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Irvine Foundation awards $400,000 to Joint Venture and the Bay Area Economic Forum

Grant Seeds Project promoting budget and governance reforms in Sacramento

San Jose, CA | April 1, 2005 – The James Irvine Foundation has awarded $400,000 to the Bay Area Economic Forum and Joint Venture: Silicon Valley Network, to lead an initiative promoting structural reforms to California’s budgeting process.

The two groups formed a partnership in 2004 to address California’s fiscal crisis, viewed by the boards of both organizations as a significant impediment to economic development in Silicon Valley and the greater Bay Area. The grant provides the project $400,000 over two years. Project tasks will include research and analysis, reform proposals, and advocacy.

“We have a structural problem in Sacramento,” said Russell Hancock, President and CEO of Joint Venture. “Spending isn’t linked to revenues, revenues are tied to the most volatile income sources, local governments have been given a screwy set of incentives, and the delivery mechanisms for government services are antiquated. We need structural solutions, and that’s what this initiative is all about.”

Bay Area Economic Forum President R. Sean Randolph added: “Until now I think many felt this was a Sacramento problem, and that it would get fixed in Sacramento. That’s not the case. This is everybody’s problem, and we all need to work together to fix it. The Bay Area—and indeed all of California’s sub-regions—are imperiled if our state isn’t built on a solid fiscal foundation. We need a state government capable of investing over the long-term, in crucial things like infrastructure and higher education. Without it, our ability to remain competitive with other global regions is very much in question.”

The grant is channeled through the California Perspectives program of The James Irvine Foundation, which seeks to inform public understanding, engage Californians, and improve decision-making on significant issues of long-term consequence to the state.

Bay Area Economic Forum Chairman Lenny Mendonca, a principal at McKinsey & Company, praised the Foundation’s decision. “The Foundation has done something truly significant: they have built a bridge between the state capitol and California’s regions. Progress on structural issues will come much more quickly when our representatives in Sacramento understand that regional leaders—in the Bay Area, the Southland, the Central Valley and elsewhere—see themselves as a part of the solution, rather than outside critics.”

Joint Venture board member Mark Forman elaborated: “This initiative is not simply promoting reform for reform’s sake. The goal is to promote reforms that take full advantage of the unique assets of California’s disparate regions.” Forman, founder and executive vice president of the Cassatt Corporation, and former CIO of the OMB in the Bush White House, continued: “Silicon Valley, for example, is sitting on a staggering amount of technical expertise that can help improve the effectiveness of government. Harnessing it will take leadership, and a talent for building partnerships, and that is what this Initiative seeks to accomplish.”

The Bay Area Economic Forum is a public-private partnership established in 1988 by the Bay Area Council and the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) to support the economic vitality and competitiveness of the region. Through focused analyses and partnerships extending throughout the region, it addresses infrastructure and other issues of critical concern to the economic development of the Bay Area and the region’s quality of life.

Joint Venture: Silicon Valley Network

Established in 1993, Joint Venture: Silicon Valley Network provides analysis and action on issues affecting the technology region's economy and quality of life. The organization brings together elected officials, business executives, labor leaders, and academia to spotlight issues and work toward innovative solutions. The organization’s overarching goal is to nurture the unique habitat that makes Silicon Valley a world capital for innovation and entrepreneurship —building and re-building a sustainable region that competes globally.

James Irvine Foundation

The James Irvine Foundation is a private, nonprofit grantmaking foundation dedicated to expanding opportunity for the people of California to participate in a vibrant, inclusive, and successful society. The Foundation was established in 1937 by James Irvine, the California pioneer whose 110,000 acre ranch in Southern California was among the largest privately owned land holdings in the state. With assets of more than $1.5 billion, the Foundation expects to make grants of $61 million in 2005 for the people of California.

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