California was in the vanguard of regional thinking two decades ago, and with the upcoming California Economic Summit on Friday in Santa Clara, we have taken regional thinking -- and more importantly regional action -- to a whole new level. The summit will address actionable priorities in five areas:
Smart workforce: Despite out-of-work Californians, there are not enough qualified workers, even for middle-class manufacturing jobs. We must strengthen the talent pipeline, short-term and long-term, to meet the skill needs of our ever-changing economy. California can do that.
Smart infrastructure: The bill for California's infrastructure neglect is $765 billion, including transportation, water and public facilities. We need world-class infrastructure. The summit will identify ways to improve our existing infrastructure and map out innovative financing for new infrastructure, and it will focus on water, a top San Diego priority. California can solve its infrastructure problem.
Smart innovation: Californians still lead the world in technology, agriculture and entertainment, but we're complacent. Other regions and other nations are closing the gap. With our world-class universities, there is more we can do to move ideas from the lab to the market and to help entrepreneurs succeed. Policies that foster innovation across all industries are critical to regional economies, so the summit will identify the next best ways to connect, feed and entertain the world. California can remain the leader in innovation.
Smart capital: Creating jobs takes money. At every regional forum, entrepreneurs implored: Help us find the money! We can leverage existing resources, identify ways to invest locally, including a California version of crowdfunding, and expand on the linkages that help ensure young businesses succeed. Californians want to invest in and buy from Californians, given the chance. California can connect entrepreneurs with capital.
Smart regulations: California is said to be a tough place to do business. Regional forum participants said "more red carpet and less red tape," and offered ideas that protect the intent of California's key environmental regulation, CEQA -- high environmental standards -- but limit the actions of those who use CEQA for non-environmental reasons. The regional forums also explored ways to streamline permitting of all kinds. California can maintain the highest environmental standards and be streamlined, certain and business-friendly.