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Building a Clean Economy for Everyone: The Importance of Community Voice

Building a clean economy that benefits everyone requires more than just technological innovation. It requires prioritizing community voice, listening deeply, and engaging in uncomfortable but necessary conversations. These conversations require radical listening, an approach that involves empathetically engaging with people and deeply understanding their experiences, needs, and values. It requires acknowledging the impact of environmental and systemic injustices and centering the voices of those who have been most affected. Although not always an easy process, it is essential for creating meaningful change. 

Valley Vision held a Building a Community-Centered Clean Economy hybrid event on February 13th centering community voices to advance our region towards a Clean Economy that works for everyone. CEO Evan Schmidt began the event by stating this is a historic time for investment in building a truly inclusive regional economy by valuing and genuinely incorporating the knowledge, experiences, and perspectives of our historically underserved community members.  During the event, a video was shared of previously held Community First Listening sessions across Sacramento, Yolo and Placer counties.  The event also featured a panel discussion of community members sharing their voices on the challenges and barriers to awareness and access to economic opportunities in the expanding clean economy.   

Panel members expressed a clear need to meet people where they are. From youth to experienced adults, panel members discussed a lack of understanding of clean economy careers.  Targeted outreach, engagement and education strategies need to be developed with specific populations in mind considering verbiage choice and modality of communication.  Examples given included youth primarily using online platforms to access resources and information, and older adults benefitting from clearing houses to help them navigate the same.  Another description of this disconnect was the lack of education and training provided to incarcerated individuals in the clean economy and other viable industries to prepare them for immediate, gainful employment post-release. 

Another clear imperative of the panel was to support organizations already doing the work. Nonprofit and grassroots organizations on the ground, in neighborhoods and working with specific, high barrier populations can reach these individuals more effectively. Additionally, these organizations frequently provide more holistic services, meeting basic needs including housing, transportation and other supports to enable historically underserved community members to take advantage of training and employment opportunities. Panel members pointed to GRID Alternatives, Anti-Recidivism Coalition, Center for Employment Opportunities, and Three Sisters Gardens as examples of organizations doing effective work. 

The community panel described feeling fatigued and disconnected from making a real impact on decision making.  When describing the communities they represented, several panel members used the word resilient.  As clarified by Executive Director Kiara Reed of Civic Thread and the panel moderator, “When we say something is resilient, we also have to acknowledge that it has been knocked down and that it’s not sustainable.”  The panel gave another clear mandate, to have a genuine seat at the table and influence when decisions are being made that affect them.  They do not only want their voices to be heard, but also have them meaningfully considered and result in action.  Community member Alfred Melbourne clearly stated, “We need actions, not words. Give us the means, the tools, and the resources to get the job done.”  

The experiences and perspectives shared by community members throughout the event confirmed the rallying cry for a significantly different way of approaching inclusive economic development.  Keynote speaker, Secretary of the California Labor & Workforce Development Agency Stewart Knox, shared that while discussions like these are frequently heard in workforce development conversations, they seldom enter into economic development spheres.  Our panel provided a clear roadmap for economic and workforce development stakeholders: meet people where they are, support organizations already doing the work and give community members a genuine seat at the table and influence in the decisions that affect their lives and livelihoods.  It’s time to address the  significant challenges blocking opportunities to advance in the clean and overall economy for all of our region’s residents.  

Valley Vision is honored to be serving as the convener and fiscal agent for our region’s Community Economic Resilience Fund planning efforts and is committed to working with our regional partners to authentically integrate the perspectives of historically underserved community members into decision-making processes.  If you are interested in joining the Sacramento Region CERF Coalition, please fill out the CERF Interest Form to learn more.

The Greater Sacramento Region’s Workforce: A Status Report

Valley Vision, in partnership with the Greater Sacramento Center of Excellence and other stakeholders, conducted the Employer Survey and Livability Poll in 2022 to understand and inform workforce and economic development planning, including current regional efforts for community college workforce initiatives. This report details a compilation of workforce-specific findings from the research with key takeaways.

Regional Firefighting Careers Advisory

Join us Wednesday, April 5th, from 9:00 AM – 11:30 AM for a virtual Firefighting Regional Advisory focused on current and emerging opportunities in the firefighting industry.

Be a part of the conversation as we discuss opportunities in the firefighting sector and highlight emerging programs in the fire technology sector in the North Region. This advisory will highlight state and local labor market information, and bring together a panel of employers and experts to dive into the specific skills and education needed to build and expand the region’s firefighting workforce.

Register here!

Early Childhood Education Careers Conversation (December 2022)

The Early Childhood Education Careers Conversation Webinar took place on December 6, 2022. This event included a presentation of key findings and recommendations from the recently released Early Childhood Education Workforce Needs Assessment published by the Center of Excellence and Valley Vision. This report detailed the current landscape of the industry, upcoming market pressures, and set forth a series of recommendations for further investigation and possible implementation.

