California’s Secret Sauce—What’s the Recipe?
In addition to being chairman of the California Manufacturing and Technology Association Executive Committee, I have the honor of serving on the National Association of Manufacturers board of directors. During the spring board meetings of both organizations, there was a general sense of optimism for the state of manufacturing in our country and California. Nationally, the manufacturing base has grown by 7.5 percent. Economic activity in the manufacturing sector expanded in February for the 26th consecutive month, and the overall economy grew for the 69th consecutive month, according to the nation’s supply executives in the latest Manufacturing ISM® Report On Business.

Twelve of the 18 manufacturing industries reported growth in February in the following order: paper products; printing and related support activities; furniture and related products; primary metals; nonmetallic mineral products; food, beverage and tobacco products; miscellaneous manufacturing; fabricated metal products; machinery; transportation equipment; electrical equipment; appliances and components; and chemical products. The three industries reporting contraction in February are: textile mills; apparel, leather and allied products; and computer and electronic products.

All the data is good, but why am I optimistic about being a manufacturer, especially one located in California? I travel a lot, so people in foreign countries tend to ask where I’m from. If I tell them the United States, I tend to get a nod—maybe a smile. Usually they ask further, “Where in the US?” When I respond “California,” their face lights up and they’re excited to speak with me. In some ways, the response I get makes me feel a bit like someone famous. There is a worldwide awe about my state.

I say “my state” because I am a rarity: a California native. My father’s grandmother traveled in a wagon to California from Missouri in 1853, got here in 1854 and settled in Healdsburg. I love my state. I am passionate about all that is good about my state. It is truly the land of golden opportunities. But why? What elements make up our state’s “secret sauce?”

1. Resources
California is large and holds vast natural resources. A jaw-dropping coast line, forests, water, sun, wind, fertile ground, agriculture, minerals, oil and on and on.

2. Environment
We have great weather. Need I say more? A temperate climate spurs productivity and prosperity.

3. Education
We are blessed to be a state with so many world-renowned public and private colleges and universities. We also have a great supportive network of community colleges. There is an incredible depth of knowledge we are cultivating and inspiring within our state.

4. Innovation
Our state has been leading the country and the world with innovative ideas since the beginning. Silicon Valley and all it has generated is just the latest manifestation of that trend.

5. Technology
We are a state of early adopters. A fertile ground for fostering the acceptance and exploitation of technological advances. This is especially true in the manufacturing sector. I can’t wait to see how the internet of things and big data will change the face of manufacturing. I know California will be leading the way.

6. Glamour
Hollywood. We are home to creating dreams, be it on the big screen or TV. We have Disneyland, the original home of making dreams come true for children and adults.

7. Money
California as a state has the eighth largest GDP in the world. We are effectively a country unto ourselves. Money attracts money and we have a lot of it here. We are also home to some of the biggest VC and angel funds out there.

8. Diversity
Our state is a melting pot of people. The rich diversity of people who come to California to make their dreams come true continues to fuel our state toward prosperity.

9. Spirit
It is a state of pioneers. As with my family, many who have come to this state took great risk to do so. They came on the belief of a better life, of the belief this state was a place they could make they dreams come true.

So maybe that is what I am seeing in the faces of those I meet. Is that we are a place where dreams can and do come true. What do you think? Did I identify all the ingredients? What did I miss? I’d love to hear from you.