Next Economy plan sets goals for economy's transformation

Sacramento civic leaders this morning unveiled a five-year blueprint that aims to transform the capital area, adding 35,000 jobs and $5.3 billion beyond expected growth through 2017.

In a concerted effort to keep the plan relevant in the months and years that follow today’s unveiling, the long-awaited “Next Economy” plan assign deadlines and responsibilities to organizations involved in the effort.

“It’s going to take hard work, and at times it’s going to be messy,” said Valley Vision board chairman Scott Syphax at a news conference.

The nonprofit economic development organization is among several business-oriented nonprofits behind the Next Economy effort.

“We’re at a very important transition point,” moving into the execution phase, said Brice Harris, chancellor of the California Community Colleges system and a member of the planning leadership group.

“What is certain is that doing things the way we have always done them will not bring economic prosperity to our region,” said city of Sacramento Manager John Shirey.

Success of the effort will mean measuring growth in jobs and economic output beyond growth that was already expected.

The Next Economy project sets five main goals:

  • Foster an environment that rewards innovation
  • Strengthen the region’s global market clout
  • Diversify the region’s economy
  • Increase the depth of local talent
  • Drive change that will encourage economic growth

The plan breaks these goals down into objectives and then into strategies. These, in turn, are broken down into actions that are assigned to specific organizations and due in specified years.

Toward the first goal of fostering innovation, for example, one objective is expanding business access to capital. One strategy for accomplishing this is to “strengthen relationships with external funding sources.” And one of the related actions is to expand and develop connections with investment funds and networks in the Bay Area.

The Next Economy plan says this step is due in the fourth quarter of 2013. Sacramento Area Regional Technology Alliance, as “coordinating champion” of the objective, is responsible for seeing that it gets done.

Four economic-development nonprofits — Valley Vision, Sacramento Area Commerce & Trade Organization, SARTA and the Sacramento Metro Chamber — will be main stewards of the effort.

Leaders of the chamber are proposing a more formal alliance of the groups under a single board in part out of concern that loosely affiliated organizations will not be as effective in pushing the Next Economy agenda. That idea has met some resistance from the other organizations, however, and discussions remain at an early stage.

Next Economy project planning to date was supported by a $50,000 grant from the Morgan Family Foundation and matching funds from many companies, universities, nonprofits and government agencies. Organizers are raising another $80,000 to pay for ongoing administration, which will include a website that will track the campaign’s progress.

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