Guest Speaker

  • Aaron Wilcher, Center of Excellence, Greater Sacramento Regional Director


  • Denise Lee, Sacramento Employment & Training Agency, Deputy Director of Children and Family Services
  • Steven Hicks, Sacramento County Office of Education, Early Learning Coordinator
  • Janine Cooper, City of Sacramento, Child Care Project Manager
  • Dr. Ana Garcia Nevarez, California State University, Sacramento, State Project Director for Transforming CA ECE Degrees (UP-LIFT CA Grant)
  • Heidi Keiser, Child Action, Inc., Public Policy Officer
  • Laurie Perry, Sacramento City College, Faculty and Early Learning Childhood Coordinator

Early Childhood Education Workforce Needs Assessment

The Greater Sacramento region Center of Excellence and Valley Vision released the Early Childhood Education (ECE) Workforce Needs Assessment in October 2022. This report details the current landscape of the industry, upcoming market pressures, and sets forth a series of recommendations for further investigation and possible implementation.

Health and Life Sciences Industry Advisory

Join us Friday, December 2nd, from 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM for a virtual Health Services and Life Sciences Regional Advisory focused on current and emerging opportunities in biotechnology. 

As a growing hub for biotechnology companies and medical device startups, including the development of Aggie Square, the demand for individuals with biotechnology-related skills is increasing. This advisory will highlight labor market information, share insights on desired skills, and career opportunities available in the field from employers and industry experts. 

Register today to join the conversation as we explore expanding career possibilities in biotechnology!

Sector Studies: Administration of Justice and Public Safety

Strong Workforce Program (SWP)

The Los Rios Community College District, in partnership with Valley Vision, and in collaboration with Lake Tahoe Community College, Sierra College, and Yuba Community College District, invests Strong Workforce funding to organize and convene Regional Advisories. The objectives of the Regional Advisory meetings are to build strong relationships between employers, educators, and the workforce.

Recordings, presentations, and meeting proceeding reports from the Administration of Justice and Public Safety (ADJ) industry advisories are available here for all workforce development stakeholders.

Valley Vision and partners are working across the region to address the key findings from these Strong Workforce advisories and assessments as part of Developing a Ready Workforce.

Capital Region Advanced Manufacturing Industry Advisory (hybrid)

Join us Thursday, February 9th from 2:00 PM – 5:00 PM for the Capital Region Advanced Manufacturing Industry Advisory at Folsom Lake College Rancho Cordova Center (online option available). This event will focus on the intersection of electronic, mechanical, and information technology occupations across the industry, including the availability of careers for all skill levels, and share initiatives to attract and train diversified talent.

With the greatest manufacturing output in the United States, California is making goods safer, cleaner, and more efficient than any other state. From production to engineering, the manufacturing industry hosts a plethora of job opportunities for potential candidates to choose from. These expansive career avenues offer high wages and job stability not only to those without four-year degrees, but also to the Capital Region’s most underrepresented communities.

This advisory will include a keynote speaker, highlight labor market information, and garner industry expertise from an employer panel sharing the skills and education needed to succeed in the field. It is designed for workforce development partners; community-based organizations; and educators, counselors, and students across our K-16 system. 

Register today to join the conversation and learn more about the breadth of opportunities in Advanced Manufacturing careers!

In-Person Event Details: If you are joining us in person, the event will be hosted in Building 1, RCC1-210 (2nd floor). Free parking is available across the street off Paseo Drive and light refreshments will be provided. You can access the full map of the site here.

ICT Regional Industry Advisory Meeting

Join us Thursday, November 17th from 1:00 PM – 3:00 PM for an Information & Communication Technology Regional Advisory focused on data science, artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning (ML).

These skills and disciplines are highly relevant in a wide range of industries and careers. This advisory will explore the varied applications of data science, AI, and ML across different sectors, present relevant labor market data, and garner insights from an employer and industry panel.

This hybrid event will be held at the Sacramento County Office of Education with an online option available. RSVP today to join the conversation as we explore the expanding roles data science, AI, and ML play in our current and future world of work!

Register here!

Can Employer Training Benefit Your Business? (June 2022)

The “Can Employer Training Benefit Your Business?” webinar, co-hosted by Valley Vision and the Sacramento MetroBusiness Center, took place on Tuesday, June 14th, 2022. This webinar featured an introduction to the MetroBusiness Center’s business support services, an introduction to the Employment Training Panel’s eligibility requirements and benefits, a panel discussion about how to approach applying for ETP, and a Business Spotlight to highlight organizations who utilize ETP funds to upskill their workforce.

The panel featured the following organizations:

  • Mike Snead, President of Sierra Consulting Services
  • Annie Rafferty, Director of Workforce Training & Development at Butte College
  • William Walker, Workforce Development Manager at the Sacramento Employment Training Agency (SETA)

Fall 2021 Forest Sector Workforce Study Report

At Valley Vision’s Spring 2022 Forestry Management Industry Advisory, Melissa Kovacs, Senior Project Analyst at the Center of Economic Development, CSU Chico, presented her findings from the 2021 Forest Sector Workforce Needs Survey. Created in partnership with the Statewide Wildfire and Forest Resiliency Task Force and yielding 113 responses, the survey encompassed forestry management entities across four major task areas: Northern, Sierra & East Side, Coastal, and Southern.

Download and read the full report here.

Forestry Management Regional Industry Advisory

Join us on Thursday, April 28th, 2022 from 3:00 PM – 5:00 PM for a Regional Industry Advisory on career pathways, trends and opportunities related to Forestry Management.

Be a part of the conversation as we discuss opportunities in this emerging sector and highlight two new Forestry Programs in the North Region. Your participation and feedback are valued and will help guide investments in programs, certificates, and curricula that better serve the needs of the Capital Region’s Natural and Environmental Resources workforce. Please RSVP today!