Roadmap to accelerate middle-income job growth needed for California
(Photo Credit: Dawn Waldman/USAF)
California has many individual programs designed to address specific economic development problems—but do these silos of activity exert the impact needed to grow middle-income jobs? Are we missing a strategic approach?
During the 2016 California Economic Summit more than 60 participants from the Summit’s Capital, Regulations and Advancing Manufacturing Action Teams came together to explore how California can accelerate the growth of middle-income jobs. Not just for today’s middle-class already struggling to preserve their current position, but for the over 8.1 million Californians that live in poverty, the 3.1 million just above the poverty line, and the 6.8 million “economically fragile.”
Participants came together because they realized that now is the time for a crosscutting initiative to accelerate middle-income job growth that delivers stronger integrated solutions—moving beyond our traditional silos of programmatic action.
Success Stories & Framework: This work session began with leaders from across California presenting their initiatives to address job growth challenges. This was followed by a framework for defining solutions that reaffirms that regions are the nexus of job growth and that middle-income job growth comes from enterprise formation, business growth, and industry attraction in three ways:
- Delivering new solutions to specific challenges
- Being more competitive in serving markets, and
- Capturing more economic value regionally (local sourcing).
Further, job growth in any field depends on aligning key economic inputs with each industry’s needs—whether skills, innovation, capital, logistics, resources, governance, marketing or quality of life. No one input alone will enable job formation, expansion or attraction. Moreover, every region needs a diverse portfolio of industries with matching input advantage to grow, sustain and adapt to market changes.
Middle-Income Job Growth Challenges: Participants generated and ranked over 45 job growth challenges, described in detail in the full report. Top challenges included:
- Reducing business costs and cost of living (housing and healthcare).
- Generating 21st-century teachers and capacity to meet skill needs, overcome low attainment, match skills to jobs, and foster entrepreneurs.
- Ensuring innovation flows from universities to markets through new commercialization systems that produce enterprise.
- Improving recognition of the importance and value of manufacturing jobs and growing advanced manufacturing jobs.
Middle-Income Job Growth Actions: The session concluded by brainstorming actions that participants felt could be considered by the Summit as strategies for middle-income job growth:
- Enterprise Formation: Form or expand regional enterprise development and commercialization corporations for disadvantaged communities and new industrial and technology centers to proactively seek, prepare, seed fund, and aggressively build new enterprise deal flow—leveraging community economic development programs, CFDIs, incubator/accelerators.
- Business Adaptation & Expansion: Form regional cluster competitiveness corporations or partnerships to ensure that each cluster is able to adapt, compete and grow on an ongoing basis, coordinating finance and delivery of key private or public inputs to match market-driven needs.
- Industry Attraction: Launch a Strategic Investment Partnership Corporation that actively seeks, proposes, structures and attracts new industry development that aligns with California assets and directions, emphasizing an collaborative “investment banking” model for regional development.
Participants expressed enthusiasm and readiness to continue to collaborate and contribute an action plan for accelerated middle-income job growth to the Summit’s Roadmap to Shared Prosperity.
James Gollub is Managing Director of James Gollub Associates