News Releases

California Partnership for the San Joaquin Valley

Sunday, Oct. 02, 2011 | 12:00 AM

For far too many years, the San Joaquin Valley's legislative needs were ignored by lawmakers and
governors who focused their attention on more populous parts of the state. That changed in 2005
when then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger created the California Partnership for the San Joaquin
Valley. The public-private partnership has continued under Gov. Jerry Brown.

On Friday, partnership officials will meet in Bakersfield for its 2011 summit, bringing together state
officials and representatives of the Valley counties between San Joaquin and Kern. It will be a time
to celebrate the partnership's successes and plan strategies to attack the region's shortcomings.
The partnership work has given the Valley an important sense of a regional identity and introduced
elected officials and civic and business leaders to each other.

After all, the problems facing Stockton, Modesto, Fresno and Bakersfield are similar --
unemployment and the lack of a highly trained work force, poor air quality, an inconsistent water
supply for agricultural uses.

The Valley also receives substantially less per capita funding than the averages for California and
the nation.

"The partnership is helping to raise the profile of the Valley in Sacramento and D.C.," said Mayor
Ashley Swearengin, who chairs the partnership board. "In a state this size, the Valley has often
gotten lost in the shuffle. Through the partnership's collaborative efforts, the Valley is drawing
attention from private investors as well as policymakers at the state and national level."
The partnership has three main goals: Develop a prosperous economy for the region, create a
quality environment and achieve social equity.

Within those goals are six major initiatives: Build a 21st century transportation system; grow a
diversified globally competitive economy; create a model public school system; develop high-quality
health and human services; attain clean-air standards, and implement a framework for sustainable

Friday's all-day summit in Bakersfield will feature a keynote speech by Marek Gootman of the
Brookings Institution. He'll talk about strategies to improve metropolitan areas. Gov. Brown's cabinet
secretaries also will participate in the summit.

The Valley partnership has become a model for regional governance and planning and how to
leverage the strengths of the public and private sectors. We've come from barely knowing elected
officials from outside our county to communicating regularly with representatives across the eight

With the change of administrations in January, there was a question of whether Gov. Brown would
continue the partnership. But the new governor was persuaded of its importance, and he continued
the commitment to the project and having his cabinet secretaries being involved.

The partnership's work has improved the Valley by focusing on the region's issues and getting the
state to put resources into much-needed local projects. It has also enabled the Valley to consolidate
its political strength so the region won't be ignored in Sacramento. This group has shown what the
Valley can do when it works together.

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