The organization is largely virtual, with members picking up many of the operations functions. It has been a catalyst for transformational change, a convener of formerly disconnected organizations, and a steward leader willing to take responsibility for helping to solve critical and systemic problems. The future will be written based upon the hard work of today.
- Crime was escalating in the community and economic and social indicators were dropping. In response, a small group of business leaders got together to form an organization to address critical issues. Committees: vision, jobs, crime and education. Goals: civic infrastructure, the network of relationships that crosses all boundaries essential for transformational change. Outcomes: Central Valley Business Incubator This project, a partnership between Fresno State and the Business Council has created over 1,000 jobs and is planning to move downtown Fresno this year.
- A seminal report was issued by the Great Valley Center entitled “The Economic Future of the San Joaquin Valley.” The report offered the Valley two choices–stay on a low cost path and maintain the status quo or shift to an added value economy and increase the prosperity and quality of life for everyone.• Developed a plan which became the Collaborative Regional Initiative.
• The initiatives included: insuring a state of the art technology infrastructure, increasing the number of knowledge workers, improving the quality of life through land use and transportation decisions, achieving high quality performance in our human services and education systems and the creation of an innovative culture.
• Outcomes: Developed the Community Values and largely completed twenty-six projects
- Mayor Autry asked his economic advisors to evaluate the city budget. The report that ensued was called Meeting the Challenge. A critical finding was that if more jobs were not created, law enforcement would eventually consume the entire general fund.• Launched the Regional Jobs Initiative (RJI) with the goal of 30,000 net new jobs in five years.
• The plan uses a cluster based strategy to focus resources behind our most promising industries leading to a transformed approach to economic and community development and a diversified economy.
• Outcomes: Developed the Choosing Our Future Report , a plan to address critical issues inside Fresno Unified School District and the neighborhoods and systems that surround it. RJI was also used as a model to create the California Partnership for the San Joaquin Valley.
- Fresno Unified School District was close to being taken over by the State of California due to poor performance and severe financial distress. Leaders from the Fresno Business Council and other groups stepped up to intervene on behalf of our community and our children. They convinced the school board to secure new leadership. Dr. Walt Buster, serving as a volunteer superintendent, recruited a team to craft a turnaround strategy. The plan entitled Choosing Our Future: A Community-Wide Call to Action was published in 2005. With strong leadership, ongoing community support and a commitment to outcomes, Fresno Unified School District continues to improve today.
- The Fresno Stewardship Initiative is designed to solve the tough, complex challenges we face as a community. Guided by key institutional leaders, Mayor Ashley Swearengin, Superintendent Mike Hanson, Fresno State President John Welty and Economic Opportunities Commission CEO Brian Angus, the Fresno Stewardship Initiative is staffed and governed by the Fresno Business Council. It is both developing comprehensive strategies to alter the root causes of community dysfunction and securing capital and executive staff to implement them. For updates visit www.fresnostewardshipinitiative.org.