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Regions Rise Together Focusing On Equity & Recovery in 2020

JULY 29, 2020 By  CA FWD

(Photo: Russell Mondy/Flickr & Mark Miller/Wikimedia)

Efforts to understand the economic challenges and assets of California’s diverse regions has become even more vital during the COVID-19 pandemic.


In 2019, Regions Rise Together was launched by the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz), the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research (OPR) in partnership with California Forward (CA Fwd) and our California Stewardship Network.


The effort continues in 2020 with strategy sessions focused on inclusive regional planning as a centerpiece of the economic recovery to develop high-road economic development and a more sustainable economy.


“CA Fwd is proud to take the lead on Regions Rise Together in 2020 with an expanded effort that has taken on even more urgency due to the public health crisis induced recession and the need to address long-standing racial inequities in the state,” said Micah Weinberg, CEO of CA Fwd.


Last week, a diverse group of cross-sector partners took the next step in advancing their inclusive planning process, holding meetings for the Salinas Valley and the North San Joaquin Valley regions.


Regions Rise Together Salinas Valley


Led by the Monterey Bay Economic Partnership and CA Fwd, regional partners met with Sankofa Consulting who provided an overview of the framework they will be using to facilitate the group's inclusive planning process, which will yield a long-term investment plan for the region.


“Our local team has placed racial equity at the center of this work since our very first meeting,” said Kate Roberts, president and CEO of the Monterey Bay Economic Partnership. “We are excited about the opportunity to create a blueprint that outlines a pathway to impact, and the sequence of activities and investments needed to achieve an inclusive economy. This project has the potential to unlock current barriers by addressing their root causes.”


Next steps for this process will include a series of informational interviews with regional stakeholders during the month of August.


Roberts added, “Now, in this time of COVID-19, the need for an inclusive economic plan is more critical than ever."


Regions Rise Together North San Joaquin Valley


CA Fwd joined the Community Foundation of San Joaquin, City of Merced, and Stanislaus Community Foundation in co-hosting an exploratory meeting with more than 40 cross-sector leaders from the Counties of Merced, San Joaquin and Stanislaus.


“Even though it’s challenging to think long-term in the midst of a crisis, it’s actually the perfect opportunity to imagine new identities, investments and infrastructure that can be more resilient, more just, and more equitable,” said Marian Kaanon, president and CEO of the Stanislaus Community Foundation. “Our virtual convening sparked inspiration and commitment to rebuild our economy in new ways, and we’re incredibly excited to begin this work together.”


Participants heard from an impressive lineup of speakers, which included CA Fwd CEO Micah Weinberg and Egon Terplan of California Strategic Growth Council who both emphasized the importance of acting regionally as civic stewards with a triple-bottom-line framework of equity, environment and economy.


Dr. Jeffrey Michael from the University of the Pacific presented compelling data making the case for a three-county identity that in many ways is interconnected and interdependent on the neighboring regions of Greater Sacramento, San Joaquin Valley and the Northern California mega region.


“If we have learned anything from the COVID-19 pandemic it is that the time to re imaging the future is now,” said Stephanie Dietz, interim city manager for the City of Merced. “Our community is counting on local leaders to think beyond the boundaries of agency, hear the community’s true needs and to develop equitable solutions for all of the Northern San Joaquin Valley to rise as region.”


Ashley Swearengin, CEO of the Central Valley Community Foundation delivered inspirational comments on the Fresno DRIVE initiative, considered a successful model of inclusive economic planning. Swearengin described the challenges of convening a diverse set of stakeholders around a common agenda and of setting a 10-year course of action for the Greater Fresno region.


Regional participants concluded that they were committed to launching an inclusive planning process with racial equity at the center to tackle long-standing inequalities and yield a long-term investment plan for the region.


“The beginning of the beginning,” added Moses Zapien, president and CEO of the Community Foundation of San Joaquin.


These two efforts, along with those in the Capitol Region, Bakersfield and Inland Empire, are all examples of the type of inclusive economic development championed by the California Economic Summit and embraced by AB 3205 from Assemblymember Rudy Salas.


Regions Rise Together efforts in 2020 also include Kern County, Imperial Valley, South East Los Angeles and the Redwood Coast.

California Puts Money Back Into the Pockets of Millions of Working Californians Amid COVID-19 Recession

SACRAMENTO — Governor Gavin Newsom announced that over $1 billion has gone back into the pockets of more than 3.6 million working Californians and their families through the California Earned Income Tax Credit (CalEITC) and Young Child Tax Credit (YCTC). He also announced that Californians will get the raise they deserve, by declining to use his authority to suspend the scheduled minimum wage increase in 2021, up to $14 per hour.


The COVID-19 recession has not only dealt a swift and broad-based blow to California’s economy – it has taken a disproportionate toll on low-income Californians, worsening income disparities that predate the pandemic. The expansion of the CalEITC and the creation of the YCTC have provided much-needed financial relief to millions of Californians, especially families with young children.


As of Monday, more than 3.6 million filers claimed the CalEITC and YCTC, providing over $1 billion back to hardworking Californians.


“The CalEITC is providing critical relief for millions of low-income Californians and their families, many of whom were struggling before the COVID-19 pandemic and have been hit especially hard during this time,” said Governor Newsom. “The CalEITC and the new Young Child Tax Credit are helping families make ends meet.”


CalEITC-eligible families with children under the age of six can also receive up to $1,000 more by claiming the YCTC, established through the budget signed by Governor Newsom last year. Of the over $1 billion distributed through CalEITC and YCTC, $370 million was credited to 409,000 taxpayers who claimed the Young Child Tax Credit. This means money back in the pockets of almost half a million California families to help relieve their economic strain and address childhood poverty, building stronger, brighter futures.


Last year, Governor Newsom significantly expanded CalEITC, investing $1 billion to help Californians become more financially secure. He expanded the program so Californians making up to $30,000 per year now qualify, and added a new Young Child Tax Credit for families with children under the age of six.


“The CalEITC is an important investment in California’s families and our future,” said First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom. “I am grateful to the countless community organizations and volunteers who partnered with our Administration to ensure this benefit reached those who need it most, particularly California’s kids.”


Governor Newsom also announced that although current economic conditions authorize him to suspend the scheduled increase in the minimum wage for 2021, he will move the increase forward as reflected in the 2020 state budget. The minimum wage will increase on January 1, to $13.00 per hour for businesses with 25 or fewer employees, and to $14.00 per hour for businesses with more than 25 employees.


“As we continue our efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19, we must also ensure that as our economy recovers, all Californians can benefit in its growth,” said Governor Newsom. “Not allowing this increase to go forward will only make life harder for those Californians who have already borne a disproportionate share of the economic hardship caused by this pandemic. Many of them are on the front lines of the pandemic, providing child care, working in our hospitals and nursing facilities and making sure there’s food on grocery store shelves.”

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