Last week saw the culmination of months of hard work with the official launch of the Monterey Bay Economic Partnership (MBEP), at their first ever regional economic summit for the tri-county Monterey Bay area.
Entitled “Invent Your Future”, the event brought together hundreds of regional elected officials, business owners and community leaders to highlight the key industries and economic strengths of our diverse region, all while outlining an agenda for facilitating more collaboration. The event also proved to be a vital introduction and much needed opportunity for these same leaders, many of who have never met one another, to share stories and ideas about how to improve the region’s economic vitality and best develop a unique regional brand.
The event started with a networking breakfast, which cordially broke through the normal, insular circles of each County’s usual suspects, and was followed by a stellar, and quite lively economic forecast from Beacon Economics’ Founder, Chris Thornberg. Thornberg, who had mostly good news, provided a thorough overview of national and state economic trends, while briefly offering a comparative overview of how our region was faring versus other areas of the state. The highlights: our national economy is surging, especially in light of what is likely to be a decade of cheaper gas prices; the housing market has picked up substantially; California economic diversity, powered by innovative technology, has seen the state rebound to pre 2008 levels; and while the Monterey Bay region has lagged beyond the rest of the state in terms of recovery, 2015 is likely to be a good year for business and the region as a whole.
What followed were a series of panels highlighting some of the region’s industry niches and key economic sectors, which included participation from Business Council members South Swell Ventures, Cruzio Internet and the Seaside Company, as well as Santa Cruz County Supervisor Zach Friend. The panels included such topics as the Emerging Tech Eco-System, Getting a Gigabit Everywhere, the [locally sourced] Blue Economy, Building on our Strength in Agriculture, and Regional Tourism, all of which featured local businesses talking about our region’s strengths and areas for improvement.
The event concluded with a rousing challenge issued by MBEP’s President, Jennifer Dossett, who asked “why are you here?” The implied answer: to leverage our regional assets as business and community leaders and take a pragmatic and data-driven approach to our collective economic vitality. The Santa Cruz County Business Council joined MBEP to link our members with a diverse set of businesses and government officials around the tri-county area.