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Innovate Sac Showcases New Partnerships and Cutting-Edge Tech

Following the announcement of Dale and Katy Carlsen’s $6 million gift to Sacramento State, which will establish the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Sac State’s Alumni Center was the perfect backdrop for Innovate Sac. The event, one of a series of activities planned during Global Entrepreneurship Week, served as the launch for the vision of the City of Sacramento’s Urban Technology Lab (SUTL), an initiative of the City of Sacramento.

The event was presided over by Monique Brown, of iHub, who set the stage for the event and was followed by an energetic presentation by President Robert Nelsen who shared his vision for the region as a center for innovation, and the importance of the new Center as a symbol of prosperity for the entire Sacramento region.

Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg gave an inspiring presentation on the growing significance of Sacramento as a key innovation partner, an idea supported by several innovative projects from high-profile companies and organizations launching initiatives at our doorstep, from Verizon’s 5G Network to an autonomous vehicle partnership. Addressing the theme of community and improving the lives of all, Mayor Steinberg went on to address more serious social matters including a $100 million pilot project that had been approved to support homeless services across the City and County. He closed out his presentation with a call to action to continue to raise Sacramento’s profile by communicating these successes through our own networks.

The event’s headline speakers Aaron Frank, Faculty at Singularity University and Dr. Austin Brown, Executive Director of the UC Davis Policy Institute for Energy, Environment, and the Economy, followed suit. Both touched upon the reasons for the exponential growth in technology advancement we are witnessing and how increased accessibility to the common man will further speed up innovation and disruption across all industries. Mr. Frank’s presentation explored the impact of Moore’s Law on technology from batteries to computers and offered us a glimpse into the future of what might be. He then went on to address the seismic shifts in workforce that we need to be prepared to address. Dr. Brown of UC Davis, spoke on the positive impacts of technology advancements on the environment and overall efficiencies that technology was bringing to society. He went on to address the risks associated with unintended consequences that were by nature inherent to technology advancements and which consumed a majority of his team’s energy and focus as they attempt to identify issues and mitigate their negative effects.

Louis Stewart, Sacramento’s recently-appointed Chief Innovation Officer, closed out the event with a brief presentation of the proposed SUTL. The Lab will serve to engage the community to transform Sacramento into a living laboratory to develop, test, deploy, replicate, and scale new technologies, products, and services that will accelerate quality of life improvements for all residents.  Mr. Stewart went on to highlight that advances in technology and technology for technology’s sake are not what drives Sacramento nor its policies and projects, but rather how technology can help the greater good so that everyone benefits. Sacramento, he stated, is well positioned to be competitive across numerous industries including urban technology, biotech, and Agtech.

The event was an encouraging reminder that our ability to shift and evolve as a region to benefit from these technological advancements is by working together. Without the support of our local employers and the academic community in the region we cannot build a skilled and viable workforce that can address changing occupational demands. We cannot properly fund essential programs nor create effective policy without the support of our city leaders and non-profit organizations.

At Valley Vision we know this to be true and since 1994, we have driven transformative change for Northern California. Our contributions have improved quality of life by building strong communities, a healthy environment, and economic vibrancy.  Valley Vision has an active portfolio of projects focused on innovation (Slingshot) and workforce development projects (Capital Region Workforce Action Plan) supported by key partners such as JP Morgan Chase, Los Rios Community College District and the regional Workforce Development Boards.

Take a moment to learn more about these exciting developments in our region led by Valley Vision:

  • Slingshot: SlingShot is an initiative of the California Workforce Development Board (CWDB) to encourage and support regional partnerships across the state to engage in new collective actions around innovation workforce challenges.  The Sacramento region’s SlingShot project is focused on building an ecosystem where innovation thrives, and business startups can be successful.
  • Capital Region Workforce Action Plan: Currently we have four independent and active projects that are set on achieving the same outcome: to develop a seamless, collaborative and equitable system which engages all levels of academia, employers, regional political leaders, Chambers of Commerce, PBIDs, Workforce Development Boards and non-profits to assure a strong and viable workforce and as a result a vibrant economy that benefits all levels of our community.

