Help­ing to de­fine what it means to be ‘Made in Cal­i­for­nia’

The Fresno Bee (Sunday) - - Opinion - BY LENNY MEN­DONCA Spe­cial to CAL­mat­ters

Let me start with an ad­mis­sion: Gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials — at all lev­els — don't do a good job of en­gag­ing the pub­lic as we grap­ple with big, com­plex chal­lenges.

Hear­ings only go so far. Videos and so­cial posts get into only so much de­tail and nu­ance. And, most im­por­tantly, most of what we do is based on how we want to com­mu­ni­cate to you, not on how you want to en­gage with us.

My team at the Gover­nor's Of­fice of Busi­ness and Eco­nomic Devel­op­ment is launch­ing a new pod­cast called Made in Cal­i­for­nia to change that dy­namic.

The pod­cast will be hosted by Aneesh Ra­man, our head of strat­egy and ex­ter­nal af­fairs, who knows a bit about sto­ry­telling. He's a for­mer CNN re­porter and Obama speech­writer.

He and our team will speak not just to mem­bers of Gov. Gavin New­som's team, but also to civic lead­ers across the state who are work­ing to­ward more in­clu­sive, sus­tain­able, re­silient, and eq­ui­table growth in Cal­i­for­nia.

Make no mis­take: that is the defin­ing chal­lenge of our time.

I am the grand­son of im­mi­grants and grew up on a farm in Tur­lock. My life em­bod­ies the Cal­i­for­nia dream.

To­day, that dream is not well. Cal­i­for­nia is the fifth-largest econ­omy in the world. We are lead­ers in al­most every area you can imag­ine, from tech­nol­ogy to agricultur­e to arts. We are the place where new ideas most of­ten turn into new in­dus­tries, thanks to ven­ture cap­i­tal fund­ing, in­no­va­tive star­tups, world­class uni­ver­si­ties, state-of-the art labs and our di­verse tal­ent pool.

But we are also the state where too many Cal­i­for­ni­ans are work­ing hard and still fall­ing be­hind. We're the rich­est and poor­est state in the na­tion with 8 mil­lion of our fel­low Cal­i­for­ni­ans liv­ing below the poverty line.

One in five kids lives in poverty in this state. We've got a cost cri­sis when it comes to hous­ing, health care and ed­u­ca­tion. Eco­nomic growth is mostly hap­pen­ing in our coastal com­mu­ni­ties and not enough in­land.

Left un­man­aged, the changes that tech­nol­ogy and cli­mate change are bring­ing to the na­ture of life and work are set to only ex­ac­er­bate those chal­lenges.

We've got some work to do to make sure our econ­omy is work­ing for ev­ery­one so that we have an econ­omy that is built to last, for this gen­er­a­tion and the next. And that's what we're go­ing to be talk­ing about on Made in Cal­i­for­nia.

We hope you'll lis­ten.

We hope you'll en­gage in the ef­forts. And we hope you'll bring your sto­ries to the pod­cast, just like Heather Evans, the artist who cre­ated the orig­i­nal theme song for our pod­cast — also called “Made in Cal­i­for­nia.” Heather moved to Cal­i­for­nia from Ohio hop­ing to land on her Cal­i­for­nia dream. And, like her song says, it was a chal­lenge fight­ing for her dream — even be­liev­ing that it was pos­si­ble — but you can't be afraid to leap.

Be­cause, when you do leap, when you do fight for your Cal­i­for­nia dream, you will learn that you were made to win be­cause, through grit and courage, you were made in Cal­i­for­nia.

We are ex­cited to fight for that dream right along­side you. Join us in this ad­ven­ture.

Lenny Men­donca is chief eco­nomic and busi­ness ad­viser to Gov. Gavin New­som and di­rec­tor of the Gover­nor’s Of­fice of Busi­ness and Eco­nomic Devel­op­ment, GO-Biz, lenny.men­[email protected]­biz.ca.gov. He wrote this for CAL­mat­ters, a pub­lic in­ter­est jour­nal­ism ven­ture com­mit­ted to ex­plain­ing how Cal­i­for­nia's Capi­tol works and why it mat­ters.

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