September 15, 2022
By Tess Kenny
SEASIDE — After two years of convening virtually, the Monterey Bay Economic Partnership’s annual State of the Region will take place in person next month — a timely setting as the event eyes topics of recovery and persistence alongside continued impacts of the pandemic.
The upcoming State of the Region, commemorating its eighth installation this year, is scheduled for Oct. 14 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and will take place at CSU Monterey Bay’s University Center in Seaside.
Designed as a yearly chance to gauge how the broader Monterey Bay area is fairing amid ongoing issues and challenges, the event for 2022 will focus on questions critical to the economic health and quality of life in the region, particularly through the lens of finding a new but still successful normal after COVID-19.
“This year, we’re going back to in-person, which is really exciting, (but) the difference this year is that we’ll be looking at as we continue to live with the pandemic, what does that mean … (to have) a thriving, healthy economic tri-county region,” said Tahra Goraya, president and CEO of the Monterey Bay Economic Partnership.
Started in 2015, the Monterey Bay Economic Partnership is a regional member-supported nonprofit organization made up of public, private and civic entities from Monterey, San Benito and Santa Cruz counties. The State of the Region is the organization’s signature event, Goraya explained, adding that its face-to-face return is not only meaningful, but also advantageous to finding practical solutions.
“There’s nothing like building relationships in person,” she said. “It’s possible to do it in the virtual world, absolutely. That’s how we’ve been functioning in the recent past, but I think this is a welcomed refresh on how to conduct business and hold critical conversations of importance to our region. It makes for richer conversations and more meaningful conversations.”
For October’s State of Region, that dialogue will cover anything from how equitable regional economic recovery and development can be achieved to developing a deeper understanding of the local digital divide. Other matters up for discussion will include affordable housing, effective policy making and the value of developing inclusive, cross-sector partnerships throughout the Monterey Bay region.
Among those slated to speak are UC Santa Cruz professor Chris Benner and University of Southern California faculty member Manuel Pastor, who will discuss their book, “Solidarity Economics.” Together, the pair will touch on their approach to addressing widening income inequality, rising economic insecurities and growing social and racial fragmentation while also promoting innovation and economic growth.
Rep. Jimmy Panetta, D-Carmel Valley, will likewise be joining the event’s pack of speakers to provide an update on politics and programs impacting the Monterey Bay region. More speakers and agenda items will be announced in the coming weeks, Goraya said, assuring that “there’s a lot more folks of interest to hear from and interact with.”
“This really is a networking opportunity,” she continued. “It’s certainly a regional convening to connect in person. That’s what we’re really excited about. … Having (a sound economic recovery) will take everybody. It will take the community, the private industry, the public industry, municipalities in government, policymakers, people in the board rooms, community-based organizations — everybody across the board and across multiple sectors needs to participate and needs to be a cross-sector stakeholder to see that outcome. So it’s actually exciting. It’s an exciting and hopeful time.”
Sponsorship opportunities and early-bird registration for the Monterey Bay Economic Partnership’s eighth annual State of the Region are now underway at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/8th-annual-state-of-the-region-tickets-399183106417. More information about the organization and its upcoming event can be found at https://mbep.biz/.