Authored by Lucie-Anne Radimsky, with contributions from Trish KellyTammy Cronin, and Meg Arnold.

707 Is Rising

Region Rising.  That’s what Valley Vision branded our first-ever regional town hall back in 2015, produced with our government partner SACOG.

But it wasn’t this innovative conference that drew 1,000 participants that kept coming to my mind at last week’s California Economic Summit in San Diego.  It was a single region.  The counties of Sonoma, Mendocino, Napa, Lake, and Solano now working jointly.  People and institutions rising after the wildfires that killed 43, destroyed 8,400 structures, and laid waste to a land mass equal to the size of 13 cities – each the size of San Francisco.

A special session organized by Sonoma County Supervisor James Gore one evening drew dozens of political and business leaders from across the state, matched by their own school, business, government and community service leadership.  We sat in a circle, looking eye-to-eye at each other, seeking to understand the extent of the damage to lives and property, and what was needed next.  The stories were riveting.

One story hit me deeply:  A mother admonishing her teenage son on his way home from college to keep his eyes on the road when driving down Highway 101.  The devastation is so jarring, drivers get fixated on the apocalyptic scene, lose track of where they are, and crash into each other.  Another: A wife and husband, already struggling to make ends meet, pay their mortgage bill this month on a house that is now an ash heap.

While you couldn’t help but be deeply moved by countless stories of personal loss and suffering, the conversation didn’t stay there long.  The focus instead was on action.

Attending as a friend of Sonoma County leaders and as co-chair of the California Stewardship Network, it was clear to me that this is not a disaster impacting a few, but instead thousands.  Area residents are making decisions now (or over the next few weeks) about whether they will stay and rebuild their lives or leave the area or even the state. I asked Supervisor Gore, “How are you and others staying in touch with residents to know their needs and to make decisions based on real-time information?”

His response drew the room quiet, “Our first action was to teach community organizing,” he said.  “In town hall meetings attended by hundreds of people across the fire-impacted areas we placed big blown-up maps of the cities on easels and trained people to organize at the block level to form a support network,” Gore explained.  Neighbors selected their own leaders to support and serve them.  People stepped up. Communication is disseminated instantly using Facebook or Twitter… emerging needs are raised.  “It’s just how we do things in Sonoma County,” Supervisor Gore said matter-of-factly.  “I stay in touch with these new community leaders – we all do…” as he looked around the room.

In the wake of events like these, I was reminded again of the very best aspects of humankind.  Selfless acts.  Neighbor helping neighbor.  Government moving smartly and swiftly to provide the right safety net services to those who need it most, coordinating closely with nonprofits doing the same.  Businesses mobilizing and rebuilding, providing both the philanthropy and investment capital necessary for forward progress.  More real-world proof of the power of networks to improve people’s lives.

The devastation is also driving unprecedented conversations and collaboration across city and county boundaries.  California, the nation-state, is actually a state of regions – areas with distinct but connected economies, transportation networks, workforce, and food systems, all interlaced.  It’s a truth upon which the California Economic Summit is based and policy advanced.

I witnessed this again and again over two days with my peers from across California on affordable housing, water and workforce, punctuated this year by new needs rising from the wine country fires.  These local leaders aren’t talking about rebuilding communities that once were, but instead seizing this awful moment to accelerate well-thought-out plans that pre-existed the fires to transform their communities to be more prosperous, just and sustainable – but 5-15 years faster than earlier envisioned.  They need the State’s help to do so, and the State is responding.

We will see this on display when the California Economic Summit is held in Sonoma County next fall.  They will have much to teach us about resiliency.

James Gore ended the meeting with a comment that this region might be called “707” for short after the area code that covers them all.  Short.  Memorable.  Everyone smiled.

