The Fresno D.R.I.V.E. Initiative (Developing the Region’s Inclusive and Vibrant Economy) is a 10-year Community Investment Plan drafted with input from a 300-person steering committee representing over 150 organizations in the Greater Fresno Region. The composition and scope of the DRIVE coalition is unprecedented, representing a diverse group of civic, community, and business leaders who collectively sought to answer the question,
"What would it take to fundamentally transform the Greater Fresno Region
by 2030 and create opportunities for all residents
to achieve real economic mobility by fostering an economy
that is inclusive, vibrant and sustainable?"
During the summer of 2019, the DRIVE coalition undertook a four-month, intensive process to:
Assess baseline data on Fresno’s economy, human capital, and neighborhood quality;
Align on a 10-year aspirational vision for inclusive economic development;
Identify the key actions and investments needed to achieve the 10-year vision; and
Determine the community impact of those investments.
- Poverty to Prosperity -
The comprehensive plan identified a portfolio of investable initiatives aimed at increasing economic mobility, addressing racial disparities, and supporting a sustainable environment. The DRIVE Initiative launched in July 2019, and the draft plan was unveiled at the California Economic Summit hosted in Fresno on November 7-8, 2019.
The DRIVE Initiative assessed Fresno’s current standings in three areas vital to community health: economic development, human capital, and neighborhood quality. This evaluation of our region’s challenges helped build a collective understanding of our city’s unique position and guided the Steering Committee towards a shared, 10-year vision to transform Fresno.
- A Unified Effort -
The DRIVE Initiative is sponsored by the Central Valley Community Foundation (CVCF) with support from the James Irvine Foundation. A steering committee involving 300 community leaders representing over 150 organizations organized to guide the effort. The DRIVE Initiative is also being supported by a consulting and research team that includes McKinsey & Company, Fresno State’s Central Valley Health Policy Institute, Brookings Institution, Jobs for the Future, and the Urban Institute.
- Fresno’s Unique Challenges -
Fresno is currently one of the fastest-growing regions in the United States with 20 percent population growth since 2000 and has historically been the largest city in California’s Central Valley. As such, it commands the focus of an economically expanding region.
The Urban Institute’s 2018 research on economic mobility in California's largest cities revealed that Fresno ranks 59th out of 59 for economic and racial disparity. In addition, our regional economy does not perform strongly enough to create the volume and opportunities needed to break the cycle of chronic economic distress. While impressive progress has been made to combat these challenges in recent years, a comprehensive and inclusive economic development business plan is required to guide public and private investments for the next decade.
- The Time is Now -
In May 2019, Governor Newsom’s office announced a new ‘Regions Rise Together” initiative designed to develop a comprehensive economic plan that will benefit all parts of California, specifically the Inland regions.
“We believe in a California for all. The state’s extraordinary prosperity and opportunity must be available to everyone. For workers, geography should not limit your opportunity to secure a living wage job with predictable hours and pathways to acquire the necessary skills to advance in a well-paid career in a growing industry.”
- Lenny Mendonca, Chief Economic and Business Adviser and Director of the California Office of Business and Economic Development
- Kate Gordon, Director of the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research
Learn more at www.caeconomy.org
The DRIVE Initiative capitalized on this statewide momentum at a pivotal time with a diverse group of civic, community, and business leaders who represent both the brightest ideas of our region and the heart of who we are.
The DRIVE Initiative is more than a plan –
it is a clear and achievable roadmap to inclusive prosperity.