Marcos Breton: Optimism is an ingredient of expansion

mbreton@sacbee.comMarch 20, 2013 

Sacramento may lose the Kings, but if that happens through an NBA decision in April to relocate the team to Seattle, there is a better option than mourning a lost asset. It's called turning the page.

In some ways, it's already happening.

Many regional leaders in business, government, and education are trying to confront a community-wide pessimism caused by years of recession. They are trying to change a tired conversation in Sacramento – the one about a government town devoid of economic opportunities and tethered to a boom and bust state budget cycle.

On Tuesday, regional leaders, under the banner of Next Economy, presented a strategy to increase local investment and retain businesses while attracting new ones.

They make no bones about their primary goal: "To accelerate job and wealth creation."

Before you dismiss the effort, as some in Sacramento surely will, consider that the greatest threat to public safety, public education and regional services is a stagnant economy.

Nothing works unless people are working.

In Sacramento, we celebrate the creation of state office buildings, but how about celebrating something else?

"We're trying to change the mindset to celebrate some kid who has a viable business and doing everything we can to support that kid," said Scott Syphax, president & CEO of Nehemiah Corp.

How to do that? Syphax and others involved with Next Economy want to create a regional momentum behind increasing capital for jobs and investment.

They want to prod local banks to be more open to lending to startups and existing businesses with designs to expand.

They are working with UC Davis in hopes of turning cutting-edge agricultural academic research into agricultural industries and jobs in the area.

They are hoping cities and counties from Galt to El Dorado Hills buy in and that nonprofit groups dedicated to promoting Sacramento focus even more on job retention and creation.

Next Economy is being driven by business and civic leaders who are familiar in Sacramento, such as Brice Harris, chancellor of California community colleges. Groups such as the Sacramento Metro Chamber are also involved. It's all very nascent and can seem nebulous.

It's going to take leadership and follow-through to make the abstract a reality.

Quite frankly, it would be very easy to poke holes in this effort. But years of recession have taken a huge economic and emotional toll on the Sacramento region.

The possible departure of the Kings coincides with hopes of a new economic cycle in the next five years. The difference between wallowing in the past or creating a new future is the choice before the Sacramento region now.

What are we going to do?

Call The Bee's Marcos Breton, (916) 321-1096. Back columns, www.sacbee.com/breton. Follow him on Twitter @marcosbreton.

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