With Sacramento awash in tax revenue, Gov. Jerry Brown told a full house of 600 Bay Area business leaders at the 2015 Outlook Conference on Thursday (May 21) that it’s “Katie bar the door” when it comes to resisting new spending. Brown opened the conference with wide ranging remarks on California’s growing economy and the inevitability of a future downturn, his plans to hold the line on new spending, the historic drought, climate change, Bay Bridge bolts and investing in critical infrastructure, among other topics. Following remarks by Signature Development Group President Michael Ghielmetti and San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, the governor also took a moment to break some news by announcing his endorsement of Lee for reelection in November. See the announcement>>

Read the San Francisco Chronicle story>>

Bay Area Council Executive Committee member and Kaiser Permanente Chairman and CEO Bernard Tyson led a lively discussion with Mayor Lee, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf and San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo on regional solutions to the Bay Area’s housing supply and affordability crisis, public safety and traffic congestion.

With an introduction by California Secretary of State Alex Padilla (the LA Dodgers fan bravely announced the SF Giants’ 4-0 win over his team to complete a three-game sweep), former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm wowed the audience with a very humorous and informative talk on clean energy before sitting down with Executive Committee member and PG&E Chairman, President and CEO Tony Earley for a conversation about what he called the “Grid of Everything.” Earley said the explosion of rooftop solar, new energy efficiency and storage technologies and aggressive carbon reduction targets means California must move quickly to adapt its policy and regulatory frameworks to manage the changes. He pointed to a recent Bay Area Council Economic Institute report – 21st Century Infrastructure: Keeping California Connected, Powered and Competitive – that lays out a vision for promoting investment in modern energy networks.

Bay Area Council President and CEO Jim Wunderman opened the conference, whose theme was New Frontiers, with a stirring speech about the Bay Area’s new frontiers. See Jim Wunderman’s Outlook Conference speech>>

There was tremendous interest in a new report released by JPMorgan Chase — Strengthening the Bay Area — at the Outlook Conference examining opportunities in the Bay Area for creating more middle skills jobs – those that require a high school degree and technical training. Joni Topper, JPMorgan Chase Senior Market Executive, led a talk with Jay Banfield, Executive Director of Year Up Bay Area, Cecily Joseph, Vice President of Corporate Responsibility and Chief Diversity Officer for Symantec Corporation, and Van Ton-Quinlivan, Vice Chancellor of Workforce and Economic Development for the California Community Colleges, on sectors where middle skills jobs are growing and strategies that companies can employ to connect with the workers they need.

Nadine Burke Harris, Founder and CEO of Center for Youth Wellness, gave a riveting talk about how traumatic childhood experiences related to poverty, family dysfunction and other causes can lead to future costly health problems and derail opportunities to participate fully in the workforce and economy.

Chevron Chief Diversity Officer Shariq Yosufzai shared his company’s Catalyst Award-winning initiative – The Chevron Way – to promote engineering and leadership opportunities for women and American Express President Ed Gilligan talked with Beverly Anderson, Head of Consumer Financial Services at Wells Fargo Bank, about how new technologies are transforming the payments industry.

The Bay Area Council extends its sincerest thanks to PG&E for serving as the presenting Visionary Sponsor of the Outlook Conference, and to the many other companies whose support of the event makes possible the council’s continuing policy and advocacy work. We’re also deeply grateful to The Ritz-Carlton and its amazing staff for hosting the conference in its recently renovated and gorgeous Grand Ballroom.

See photos from the event>>

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