By Leidhra Guild

 

Collaboration and inclusion are key to success. This is the message that resonates loudest with me every time I participate in a California Stewardship Network session. It is also the lesson I try to take with me and continue to implement in my day-to-day work.

California Stewardship Network (CSN) is an alliance of regional leaders from throughout California committed to the economic, environmental and social health of our regions and state. I have been fortunate enough to be selected to participate in the 2019-2020 CSN Stewardship Leadership Program, a program designed for both emerging and experienced leaders looking to further develop civic entrepreneurship skills and actively practice stewardship values and a triple bottom line approach (equal consideration of economy, environment and social well-being) when addressing regional and statewide issues.

At our last CSN exchange, we convened in the Inland Empire (IE) for a multiday session looking at a variety of topics including the future of automation and its impact on the workforce. The lessons around automation and the impending changes IE will face were a fascinating, real look at how economies change, and what can be done to prepare for those changes. We learned that the Inland Empire has had the fastest job growth in the state with a large percentage of the jobs being in logistics such as fulfillment centers, but that these jobs are also some of the most likely to be impacted by automation. The future of automation will undoubtedly have an impact on jobs throughout the world, especially in areas like IE, with a high concentration of jobs that are most at risk of being replaced. However, this doesn’t have to mean that all jobs are lost. As we learned at the exchange, being aware of changes to come and taking a proactive approach, can reduce the negative impact. According to Dr. John Husing, Chief Economist for the Empire Economic Partnership, while Inland Empire will lose jobs to automation, new jobs will be created as people will be needed to maintain the robots. With the appropriate planning, the Inland Empire could become a training center for automation maintenance.

During this exchange, we also had the opportunity to hear from Lenny Mendonca, Chief Economic and Business Advisor to Governor Gavin Newsom and Director of the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz), and learn more about California for All and the Regions Rise Together initiative, designed to spur economic growth for inland communities. While this initiative initially focuses on the inland areas, the message “Regions Rise Together” is a message all regions can learn from – each region’s success makes our state stronger, therefore benefiting us all. This message is also something we continue to promote at the Greater Sacramento Economic Council as we promote the #CaliforniaOption and look at megaregion opportunities, encouraging collaboration for benefits that extend beyond any one region.

After this exchange, I left even more aware of the challenges faced throughout our state and how we can learn from each other. I am eager to continue learning about California for All and the Regions Rise Together initiative. Most importantly, I am inspired to continue to look for opportunities to collaborate and support efforts to grow and rise together.

Thank you to everyone who helped make this exchange possible including CSN Network Coordinator, Joanna Wessman; CSN sponsor, Bank of America; and the Inland Empire Economic Partnership.