Sacramento has launched a new phase of “Sacramento 3.0” — an economic development plan that Mayor Kevin Johnson has made the hallmark of his final months in office.
The city announced plans on Tuesday to begin personally interviewing executives of “primary employers” — companies that sell mostly outside the region. Feedback from the interviews will be wrapped up into a biannual report and presented to the Sacramento City Council.
In recent weeks, the mayor has convened a series of meetings with business leaders to ask what is working in local government, and what needs improvement. The mayor has also put together a working group of private executives and other stakeholders to craft pro-business policies that would go to the Sacramento City Council in the coming weeks.
The economic development plan has three pillars: improving business in low income or so-called “priority neighborhoods,” promoting “innovation zones” or city areas with amenities or infrastructure that allows technology startups to thrive, and improving overall business climate across the region.
The mayor’s initiative seeks to answer the question of “how do we make Sacramento a hub of innovation, entrepreneurship and opportunity?” said Crystal Strait, Johnson’s chief of staff. “The key component is how we do that citywide.”
In developing the third leg of the stool — improving business retention and expansion rates — the city’s economic development department is starting a visitation program will target 200 employers each year to assess needs around workforce, regulations and other issues related to city government.
“We’ll find out if employers are generally happy in the city,” said Larry Burkhardt, the city’s economic development director.
The visitation plan is a more expansive version of the longstanding business walks program by the Sacramento Metro Chamber. That program asks companies about the business climate in a certain geographic zone. The answers help guide the organization’s advocacy platform, said CEO Peter Tateishi.
That’s not the only business polling service currently underway in Sacramento. The Northern California World Trade Center regularly surveys businesses in order to give them the tools to enter overseas markets.
And to understand local workforce needs, the nonprofit Valley Vision has started releasing a series of reports that provide a snapshot of technical skills needed by regional employers in different industries.