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Building Our Inclusive and Prosperous Economy

By Evan Schmidt

Our region has a tremendous opportunity in front of us with the Community Economic Resilience Fund (CERF) to build an inclusive and prosperous economy for our region. Valley Vision, as the CERF Regional Convener, is leading a $5M planning process over the next year to grow a regional coalition that will identify, build, and advance equity-centered economic development opportunities in our eight-county region including Colusa, El Dorado, Nevada, Placer, Sacramento, Yolo, and Yuba counties. 

In late June, we kicked off our summer-of-learning together for the coalition featuring Professor Manuel Pastor as our guest speaker for our first coalition-wide meeting. Professor Pastor encouraged us to follow three main guiding principles:

  1. Stop talking about “the economy” and start talking about “our economy”: We have ownership over many aspects of our regional economy and this is expressed in how we invest in people, education, communities, and more. Our economic conditions are built by us and we have the ability to build a human-centered economy. 
  1. Treat people fairly and our economy will prosper – economies that reduce income, racial, and geographic divide disparities are able to sustain more economic growth and prosperity over time. Creating equitable opportunities for diverse people is not just morally right, it captures more talent and creates more prosperity and a better quality of life for all.
  1. To effectively disrupt the existing systems of power, we must expand the circle of belonging and invite those in who have been excluded. Doing this will surface tension and potential conflict – we can’t be afraid to face challenging conversations and social dynamics and need to build effective skills and systems within our coalition that will enable us to navigate these challenges. 

The lessons that he imparted to us, as well as his walk-through of our region’s demographic and economic data that reflect opportunity and challenge areas for us, sets the stage for our regional coalition to understand and advance principles and approaches to inclusive economic development in the scope of the CERF process. You can find the recording and Professor Pastor’s slides here

This webinar was the first in a monthly series that will bring in people and examples of inclusive and sustainable economy-building that can help inform and support our coalition as we get deeper into planning and working together as a coalition. Our next learning session is July 27th from 3-5 pm; stay tuned! 

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