707 is rising.

Bill Mueller was Chief Executive of Valley Vision.

Visit Sacramento & Valley Vision Announce New Farm-to-Fork Partnership

Organizations will work in tandem to promote and grow the region’s food and agricultural efforts

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Visit Sacramento announced today that it will partner with regional leadership organization Valley Vision to enhance the Sacramento region’s America’s Farm-to-Fork Capital identity.

Visit Sacramento took on the development of a program around farm-to-fork after the region was declared America’s Farm-to-Fork Capital in 2012. Since that time, the destination marketing organization has led the effort to grow farm-to-fork into a year-round national identity that has been embraced throughout the greater Sacramento area. Over the last five years, Visit Sacramento has shared the region’s farm-to-fork story with tour operators, visitors and travel media across the country, while helping to guide local programs and endeavors that bring farm-to-fork to life for the community.

“When we set out to make a year-round initiative around farm-to-fork, we never would have believed how far the concept would have come in just five years,” said Visit Sacramento President and CEO Mike Testa. “As we moved into our fifth year, we were looking for a strategic partner that could help us take farm-to-fork to the next level. The partnership with Valley Vision will allow Visit Sacramento to concentrate on our strength areas of sales and marketing, while Valley Vision simultaneously continues the growth of the program in other areas.”

In its new role, Valley Vision will work to extend the reach and impact of farm-to-fork, with the organization taking over Visit Sacramento’s farm-to-fork committees and expanding the network of partners, continuing research work around regional food and agriculture, and helping to facilitate solutions to related issues. Visit Sacramento will continue to lead marketing for the region’s farm-to-fork identity, along with hosting the annual Legends of Wine event, Farm-to-Fork Festival and Tower Bridge Dinner in September. Proceeds from the Tower Bridge Dinner will also continue to be used to fund initiatives such as the Sacramento Food Bank and Family Services’ fresh produce drive and the Visit Sacramento CAMP scholarship at Sacramento State.

“We are excited to lift up all the people, the data, and the inspirational stories that make us the nation’s farm-to-fork capital,” said Valley Vision CEO Bill Mueller. “By drawing on Valley Vision’s two decades of work supporting the growth of the food and agriculture sector – from close ties with local farmers, restaurateurs and food access organizations to statewide associations and our ties to federal agencies, Valley Vision can bring additional breadth and depth to this initiative.”


About Visit Sacramento

Visit Sacramento is a non-profit, destination marketing organization funded by the City of Sacramento, the County of Sacramento a local hotel self-assessment and business membership throughout the greater Sacramento region. As the premier economic development and services organization for the region’s convention and tourism industry, Visit Sacramento develops and executes sales, marketing and customer service programs to help strengthen the regional economy, as well as the bottom lines of our member businesses and marketing partners.  Brands operating under the Visit Sacramento umbrella include America’s Farm-to-Fork CapitalSacramento Sports Commission (Sac Sports), Sacramento365 (a joint partnership with Convention & Cultural Services and the Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission), Sacramento Film Commission (Film Sacramento) and Sac Event Crew.

About Valley Vision

Valley Vision has inspired change for a better, more livable future across California’s capital region for more than two decades. Using our expertise in research and collaborative strategies, along with our expert knowledge of the region’s food and agriculture sector that we’ve built over two decades, Valley Vision has long been committed to growing the many assets found in our local food economy. We work on a variety of food system initiatives and are known as a regional leader in food, agriculture and related health systems. Valley Vision led the creation of the Sacramento Region Food System Action Plan, the region’s roadmap for advancing the food system, and we are the regional lead for the federal designation of the Central Valley as a manufacturing community, AgPlus Food and Beverage Manufacturing Consortium. Our initiatives focus on pioneering innovations to make food and ag sustainable, healthy, productive and accessible, from strengthening our agricultural heritage to expanding our food processing and manufacturing sector to helping increase markets for local goods.