In November 2012, the Milken Institute California Center launched its first annual California Summit, bringing together more than 400 prominent thinkers and executives to tackle the most serious obstacles facing the state.
Among them, the widening wealth disparity that is dividing the state into coastal haves and inland have-nots; the rigorous environmental regulations and generous public pensions that create the perception of an unfriendly environment for business; and the crisis in education that raises the prospect that future generations will be less prepared to enter the workforce than previous ones.
These challenges and their proposed solutions were aired during the Summit, with the discussion focused on five themes: state finances, business climate, workforce development, state and local leadership, and innovation. Mindful of California's enduring strengths, from its culture of entrepreneurship to the agriculture industry's ability to feed the world, a diverse group of participants put forth an imaginative slate of recommendations aimed at ensuring that the Golden State remains a destination for ideas, talent, and investment well into the future.
How to finance the renovation of California's aging infrastructure? Nurture biotechnology and other promising, 21st century industries? Encourage STEM education and streamline state spending? The takeaways from those and other exchanges at the event are gathered in "An Agenda for Progress: After the California Summit."