Help Wanted

This program is brought to you through the generous support of viewers like you.

Presentation of New Valley is made possible by Intel Corporation -- taking a leadership role in bringing citizens, business and government together, to examine the impact of growth in the Central Valley.

And by U.S. Home, committed to developing a positive future where we live and work by promoting responsible growth, and preservation of our quality of life.

And by the air districts of the Sacramento and San Joaquin Valleys.

This is our signature sunrise over Dixon; a reminder that another day is beginning in a Central Valley that 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, our 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 growth.

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.

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 of California, the chasm between rich and poor is growing.

Taking another look, is that Valley sun rising or setting on our new economy? This is the New Valley: Help Wanted!

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, 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 economic puzzle making up the Great Basin is evident when comparing the economic imprints of the Sacramento and San Joaquin Valleys.

John Melville, Director of Collaborative Economics: "There certainly are similarities in terms of the agricultural base. But they are economies that have developed differently. Let's take the north valley economy: Shasta, Redding, the growth of health care and scientific and health products. That looks very different than the Fresno economy, which, although it has an agricultural base, has developed a very strong precision irrigation technology cluster. And in a way, that's great because if you look at it top to bottom, Sacramento-San Joaquin Valley, there's an enormous amount of economic diversity."

As the Central Valley grows in population, we can see different economic patterns taking shape; patterns that fit new profiles of industrial and demographic change.

John Melville: "The Valley has moved from a situation where, in terms of distinctiveness, where there's really been an emphasis in the past on its role as a low cost location. And now it's really transforming into a lower cost location that's able to support high quality specializations. In terms of diversity, we had a lot of dependence on natural resources and government in this region. That has now changed. There is more of a diverse portfolio of industries based not only on natural resources, but human resources. In terms of quality, the region has been dependent on its quality natural environment. Now we've got not only a quality natural environment, but we've got a growing number of economic choices and lifestyles. The final shift is in terms of leadership."

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.

Ashley Sweringen, Director of the Central Valley Futures Institute: "Essentially what cluster-based economic development refers to is working from your existing industrial strengths. In other words, we're not trying to be the next Silicon Valley. We certainly don't have the capacity that they do in the information technology area. But we do have real economic strengths here in the San Joaquin Valley by organizing those industries that do compete well in a global economy."

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.

John Melville: "This is not reflective of who we are today. It is an outmoded image. This is not P.R. This is not about trying to be something you're not. But it is, 'We are becoming something different.'"

Count Merced among communities "becoming something different." Merced's past is immersed in agriculture, but its future is banking on the success of academia.

James Grant, Director of Communications for UC Merced: "It's the largest population area of the state that's not served by a U.C. campus. Three and a half million people from Stockton to Bakersfield, expected to grow to ten million people by the year 2020 or so. So that population will need to be served by all aspects of government and higher education, and U.C. will play a part in that."

The University of California, Merced -- a grand plan with grand goals. What is currently a golf course and pastureland will be a full-blown campus by mid-century.

Patty Istas, Public Information Officer for UC Merced: "Overall the campus is 2000 acres. But then if we want to break it down into manageable chunks, we'll start with where we're starting with the first three academic buildings, which I believe are in this area. Eventually we're also going to build out just to the west here; we'll be having some student housing."

An eventual campus population of nearly 31,000 students, faculty, and staff, could cause stressful moments for Merced. But the city appears prepared and already seems to be undergoing a metamorphosis in anticipation of the growth.

Bill Cahill, Assistant City Manager of Merced: "It's going to change life in this area very dramatically. Obviously people think at first about the number of people who will work at the University or the number of students, just the number of people brought in. But it will do more than just bring more growth. It brings a much more highly educated and sophisticated population to the area. For example: a new wireless Internet provider that's come into the community. And they've opened up an Internet café downtown -- a coffee shop where you can go in and get on a computer, surf the 'Net. But that Internet café is really just the front door for their total business, which is selling wireless Internet services all over the region. But why are they here? They're here because they anticipate the kind of growth that we're going to have because of the University of California."

Add a new Cineplex theater and the obligatory Starbucks into the mix and the rejuvenation of downtown Merced is well underway.

