by Rob White
This was the 44th annual Sacramento Metro Chamber’s Cap-to-Cap Advocacy Trip, where regional business, elected and community leaders spend 5 days in Washington DC advocating for policies that are supportive to the Sacramento six county region.
Delegation participants from the Yolo County included: one City of Davis Council member and two staff; the Davis Chamber of Commerce Executive Director; four City of Woodland Council members and staff; four City of West Sacramento Council members and staff; representatives from UC Davis; and two Yolo County Supervisors and staff. For the City of Davis, the specific participants were Council member Rochelle Swanson (who paid her own airfare), the Deputy Innovation Officer Sarah Worley (who paid her own airfare and accommodations); and the Chief Innovation Officer (me).
Policies teams included the following 14 teams: Air Quality; Civic Amenities; Clean & Green Technology; Community Development; Economic Development; Flood Protection; Food & Agriculture; Health Care; Homeland Security; Innovation; Transportation; Water Resources; and Workforce & Education. There were approximately 50 different position papers written by the teams, addressing regional topics like research funding for our universities, funding for flood protection, and hazard mitigation for rail transportation (Oil by Rail). Policy papers can be reviewed on the Sacramento Metro Chamber’s website here.
This year, I was fortunate enough to have the privilege of leading the Innovation Team. The policy papers for the Innovation Team included 1) Basic and Applied Research Funding, 2) Access to Capital, 3) Entrepreneur Support, and 4) Access to Talent. The specific policy papers for Innovation can be found here.
The Innovation Team was 13 members strong, and this was the sophomore (second) year for the team. Participants included (in no specific order): Mike Rizzo, Five Star Bank; Marj Dickinson – UC Davis; John Selep – AgTech Innovation Fund; Jonna Ward – VIP (Visionary Integration Professionals); Tim Gaffaney – techDAVIS and innovation policy consultant; Rochelle Swanson – Council member, City of Davis; Jerry Vorpahl – Power Inn Alliance; Della Thompson – Mackay & Thompson (and landowner partner for the Nishi project); Daniel Kaufman – Third Plateau Strategies; Emilie Cameron – 3fold Communications; Cate Dyer – Stem Express; Erica Manuel – SMUD; and Rob White – City of Davis.
While in DC and since returning late last week, I have received many positive comments and lots of congratulations on the efforts of the Innovation Team. This is a direct reflection on the strong participation from across the region in many disciplines and sectors. The team also included four Young Professionals (primarily millennial leaders from around the region under the age of 40 – also known as MetroEdge). There were over 70 YPs in the delegation of just over 300.
Sarah Worley was on the Food & Agriculture team, along with Supervisor Don Saylor and Mary Kimball of the Center for Land-Based Learning (CLBL). CLBL is also the organization that will be operating the urban farm at the Cannery development as it opens later this year or early in 2015. Another participant with the Food & Ag team from the Davis area was Dr. Glenda Humistan, USDA Rural Development State Director.
The Metro Chamber reported that there were over 250 individual meetings with elected officials, federal agencies, and relevant organizations throughout the Washington DC metro area.
The Innovation Team had eight scheduled meetings, as follows:
* Office of Congressman Doug LaMalfa
* Office of Senator Chris Coons
* Congresswoman Doris Matsui
* Office of Senator Diane Feinstein
* White House Office of Science and Technology Protocol (OSTP) and WH Business Council
* Office of Congressman John Garamendi
* Congressman Ami Bera
* US Economic Development Administration
In addition to the regular Innovation Team meetings, the Innovation policy paper on Basic and Applied Research was selected to be highlighted as one of four Priority Issues by the Metro Chamber Leadership. Being included in the Priority Issues meant that our efforts as a team would be highlighted in several meetings that were only for the leadership. You can find the Priority Issues paper here:
The ability to be part of the Priority Issues meetings afforded Innovation a chance to highlight our efforts. It also gave me the opportunity to directly present to these key federal policy leaders on our innovation efforts and to use examples from Davis to illustrate my points. There were several meetings for the Priority Issues that focused on just a single topic, but those that included Innovation in the discussion were with: Senator Diane Feinstein; Senator Barbara Boxer; Congressman Jerry McNerney; Office of Congressman John Garamendi; and Congressman Kevin McCarthy.
