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Helping to define what it means to be ‘Made in California’

Let me start with an admission: government officials — at all levels — don’t do a good job of engaging the public as we grapple with big, complex challenges.

Hearings only go so far. Videos and social posts get into only so much detail and nuance. And, most importantly, most of what we do is based on how we want to communicate to you, not on how you want to engage with us.

My team at the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development is launching a new podcast called Made in California to change that dynamic.

lenny
Lenny Mendonca, chief economic and business adviser to Gov. Gavin Newsom. CALmatters

The podcast will be hosted by Aneesh Raman, our head of strategy and external affairs, who knows a bit about storytelling. He’s a former CNN reporter and Obama speechwriter.

He and our team will speak not just to members of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s team, but also to civic leaders across the state who are working toward more inclusive, sustainable, resilient, and equitable growth in California.

Make no mistake: that is the defining challenge of our time.

I am the grandson of immigrants and grew up on a farm in Turlock. My life embodies the California dream.

Today, that dream is not well. California is the fifth-largest economy in the world. We are leaders in almost every area you can imagine, from technology to agriculture to arts. We are the place where new ideas most often turn into new industries, thanks to venture capital funding, innovative startups, world-class universities, state-of-the art labs and our diverse talent pool.

But we are also the state where too many Californians are working hard and still falling behind. We’re the richest and poorest state in the nation with 8 million of our fellow Californians living below the poverty line.

One in five kids lives in poverty in this state. We’ve got a cost crisis when it comes to housing, health care and education. Economic growth is mostly happening in our coastal communities and not enough inland.

Left unmanaged, the changes that technology and climate change are bringing to the nature of life and work are set to only exacerbate those challenges.

We’ve got some work to do to make sure our economy is working for everyone so that we have an economy that is built to last, for this generation and the next. And that’s what we’re going to be talking about on Made in California.

We hope you’ll listen.

We hope you’ll engage in the efforts. And we hope you’ll bring your stories to the podcast, just like Heather Evans, the artist who created the original theme song for our podcast — also called “Made in California.”

Heather moved to California from Ohio hoping to land on her California dream. And, like her song says, it was a challenge fighting for her dream — even believing that it was possible — but you can’t be afraid to leap.

Because, when you do leap, when you do fight for your California dream, you will learn that you were made to win because, through grit and courage, you were made in California.

We are excited to fight for that dream right alongside you. Join us in this adventure.

Lenny Mendonca is chief economic and business adviser to Gov. Gavin Newsom and director of the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development, GO-Biz, lenny.mendonca@gobiz.ca.gov. He wrote this commentary for CALmatters, a public interest journalism venture committed to explaining how California's Capitol works and why it matters.

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