Project: SLINGSHOT: SUPPORTING INNOVATION

To boost the innovation environment in California’s Capital region, bolster high-revenue producing employment sectors and effectively compete in a globalized, information-age economy, entrepreneurship, new startups and human capital must permeate the economy. The Sacramento region contains many of the necessary ingredients to support entrepreneurs and small businesses, but sustained success requires a robust network of investors, assistance providers, sources of innovative products and services, and a skilled workforce.

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.

What is the goal?

The goal is to catalyze leadership and engagement from regional entrepreneurs and businesses in order to strengthen the Capital Region’s innovation ecosystem, and to stimulate innovation and new company creation by creating the conditions to grow emerging industries and new businesses.

Why is this important?

This work is important because small business and startups serve as major job engines, accounting for 60-85% of new employment in the Sacramento region and making up more than 90 percent of all businesses in the metropolitan area. At the same time, the region lacks sufficient infrastructure for startup companies and small business growth, putting the region at a disadvantage when compared to other regions nationally.

How does this improve people’s lives?

Entrepreneurism and small business growth is a cornerstone of the regional economy, yet underperforming in the Sacramento region. Innovative businesses—both startups and more established firms—increase economic productivity, making rising wages and income mobility possible. Supporting entrepreneurs and small business offers direct economic growth outcomes focused on targeting disadvantaged or under-represented populations in entrepreneurism and business startups. SlingShot is designed to provide economic opportunity and multiple entries for diverse populations. Without strategic action to strengthen the ecosystem, some groups, such as disadvantaged or underserved communities, could be left out of the innovation economy in the region.

What is Valley Vision’s role?

We know that strengthening the region’s innovation capacity requires a broad-based, collaborative approach that mobilizes the region’s innovation assets. Serving as the initiative’s backbone organization and project coordinator, Valley Vision is working with the four regional Workforce Development Boards to leverage a $1 million grant to create a seed fund for the innovation ecosystem across the region’s six most predominant growth clusters. This includes working closely with a strong network of regional, state and federal partners and employers to build on existing assets, fill gaps, identify potential models and define the actions and measurements needed for a cohesive, high performance entrepreneurial ecosystem.

What is our desired impact?

The SlingShot project will result in an implementation plan and systems that support innovation for nine counties surrounding California’s state capital: Alpine, Colusa, El Dorado, Glenn, Placer, Sacramento, Sutter, Yolo, and Yuba. SlingShot is designed to build existing assets for entrepreneurs, identify gaps in resources, strengthen the entrepreneurial ecosystem, and support business-led solutions. The effort also seeks alignment of economic development, workforce development and education strategies and shared goals among private and public stakeholders. By putting into practice collaborative mechanisms to accelerate the development of new technologies and industries, SlingShot is paving the way for a more robust innovation economy and helping to transform the culture of innovation in the region.

When?

Valley Vision began the SlingShot planning phase for the Capital Region in May 2014 which resulted in a $1 million grant from the California Workforce Development Board. SlingShot implementation began in Fall 2016. The project is ongoing.

Our partners …

SlingShot is a statewide program being implemented locally through a partnership with the Sacramento Employment and Training Agency (SETA), Golden Sierra, the North Central Counties Consortium, and the Yolo County WDB, with SETA acting as the lead partner and Valley Vision being the project manager.

Some results …

SlingShot partners have been working together since May 2014 to pursue and build collaboration across the nine county geographic region. SlingShot has resulted in ~$750K to support innovation, entrepreneurs, and startups in the region. The Sacramento Employment and Training Agency released RFPs in Winter 2016-17 to support business mentorship, maker spaces/incubators/accelerators, and a web-based resource navigators.

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