As Sacramento gears up to expend precious capital on a new sports and entertainment complex that will bring jobs, outside investment and prestige to the region, I can’t help but ask about other key ingredients needed to guarantee Sacramento a successful future.
A look at the thriving cities of the Pacific Northwest reveals the key roles being played by hometown Fortune 500 and 1000 corporations. Seattle has Boeing, Microsoft and Amazon; Portland has Nike; and Boise has Micron Technologies, Boise Cascade and Albertsons. In addition to being generators of high-paying jobs, these companies attract the best and brightest talent and are major contributors and supporters of the arts and charities in those communities. These companies also tend to attract ancillary and subsidiary companies that compliment and expand the corporate footprint, creating additional employment.
There has been extensive press coverage pointing to the Capital Region’s falling unemployment rate, which now stands at 8.3 percent, an improving rate but still above the national average. Further attention has been given to the Sacramento Area Commerce & Trade Organization, which will soon employ lead generators to attract more businesses to the region. These are certainly positive developments. However, questions remain as to the number of high-quality jobs being generated.
While Sacramento has hosted divisions of major companies such as HP and Apple, it has never been the home of a major corporate headquarters. At one time, Wells Fargo considered making Sacramento its epicenter, but that opportunity was lost. Perhaps it’s time to consider a major push to attract Fortune 500 or Fortune 1000 companies.
The city or county, with the assistance of consultants, could offer a prime parcel at a $1-per-year lease along with a special 10-year tax abatement program, reduced utility rates and other financial incentives. Perhaps the governor and legislature could be induced to extend additional tax breaks for a major company locating to our region from outside the state.
We have recently witnessed intense state and local competitive bidding to lure the likes of Boeing as well as car manufacturers and foreign companies. It is well known that the state of Texas, along with its pro-business governor, has been actively recruiting California companies. Why not start thinking big and, with the cooperation of city, county and state agencies, put together an attractive incentive package and reach out worldwide through key agents to attract a major headquarters to Sacramento?
There is a tendency for our top business and law school students to leave our region upon graduation to seek opportunities for career advancement and well-paid jobs elsewhere. Sacramento needs to retain these talented individuals, and one way to help attain this goal is through a major corporate headquarters’ local presence.
The new year calls for new, progressive thinking. Talk with your representatives, with the leaders of SACTO and the local chambers of commerce to plant the seeds for a major campaign to move Sacramento into a thriving future.
When it comes to overall economic health and vitality, the Central Valley is behind. Way behind. And that should concern us all because there are fundamental factors holding us back.
Does a community’s brand matter?
Consider this. A local medical practice recently tried to recruit a dermatologist. After an extensive search, they offered the job to a young, out-of-state doctor — who couldn’t convince his wife to move to Sacramento. “I’m not moving there,” she told him. “It’s boring.” The search started over.