Bill Cahill: "It's going to change community life in almost every way."

In a region with a notorious disparity between rich and poor, will the economic rainbow hovering over Merced translate to a better quality of life for those who live here?

Bill Cahill: "Castle Air Force Base closed here in the 1990s and it took a lot of middle-income jobs out of the community. When the University comes back in, that's going to add a lot of middle-income jobs and middle-income people back into the community. So I think you're going to see incomes, on average, rising."

Unfortunately, all cities don't have a university in their future. Are the new economies up and down the Valley really reflective of who we are? What does a "new economy" mean to the people who live here? In search of answers, we polled families living in the shadow of "New Valley economies."

Susan and Kai Wong have been married for 20 years, and live in Sacramento. They have two adopted children: Katie, seven, from China, and three-year old Hannah from Vietnam. Kai has worked for a computer firm for five years. Susan is a substitute teacher and works part-time at Coldwater Creek clothing store.

Charlene Archuleta is the single mother of two-and-a-half year old Naomi. They have a one-bedroom apartment in Sacramento and Charlene works as an office receptionist.

Rob and Shirlee Fong have a home in the capitol city. He is a lawyer; she is a Director of Marketing and Communications for AT&T Broadband. They have two children, eight and three-years old.

Charlene Archuleta: "I surprise myself everyday, I really do. When I'm getting out of bed early, you know, and I'm working everyday, I don't stop till ten, eleven o'clock at night. But it makes me feel good, it really does. It makes me feel good to work hard because before that, when I was just sitting at home when I lived with my parents and I wasn't working…it's like you feel useless, you know?"

Shirlee Tully Fong: "As long as your kids are getting what they need, I think it's important for them to see that, you know, moms can be providers too. And there's just so many different ways to work it out, and I don't think there's one right way. And I think everybody's different and you have to figure it out for yourselves."

Susan Wong: "Well, we wake up and the girls usually hop in my bed and we cuddle a little bit. But then we get up and get breakfast going. And they want to eat breakfast right away, you know: fruit loops. And then we get dressed and get the backpack all together, and get the lunch made, and get the girls off to school. I love taking the kids to school. I feel like I need to be there and I need to walk them up to the teacher, and not just - I don't like dropping them off. Only when I'm in a hurry, but usually we walk them up to the teacher and say good-bye for the day -- because it's a long day. And they're there until 2:30, so, you know… Katie being a first-grader, that's a long day for her."

Rob Fong: "On good days, when I can, I try to help out by getting folks up or getting breakfast ready before I leave for work. My wife Shirlee is really primarily responsible for getting the kids to school and picking them up from school."

Charlene Archuleta: "It's crazy how different your life changes when you wreck a car. Basically I had no transportation to and from work, no transportation to take my daughter to shopping, the little things, errands. I got scared for a minute. I was scared that I was going to lose my job. But, I mean, I found another car like within three or four days, which helped me out a lot, so everything's okay now. I just have to find another job. I have to work a second job to pay the insurance and the car payment every month. So that's what I'm trying to do now; is look for another job."

Susan Wong: "Oh, I'd much rather be doing this! If I didn't have to worry about money, I would be… I would just love doing this all the time, and doing projects that I to do. Because I'm a creative person, so I want to be making something or making crafts with the kids. But there's always that underlying feeling that you have to be making some kind of income to make things work every month."

Shirlee Tully Fong: "I stopped dancing when I was about 23 because I'd had a few injuries. But I also had planned to go to college and everything. And studied languages and international marketing, and then came out here to work in some international trade development issues in the Capitol."

Rob Fong: "I am a second-generation Sacramentan. I'm born and raised in Sacramento. So I have rather long, deep ties."

Shirlee Tully Fong: "I came over to cable and, you know, was very intrigued by, just really, the creativity on the programming side, and all the different fun things you can do with marketing, as well as a lot of community relations initiatives."

Rob Fong: "I've literally been with the firm, with Mackenroth, Ryan & Fong, you know, since the day I got out of law school. I enjoy it, and I enjoy being a small business owner and I enjoy being some who can also, you know, work in the community."

