectors in our region, linking us through enhanced trade to the outside world; (2) remove unnecessary impediments that slow business investment and job creation; and (3) ensure that our regional workforce acquires the education and skills needed for the jobs that will be in demand in the Next Economy.

Next Economy is a broad and diverse slate of regional stakeholders who have joined together to forge new joint ventures and strategies with measurable outcomes. The effort will be led by a 10-member Leadership Group who will direct both the process and the outcomes of the effort. The group will be assisted by a Strategy Committee, a group of 40-50 business and community leaders representing the geography, industry and economic interests of the region.

“Sacramento business leadership recognized that it’s time to step in and identify steps to enhance our economy,” Eldridge said. “Economic recovery will require concerted action from business leadership, leaders at all levels of government, and our nonprofit community as well. Our economic models will be different and we need to be prepared to lead the Next Economy and not operate under ‘business as usual’ models for economic growth.”

Results of the research efforts are expected by the end of the year.

For more information about the Next Economy—the Capital Region Prosperity Plan, visit nexteconomycapitalregion.org or contact Valley Vision CEO and Managing Partner Bill Mueller at 916-325-1630 or bill.mueller@valleyvision.org.

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