FRESNO, California (KSEE) — Leaders all over the state have gathered in Fresno to work together and find a solution to the biggest challenges facing California. Those from the area showcased the Central Valley’s strengths and weaknesses, reminding the room a stronger Central Valley means a stronger state.
As the saying goes, it takes a village. It’s the philosophy non-profit California Forward operates on when putting together the California Economic Summit.
For the next two days, around 900 leaders will be working side-by-side on issues like housing, education and bolstering the workforce.
“We all need food, we need water, we need a workforce,” California Forward CEO Micah Weinberg said. “We believe we need to lift all regions together. Therefore, we need policies that work in all regions of the state.”
A lot of the issues are key to the needs of the Central Valley. Many speakers from Fresno took the moment to highlight areas of improvement that would help with the valley’s growth. For example, Fresno’s unemployment rate is above the state average but there seems to be a lack of space for industrial businesses to move here.
Former Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin and current Mayor Lee Brand stressed that a robust Fresno economy is critical to the overall economic well-being of the state.
“Thank you all for being here to address the issues that will define the future, not only for Fresno and the Central Valley but for all of California,” said Brand.
Some words shared Thursday resulted in action. The state’s Chief Service Officer Josh Fryday announced $13 million is coming to the Central Valley to create service opportunities.
“This money will create hundreds of jobs and opportunities in the region throughout the Central San Joaquin Valley. This money will hit the streets this year,” Fryday said.
Governor Gavin Newsom will be at the summit on Friday as the keynote speaker. University of California President Janet Napolitano will also be there to speak on a panel about student access in higher education.