Shirlee Tully Fong: "Between my husband and I passing things back and forth and trying to get our day running, we're continually looking at it and thinking, you know, 'Okay, are we at too many meetings? Is there some way that we can cut back? We need more time at home.' I think I wouldn't be honest if I didn't say that some days it feels out of balance."

Rob Fong: "My typical workday is…usually seems to be a series of meetings. You know, I don't have much sitting down time in the office."

Charlene Archuleta: "I've worked at Pacific Coast for the last four or five months. I plan to be there for a while. They have a lot to offer and they treat me really good there, so I'm going to try to stay there as long as I can. I make ten dollars an hour, which is two dollars more than I was making at my last job. While my boss was gone on maternity leave, I was working 40 hours. But now I'm cut back to 32 hours, which makes quite a big difference. I'm making it now. I would like to be making more, because it would be a lot easier if I was making 12 or 13 dollars an hour. I really wouldn't have any problems making it on that much. So that's why I plan to go back to college."

Susan Wong: "Well, we both -- we studied to be graphic designers. It didn't take me very long to realize that I, you know, I'd do better if I work on my own, you know, instead of working for a design firm."

Kai Wong: "One day my wife and I just did a spreadsheet of all the incomings and outgoings in terms of cash. After a while, we just kind of went, 'What if?' What if we, you know…stopped doing…you know, things like having a lot of vendors who work for us like Clark, cable TV, or whatever? And then the other expenses… What would happen? And we found out that we wouldn't need nearly as much money. And that's when the idea of her not working came into play."

Susan Wong: "I feel so silly because here I have a four-year degree in Communications. And I'm over forty -- I won't tell you how much over forty -- and I'm trying to figure out what to do with my life, and just make a little income so I can stay home with the kids. I don't want to go out and get a full-time job, and part-time doesn't work either; you might as well be working full-time. And I just want to be here with the kids during the day and be able to do something at night. So what I'm doing is starting a little business. So instead of doing graphic design, I'm doing interior design, as well as working on my substitute teaching credential. So I'm going to just put a couple of things together to try to make ends meet."

Shirlee Tully Fong: "I think we're two people that have worked very hard for what they have. And I would say we're 'cautiously comfortable.' I'd say we live below our means; you know, we don't have a lot of debt. I mean, we feel like a lot of what we're saving for is to remodel the home. But there's also some long-term savings, and 401ks on both sides. We're not maxed. I mean, we pay off our credit cards every month. We…"

Rob Fong: "I think having children turns you into more of a saver. At least that's what Shirlee told me…"

Charlene Archuleta: "I hope to retire…age 59 and a half, is the average age. By 60, for sure. I've never thought about it until I started working over at Pacific Coast. Basically, if you start putting away while you're young… I mean, retirement is a big issue. I never realized how big it is, but you depend on that money when you retire. I've been discussing it with them lately, so I'm thinking about a 403b plan. I mean, it'd be the smart thing to do these days. Even if you put away just a little bit a month, it makes a big difference."

Kai Wong: "In the past, when money wasn't a real serious problem, and if you wanted something, you go ahead and purchase it. And you find a way to say, 'Oh, this fits in our budget. Let's go for it.' And now, with the one income, you look at everything with a fine-toothed comb and you make sure that it's what is needed for the family. But you still purchase things, don't get me wrong. But you really set the priorities and say, 'Okay, what is important to us?' Not just what we want."

Susan Wong: "I think…ten years ago, fifteen years ago, you could get by on one salary. You can't now! It's…like I say: it's a struggle. The cost of food, the cost of clothing, the cost of gasoline -- if you have two cars. You know, I guess it's what we decided that we need. 'Do we need two cars?' We've even battled with that. Do we need two cars?"

Charlene Archuleta: "When I lived at home, it was, like, no rent, no bills. I used to just spend a lot of money. And now, you have to literally budget every penny. I mean, when I go to lunch at work, it's like I've got to figure out how much money I can spend at work just so I can make it at the end of the month. Since I've wrecked my car, my bills have increased $400 a month. So that $400 a month was the money I was wasting on lunch money, on all the little knickknacks when you go places. So I pretty much had to cut that out. It's like, no more. I try to even avoid carrying cash on me, so that I can basically, you know, spend money on the necessities: gas and food."