As a bonus opportunity, a cancellation for one of the delegation’s Monday morning policy briefings provided an opportunity to present on an Innovation topic. Together with two other participants, I pulled together a panel discussion on Social Innovation and Indie Capitalism, which was attended by about 30 delegates. The downside was we were at the same time as the Water policy briefing, so most of the delegation attended that topic. The panel included Innovation Team member Daniel Kaufman and Jake Mossawir of City Year Sacramento. We discussed how social causes are being incorporated into the activities of business as a way to make work meaningful and fulfilling. The discussion was well received and is one that the Metro Chamber will be exploring more over the coming months through the MetroEdge group.
Lastly, the Davis-centric team met directly with Congressman John Garamendi, Jeff Finkle – CEO of the International Economic Development Council (IEDC), and Congressman Eric Swalwell (whose district includes the Lawrence Livermore and Sandia National Labs, research partners to UC Davis in several areas). These meetings covered areas specific to Davis and its efforts and have resulted in follow-on discussions on programs and activities that will be supportive to our work.
Outcomes from this year’s trip are already measurable. Specifically:
1. Yolo Freight Rail Relocation – the effort that started last year was supported as a 2014 regional policy activity in Goods Movement by the Transportation Team (http://www.metrochamber.org/uploads/2/5/5/7/25575329/transportation_02_-_goods_movement_and_mobility.pdf). We have received positive federal feedback on our efforts and will be submitting a joint grant application with Woodland, West Sacramento, Yolo County and the Sacramento Area Flood Control Agency at the end of May.
2. Oil by Rail – this topic was raised to a level of regional discussion and we had strong engagement from our elected officials, each assuring us that they were well in to the process of addressing this topic to ensure risk mitigation and increased safety.
3. Innovation Park (Center) – we received strong regional support for the concepts being put forth on the Davis Innovation Center, which received a crucial next step approval from City Council at the May 13th Council meeting. To highlight the importance to the region of Davis’ need to build a strong innovation economy, Congressman Garamendi provided the City with a support letter that was read by Council member Swanson at the May 13th meeting.
4. Peer Review of Innovation and Economic Vitality Work Program – staff took the opportunity leading up to the trip and while in Washington DC to vet the work program with many regional and national organizations. The document has been shared with federal agencies and was vetted and verbally endorsed in a meeting with the International Economic Development Council, the global authority in economic development-related activities. We continue to receive positive feedback for our holistic approach and aggressive timelines. It has been noted by many that it is impressive that we are doing these things with sustainability – environmental, fiscal, and social – at the forefront of our actions.
5. Ultra Light Rail Transport – City staff continue to work with Cybertran International and other jurisdictions to determine how this evolving technology may be beneficial to solving some of our most significant issues in carbon reduction due to transportation. The Federal Highway Administration did a request for information call for new technologies last month and Cybertran provided a submittal that was supported by Representatives Garamendi, McNerney, and Miller. You can see more about Cybertran here: http://cybertran.com/
6. Central Valley Ag Plus – the Sacramento region has joined with a Central Valley wide effort to secure a federal designation for the Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership (IMCP). This is a US EDA led designation that will be granted to 12 communities across the nation and provide preferential consideration by thirteen federal agencies for distribution of up to $1.3 billion in existing funding opportunities. Valley Vision, CLBL and the Sacramento Area Council of Governments (SACOG) are all involved in this effort, in addition to local and regional organizations. More info can be found at: http://valleyvision.org/sites/files/pdf/centralvalleyagplus_factsheet_10-mar-2014_update.pdf
7. California Network for Manufacturing Innovation – CNMI is the state-wide innovation hub (iHub) designated by the California Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz). The City of Davis was recently added as a Board member and I am lead for the communications and policy team. Opportunities locally that are afforded by our participation in CNMI include increased training for our new and emerging manufacturing companies and federal funding opportunities as part of the state-wide effort. Manufacturing has been a priority platform of Congressman Garamendi’s Make It In America efforts. More information can be found about CNMI here: http://www.cnmi.bz/cnmi-board-of-directors/
8. Grants and Programs – in our meetings with the White House and several federal agencies, a number of grants were highlighted that are directly applicable to activities in Davis. Though these sources of funds are very competitive, some of the grant opportunities are new and Davis has a strong opportunity as it leads in the innovation space.
In looking forward, I am confident that the regional energy created by the Innovation Team will continue. We are in the planning stages of convening a quarterly Regional Innovation Working Group Meetup under the umbrella of the Metro Chamber that will meet to discuss local and regional efforts, share best practices, and strengthen the innovation networks. Due to our work on this year’s Innovation Team, Davis will be a central and core member in this activity, bringing focus to our efforts.
The next few months will be exciting as the Davis community begins to work through some of the much discussed questions about economic development, innovation parks, and business startups and growth. I look forward to your comments and questions. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org if you choose to email me directly.