Why Not Good News?

Stop complaining, there is plenty to be happy about

Back Commentary Aug 1, 2012 By Winnie Comstock-Carlson

Right now our region is in the dumps. We bemoan our high unemployment, our devastated city budgets, our beleaguered school systems. We look enviously at our neighbors to the south and west, whose economies are improving faster than ours.

Like moody teenagers focused on blemishes and shortcomings, we too often overlook our natural strengths and increasing vitality. In fact, a closer look shows a great deal of good news to report.

• Advanced Call Center Technologies, based in Pennsylvania, opened a major facility in North Highlands that would hire 500 workers by year’s end and as many as 2,000 over the next several years.

• PRIDE Industries in Roseville unveiled a $3 million upgraded electronics plant, which it hopes will more than double this year’s estimated revenue of $12 million.

• Siemens Rail Systems launched a diversification push intended to position the company – and Sacramento, its headquarters — as a center not only for light rail but also for trolleys, locomotives and high-speed trains.

• Arcadia Biosciences, a Davis-based, agricultural technology company signed a major deal with a large Indian company to develop tomatoes that have longer shelf lives and can be fully ripened yet durable enough to survive lengthy shipping

• Clean World Partners and Atlas Disposal Industries recently broke ground on a $13 million anaerobic digester and renewable, natural gas fueling station in Sacramento. They have plans to make it the largest such system in the United States and, by the way, a scientist at UC Davis invented the technology:

It is no coincidence that these bright spots in the economy are among the seven industry clusters identified as prime growth areas for our region. We have the business-led effort known as Next Economy to thank for identifying not only these industries, which build on our region’s strengths, but also for pinpointing key hurdles to our economic growth.

Here, too, we see progress. UC Davis has always been critical to our region as a source of research and innovation; now it’s a booster of entrepreneurs as well. The College of Engineering recently “graduated” the first startup from its new high-tech business incubator. Plus, a new partnership between the city of Davis and the university has just opened Davis Roots, a program aimed at supporting and retaining local startups.

I could go on and on: Once you begin to look for good news, it’s amazing how much you can find.

But, sometimes it takes outsiders to help us see our successes, focused as we are on our shortcomings: The out-of-state recruiter who talks of the region’s talented and stable workforce, the East Coast site consultant who sees our soft economy as a magnet for companies seeking lowered office leasing rates, the venture capitalist who points out the strength of the region’s surviving companies.

I agree with all of them. We’ve learned the lessons of the recession and have come out stronger for it. We’re nurturing new companies and supporting mature ones as never before. We’re coming together as a region to build a shared agenda for our economic future.

All of that, to me, is very good news indeed.

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