Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Bulletin 4.22.09

Planting the See for a New Economy & the RJI Transition

What a difference five years make. When the Regional Jobs Initiative launched in 2003 to fundamentally change they way we think, act and invest in economic development, we were just beginning to develop our collaborative skills. Today, with the launch of the next version, a joint venture between Fresno State and the Economic Development Corporation, collaboration is normal operating procedure. The RJI also added two other key commitments--a passion for excellence and an ongoing focus on innovation. This new culture has spilled over into other sectors along with the ten Community Values and has become what Fresno is known for across the state.

Kudos to all the presenters at today's Fifth Annual Meeting of the RJI and those that helped pull the event together behind the scenes. A large crowd at Tornino's heard Mike Dozier, the new director of the Office of Community and Economic Development discuss the the transition of the RJI and the critical role of the California Partnership for the San Joaquin Valley. Following Mike, a panel discussed "Leveraging RJI Resources For Your Business' Success". This team was kicked off by Professor Timothy Stearns, executive director of the Lyles Center. He focused on three areas for wealth creation--innovation, entrepreneurship and captial. The Lyles Center is spreading this message to young people reaching into high schools, grade schools and community colleges across our region.

Travis Sheridan, director of member services at the Central Valley Business, Incubator explained how existing businesses are thinking about themselves as start-ups as they change course and add new lines to make it through the changing economy. The first goal is profitability. This leads to wealth creation and jobs. He also talked about our world leadership in water technology and the huge opportunities the water technology cluster holds for our region.

Blake Konczal, CEO of the Workforce Investment Board, detailed new and restored programs for businesses. Funds are available to employers who could retain employees if they were retrained. The youth employment program has been restored with funds for 3,000 youth for six weeks. All salary and benefits will be picked up via government funds.

Steve Geil finished up with an overview of the new EDC--"our staff is your staff." The BEAR Network, winner of a statewide award, turns one staff person into six by tapping resources of other agencies. He talked about wealth being about more than money; it is first class healthcare, first class arts and culture and first class education.

Financial Advice for Today's Economy

A second panel kicked off with Riley Walter who discussed what he is seeing as a bankruptcy attorney across the region. While much of the report was grim, he noted that angel capital is on the increase. People are demonstrating that the economy is beginning to turn around and those who have charted an effective course can capitalize. Dan Doyle, president of Central Valley Community Bank, offered his insights as a seasoned banker who has experienced a number of downturns. He talked about the importance of communicating with all partners, employees and customers. He also said banks are lending, it's a matter of sector. He talked about the importance of morale and the basics of self care. He said one thing local governments can do to help is keep their money in local banks. Brad Triebsch, a partner in Central Valley Fund talked about the difficulty of finding capital, the growth of angel networks and the importance of setting clear priorities in terms of customers.

Focus on the Future
Mayor Ashley Swearengin completed the program by telling the transformation journey beginning with the Collaborative Regional Initiative and the release of the Community Values. She emphasized that the reason we collaborate is to achieve better outcomes for the community at lower cost. Self interest and limited thinking had held us back for too long. She urged everyone to stay focused on their unique part, be extremely honest with one another and aim for excellence across the board. If you are charged to it. If not, be an excellent follower. Bottom lines--be honest, be excellent, be connected and be ready. As a community, we will achieve the extraordinary.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

FBC Bulletin--April 13, 2009

April 13, 2009

Welcome to the Next Iteration of the FBC Weekly Bulletin

The Past

Since the early 90’s, we have sent a weekly message to our members, originally by fax and then by email. We sought to deepen our understanding of issues, keep people informed about progress, and encourage engagement in projects and events. Once the Collaborative Regional Initiative launched in 2000, we included our partners on the distribution list. With the launch of Regional Jobs Initiative in 2003 and the Human Investment Initiative in 2007, the depth and breadth of activities and participants has multiplied exponentially.

New Approach

Our plan is to provide regular updates in three interdependent spheres of work:
Economic Development
Infrastructure Development

Each sphere has strong leaders and a growing network of people working on specific projects. The leaders are “tri-lingual” in that they understand that all spheres are equally important, have a working understanding of the primary strategies in each one and are in regular communication with their counterparts in order to maximize opportunities to support one another.

Collaboration is Crucial
Gaining a sense of urgency due to economic upheaval, communities across the country are working hard to develop collaborative skills in order to align resources behind priorities. Fortunately, in Fresno we have had a lot of practice and thanks to the California Partnership for the San Joaquin Valley, , our region has also developed collaborative skills.

New Website
While we have the same web address, thanks to Cynthia Downing at Professional Exchange Services, we have a new website that is interactive and will enable us to distribute real time information to those interested in more timely updates in areas of interest. The website is Also, on the site, you will find links to our partners, action plans and other documents. Anyone interested in receiving the bulletin can simply sign up on the site.

Communication Goals

While sharing information is central the purpose of the bulletin, our goal is to provide an added value—an attempt to help answer an ongoing question, so what does it all mean? While only a perception, our most active members and partners are in a position to see how the pieces fit together and where progress is happening in key strategies. In addition, we hope that you will be inspired by a project, issue or initiative and get engaged where you can have the greatest impact.