Growing the Central Valley Economy

150 150 Ed Coghlan

(Photo Credit: John Martinez Pavliga/Flickr)

What can California’s Central Valley do to mobilize itself to accelerate its competitiveness in the global marketplace?

That question and others drew over a hundred business, civic and educational leaders to Harris Ranch Friday in an event sponsored by the West Hills Community College District.

Lynda Resnick, Vice Chair and Co-Owner of The Wonderful Company, inspired the audience as she detailed her leadership to give back, especially in the communities in which its employees live and work. The collective work of The Wonderful Company has enriched the lives of more than 60,000 Central Valley youth. reported on the creative middle college program whose partners included Wonderful Company, which employs some 4,000 Central Valley workers, brought to the Valley.

Note: The Wonderful Company was formerly known as Roll Global as recently as last spring when this story was written.

Stu Van Horn is the Vice-Chancellor for Educational Services and Workforce Development for West Hills and said the day was highly productive and that the best case for the future of the Central Valley’s agriculture based-economy will require a number of things:

  • Creative thinking from the public policy sector;
  • Putting a “face” on the Valley and individual lives affected, emphasizing the continuing drought, pending fracking legislation, and burgeoning trade and logistics sectors in the seven county region known as the San Joaquin Valley;
  • Accessing and employing the most effective tools from science, engineering and technology to responsibly advance technological applications;
  • Building coalitions to ensure adequate resources and investment in the Central Valley during what is likely to be a dramatic transition period;
  • Focusing locally on training and retaining that will help boost opportunities for employment and contribute to an improved quality of life as the region continues its transformation to a progressively more sustainable future.

The theme of the event was titled Shifting Ground: Adapting the San Joaquin Valley Economy to a Changing Climate.

“Global needs require Central Valley responses; this theme was pervasive throughout the day-long event,” Van Horn said.

CA Fwd CEO Jim Mayer was a participant in the event and said the right people were in the room and the key is to capitalize on the energy and ideas that were discussed.

“A unified Central Valley on issues like expanding and improve workforce development and attracting more capital investment to the growing ag technology eco systems can fuel a strong middle class in the Valley specifically and California as a whole,” said Mayer. “What happens from this meeting to turning conversation into real policy will be important.”

Van Horn agreed and said an actions outcome report will be issued soon.

To look at participants and past events in this Essential Elements series produced by the West Hills Community College District, visit here.

The theme of regional economic advancement is an underpinning of the California Economic Summit annual meeting which is slated for November 12 and 13 in Ontario, California. One of the issues it is addressing is California’s need for training one million middle skill workers than the system is currently producing. To register for the Summit, click here.


Ed Coghlan

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