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Our Predictions for 2019

“Nothing we can do can change the past, but everything we do changes the future.” – Ashleigh Brilliant

In this final post of 2018, I wanted to write to you about some predictions we have for the coming year, and our hopes for you and our communities at the holidays.

Our regional economy will grow by another $5 billion next year. It’s been growing at that clip for the past four years, and despite global head winds, it’s likely to happen again, raising our total Regional GDP to about $130 billion annually. If you didn’t already know, we have one of the nation’s biggest economies – we are in the top 10% of all regional economies in the US today in terms of economic output.

While the regional economy will grow larger, inequity will get worse. Middle-wage jobs are more scarce these days, while jobs at the top and bottom of the scale and bottom are growing. If you have a good education and workplace skills, you’ll earn a good livable wage. If you are entry level, or lack the skills or training for the increasingly technical or digital jobs available, then service jobs will be your best (and maybe only) option. For most people, this needs to be the start of their careers, not the end of their economic fortunes. That’s why we at Valley Vision are so focused on helping students, employers, universities, workforce boards and schools prepare for this new future of work, creating a talent pipeline that includes everyone. Nearly one-third of our work directly relates to this purpose.

In 2019, a bunch of really important decisions affecting the lives of you and your family will be made. If you live in Sacramento, the people at city hall, with input from various communities, will decide the priorities for a long-term jobs strategy, how to spend millions from the Measure U tax increase, and how best to help under-represented school kids dealing with the potential bankruptcy facing the Sacramento City Unified School District. Regionally, big choices are coming for what type of housing, growth, and mobility investments we will make for the next generation. Being plugged into these decisions is important to your wellbeing. Valley Vision will be more than watching; we’ll be directly engaged with our region’s leadership, advocating for solutions that balance equity, economy, and environmental sustainability.

Harder to predict, but still inevitable, are the ways that coming shifts in mobility and new technologies will affect how we live, and the form and shape our communities will take. We are going to see more autonomous vehicles on our streets and universities’ campuses, new electric fleets, more bikes and scooters, and new applications that can help us get where we need to go easily and without a huge price tag.

In so many ways, the headquarters for the State of California is the likeliest place in the world to test the latest innovations that are transforming our buildings and streets, how we get our food, our sources of energy, and transportation. This is not only because California is setting the pace globally on these issues with new policies and technologies, but also because we have vast sections of our cities in the Capital Region that can be re-built – often from scratch – with the latest technologies and cutting-edge materials, as well as break-through designs and modern conveniences geared for the future.

For our part, Valley Vision is doing what we can to champion this region’s ability to serve as a “test bed” and incubator for new technologies and applications aimed at solving urban problems – as a fiscal sponsor for local governments, businesses, and utilities for new cutting-edge mobility enterprises; as a project manager driving changes in policy that focus on future needs; and as an independent researcher and catalyst.

2018 has been a formative year. Strong foundations have been laid and things feel more certain (or at least known). The region’s business, government, education, and community groups seem to be coming together, sharing effort, trusting each other more versus going it alone. New leaders are settling into their posts and getting things sorted out. More seasoned leaders in our neighborhoods, governments, and businesses are actively working with others to fulfill their promises. 2019 will put it all to the test as these decisions come up and the stakes rise. We are at a turning point.

Our wish for you? Participate: the voices of those whose lives are directly impacted need to be heard now more than ever in boardrooms and council chambers. Encourage: tell those who represent you that you expect them to work collaboratively with others, including people with whom they don’t instantly agree, because we are better together. Hold them to account for this. Remember, they work for you, not the other way around. Last, love always: love your family and your community. Be involved. This is most important and what no one can do but you. Throughout time, positive change has always begun here.

The future remains bright, if we make it together.

Happy holidays from the team at Valley Vision! To keep up with Valley Vision’s work to advance livability in the Sacramento region, subscribe to our Vantage Point email newsletter!

Bill Mueller was Valley Vision’s Chief Executive.