Susan Wong: "Anywhere from $400 a month to $600 a month…"

Charlene Archuleta: "There's been some months when money's been, like, extremely tight. Where I can only spend $50 or $60 on groceries."

Susan Wong: "Things are just going up and up and up. It seems like I really have to narrow down the items that I get. I really… I can't go for any extras. I go for just what we need, and once in a while I cheat -- and I end up paying for it!"

Charlene Archuleta: "I normally set my pay periods so I go shopping every two weeks. Normally around the same date: normally around the 6th and the 20th I go shopping."

Susan Wong: "We study the ads every week, you know? We used to just throw them away, so... Now we compare stores. We're very loyal to certain stores, and… But now we have to shop for certain items that are better prices at other stores. And we're also shopping at the Costco's and the Sam's Clubs -- making a special list for those stores. Well, I used to go for convenience. I'd be running into the store at the last minute and I wouldn't plan anything so I bought a lot of things that I didn't need So now it has to be planned. It has to be planned around my husband's paycheck, and whereas I didn't pay attention before, you know, when I went shopping, now it's, 'Is it the first of them month? And do we have money in the bank?' so I go shopping."

Rob Fong: "I would like to be fabulously wealthy…but we're not."

Shirlee Tully Fong: "Well, there's always hope. I think we…we're in the mode, because our children are young, of trying to put a lot way for college, and… You know, state colleges are getting hard to get into, so… Rob actually makes a little tiny bit of money for his school board activities; it's like a stipend kind of thing. And we put that right in the kids' college, because it seems poetic justice."

Rob Fong: "I was wondering where that money was going!"

Shirlee Tully Fong: "Yeah!"

Kai Wong: "I was pretty spoiled with my last job with fairly good benefits for the family. Making a transition to this company was fairly easy because in many ways I expected good benefits and I got them."

Shirlee Tully Fong: "Because my husband works as well, you know, we do have options on both sides. The company's very good about ownership in terms of, every employee has some stock; every employee participates in the success of the company in the form of bonuses. You know, pretty much all the standard programs that most companies have, but I think a particular emphasis on employee welfare and employee assistance where needed. So it's quite good because it is a large company."

Charlene Archuleta: "They don't offer me benefits. It's not so much benefits; it comes down to the money that you make at the end of the month. The extra eight hours a day, a week makes a big difference in a paycheck. That's the only thing that really hurts, is getting cut back on hours. I am definitely going to have to find a second job. It's very hard to find employment just two days a week, and to be picky. But like I said, my job is really supportive. They said, 'If you want to take on a second job, we'll work with your schedule and we'll make it happen.' My daughter is my motivation. She keeps me going a lot now. She's my best friend. I want to work hard. I want to have nice things. I want to take her places and do things with her. And you can't do that unless you work hard, so…"

At the end of the day, the passage of time will be the indicator of whether or not the Valley has taken the best economic path. A recent Public Policy Institute poll shows that 14 percent of likely voters think that the economy and jobs should be a legislative priority.

If the growth of cluster industries continues and an entrepreneurial spirit can be sustained, and the broad disparities between the wealthy and the poor can be overcome…perhaps only then can we claim success in the search for economic soundness.

What good is a sound economy if we ruin the environment trying to achieve it? That will be the subject under discussion on our next program. We'll call it "New Valley: Refuge or Ruin?" A look at natural resource management in the Central Valley in an era of growth. We hope you can join us.

If you have comments regarding our programs, you can contact us by visiting our website at Direct e-mail to Send regular mail to New Valley, KVIE Channel 6, P.O. Box 6, Sacramento, CA 95812.

Additional support provided by a grant from the Great Valley Center.

To order a copy of this program for $14.95, call 888-814-3923. Or visit us online at

This program is brought to you through the generous support of viewers like you.

Presentation of New Valley is made possible by Intel Corporation -- taking a leadership role in bringing citizens, business and government together, to examine the impact of growth in the Central Valley.

And by U.S. Home, committed to developing a positive future where we live and work by promoting responsible growth, and preservation of our quality of life.

And by the air districts of the Sacramento and San Joaquin Valleys.