SACRAMENTO — Culminating more than a year’s worth of research, community-wide information gathering, planning and prioritizing, business leaders unveiled today the Next Economy Action Plan at a news conference held at the UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center. Regional leaders representing business, government, health and bioscience, and academia stood together to emphasize their commitment to implementation.
“It may seem like a long time in coming,” acknowledged Brice Harris, Chancellor of California Community Colleges and one of the Leadership Group volunteer members that guided the planning and research phase since fall of 2011. “But the task of bringing an entire region together to supercharge a $97 billion regional economy with a concentrated set of business growth strategies to grow jobs and new investment is no easy feat.”
If goals, strategies, objectives and action steps are implemented across all segments of the region’s leadership—as the Next Economy Plan is designed—the Center for Strategic Economic Research (CSER) determined a potential economic benefit of 35,000 new jobs and $5.3 billion in economic output over the next five years. CSER conducted an assessment of all activities contain ed within the Plan to determine these conservative performance outcomes that the region can expect over and above any business as usual performance.
Next Economy has been a volunteer-led effort, championed by the business community and largely funded by private interests, businesses, organized labor, foundations, and also several local governments. Approximately $250,000 was raised for research and project planning to date, but far more than that total has been invested in terms of volunteer time and effort. “Next Economy is not an organization, it’s more like modern day barn-raising where everyone in the community chips in toward a common goal and we all benefit,” explained Scott Syphax, president & CEO of the Nehemiah Corporation who spoke on behalf of the newly formed Next Economy Oversight Group charged with monitoring implementation progress.
“We will use jobs, dollars, diversifying our economic base and building a stronger foundation for long-term growth as the primary yardsticks for measuring results,” Syphax stated. “We need to instill an entrepreneurial spirit that attracts and retains innovators, researchers, educators, students and investors from all over the globe.”
Next Economy builds on the region’s competitive strengths and is focused on diversifying the regional economy through a “cluster- based” approach to economic development. Released today, the Capital Region Prosperity Plan is the result of Next Economy. It contains five overarching goals, 14 objectives, 68 strategies and 292 actions all geared to accelerate job and wealth creation. These activities are channeled through a business cluster framework that takes advantage of the unique competitive advantages in the region. “An extensive economic analysis determined six core business clusters that present the greatest opportunities for job and investment growth here,” explained Ann Madden Rice, CEO of the UC Davis Medical Center and member of the effort’s Steering Committee.
“Today’s news conference is being held here at the UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center as a symbol of the important role that the life sciences and health services cluster plays in our economic future, and we are proud to be among the region’s leading-edge health providers like Dignity Health, Kaiser Permanente, Sutter Health, and others who are advancing health -care innovation and the related bio-medical industries and technologies in our region,” said Rice.
While spear-headed by business, the Capital Region’s cities, counties, agencies and special districts play an integral role in regional economic development success, particularly if local governments strive to work together rather than individually to improve the regional economy.
“Local governments have proactively acknowledged their part and commitment to Next Economy as evidenced by the resounding adoption of resolutions of support,” stated John Shirey, Sacramento City Manager. Shirey commended the five counties and 15 cities that have adopted resolutions thus far, but pointed out that it will be their bona fide commitment to concerted execution that matters most. SETA Sacramento-Works and the Golden Sierra Job Training Agency have also adopted resolutions of support. Other cities, counties and agencies are joining in.
By design, the Action Plan enables public and private organizations and agencies to team together and coordinate their economic development activities in a concentrated approach. The Action Plan is described as an economic development “playbook” that regional partners apply in ways consistent with their mission, capacities and constituent interests. An early adopter of the playbook approach is SETA-Sacramento Works whose Planning/Oversight Committee recently authorizing realignment of $88,000 to directly advance workforce and training activities in the business cluster and world-class talent goals.
Organizers assert that Next Economy is different from other regional initiatives, not only because it invites participation from the broadest array of organizations and people committed to prosperity, but also due to the fact that strong accountability measures have been introduced to benchmark performance across a full sweep of interrelated economic development activities—like technology transfer from area universities to spur new high growth businesses, improved access to capital, educating, retaining and attracting world-class talent and increasing trade and export activity—and also because of the emphasis being placed on governance and long-term accountability.
The business leadership of the Metro Chamber, SARTA, SACTO and Valley Vision pledged their commitment to a Teaming Agreement that specifies their roles and performance obligations toward Next Economy execution. “The agreement provides a written framework for how the organizations will work together to implement the action plan and coordinate future activities,” said Syphax. “It is an unprecedented agreement between regional economic development organizations and by itself is a significant contribution of Next Economy.”
A five-year governance structure was also introduced. “The current and incoming chairs of the four organizing groups, plus those representing NextEd and the Northern California World Trade Center have made a five-year commitment to serve in an oversight capacity and to be responsible for tracking progress and serving as custodians of the Implementation Plan over the five-year life of the plan,” explained Syphax.
Additional representatives, weighted toward business, will be added in the months ahead. The oversight members will also address barriers to Next Economy implementation so that the plan is achieved, and serve as a forum for mobilizing region -wide efforts to meet new economic growth opportunities or emerging needs.
“When we look at the breadth, diversity and potential of our core business clusters, our region has every opportunity to parlay what we’re already excelling at into an economic powerhouse with global impact and distinction,” Rice added.