CSAC Bulletin Article

CSAC 2019 Summer Regional Meeting: Building Economic Opportunity in the Central Valley

June 28, 2019

 More than 4 million residents call the eight counties and 62 cities of California’s Central Valley home. While recognized as an important center of agriculture and one of the state’s fastest growing regions, Kern, Tulare, Kings, Fresno, Madera, Merced, Stanislaus, and San Joaquin counties face significant employment, environmental and housing challenges.

“Economic development has been a long-standing priority for Fresno County and the region,” said Buddy Mendes, Fresno County Supervisor. “We have to belong to the Get-Something-Done Party if we want to make improvements through local government.”

CSAC convened representatives from 14 California counties, including 19 Supervisors to discuss the many challenges faced by the Central Valley and explore ways to seize economic opportunities during the CSAC 2019 Summer Regional Meeting in Fresno County today.

“We know that the resilience and health of many county and state programs rely on a thriving economy,” said CSAC President and Humboldt County Supervisor Virginia Bass. “The regional meeting provides a great opportunity to have in-depth conversations on important issues with a local perspective.”

With a focus on economic opportunities in the Central Valley, the meeting featured highly engaged session participation and lively dialogue between experts from the Central Valley communities, statewide organizations, community-based organizations and policy analysts.

A highlight of the day was an Institute for Local Government panel on Opportunity Zones. “There’s a delicate balance between inviting new investments and staying true to the established goals for your community,” said Erica Manuel, Institute Executive Director and panel moderator. “With 10 percent of all Opportunity Zones located in California, counties absolutely can play a role in positioning your community for investment and growth.”

Throughout the day, participants shared their local experiences, perspectives, and successes from issues ranging from housing development to workforce development.

Connie Conway, Member, Board of Governors of California Community College System and CSAC Past President emphasized the important role that community colleges can play in career tech education to prepare the skilled workforce. Two community colleges in the Central Valley are part of a 15 school pilot program where community colleges offer a 4 year degree.

Second Vice President  and Sonoma County supervisor James Gore moderated an afternoon panel on workforce development and training to help counties retain talented youth as they mature into adulthood. Ensuring economic and social mobility, as well as advancement opportunities will be critical for future prosperity in the San Joaquin Valley.

“Regional meetings are all about connecting to communities, getting out of Sacramento to see what’s happening in the Counties we represent,” Graham Knaus, CSAC Executive Director. “This meeting has been an incredible opportunity to hear from our colleagues working tirelessly to improve their communities in the Central Valley. We look forward to bringing the concerns and priorities we heard today back to the state Capitol.”

Click here for the full meeting agenda, presentations and videos of major sessions. 

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