How do you monitor
the economic health of a state as large and diverse as California and
do justice to all regions involved? According to the Public Policy Institute
of California, you can't. "A software firm in Palo Alto has little
in common with an agribusiness in Fresno or an apparel manufacturer
in L.A.," states an institute report.
The economy of the
Central Valley is growing by leaps and bounds - a twenty percent growth
spurt over the last decade. That growth has forced the shaping of a
new economy for the Valley -- an economy dependent on global markets
and "technology" intensive. An economy demanding a new set
of skills from our varied workforce. Not just a reworked "ag"
economy; the Valley's new economy is networked and linked. Our diverse
workforce is learning new ways of doing business. Small valley towns
and large metropolitan centers are creating competitive markets where
all sorts of products and services are exchanged; where entrepreneurs
are bringing new blood to markets outpaced by the burden of unexpected
The Great Valley
Center targets three qualities required to maintain the success of our
new economy: Diversity, Distinctiveness, and Quality. Diversity in industries
that drive a region to success. Distinctiveness that gives a region
specialization, providing a unique position in a global economy. And
the Quality of an economy that is expressed through a high living standard
for the population.
As that population
grows, we can see different economic patterns taking shape; patterns
that fit new profiles of industrial and demographic change. A promising
trend up and down the Valley is the development of "cluster"
industries; companies serving the needs of each other and forming pockets
of economic stability. And in an irony that can't be ignored, attention
is being focused on bringing the Highway 99 corridor into the new millennium.
Some analysts believe that cleaning up the aging highway will foster
new interest from entrepreneurs and businesses looking at the San Joaquin
Valley as a possible location for development.
But if our economic
blueprint is so dynamic, how do we explain a widening gap between the
"haves" and "have-nots"? According to the Public
Policy Institute, the chasm between rich and poor is growing. Is that
Valley sun rising or setting on our new economy? This is the New
Valley: Help Wanted!
Plus...don't miss our special
Valley Town Hall
the Economy and Employment