Issue Brief: Major State Programs That Can Support Regional Economic Development

Report #269, August 2022


California has allocated billions of dollars in one-time and continuing funding that could help advance regional development strategies, the Little Hoover Commission finds in its new Issue Brief.

In the Brief, a resource for state policymakers that outlines current research without making policy recommendations, the Commission provides a preliminary compilation of major state programs and investments that can support inclusive regional development initiatives, with a focus on investments and programs that can advance inclusive development in the state’s inland and rural regions.

The Commission found that in 2021-22 and 2022-23, the state allocated $8.2 billion in one-time funding and $1.2 billion in annual continuing funding toward such programs.

These programs align with California’s Community Economic Resilience Fund (CERF), a $600 million statewide initiative to encourage inclusive regional economic planning and sustainable development.

“The Commission identified billions of dollars that the state has allocated for programs that could help advance CERF’s goals surrounding the creation of quality jobs and sustainable industries,” noted Chair Pedro Nava. “We also focused on highlighting investments that have the potential to support inclusive growth in inland and rural regions, which are generally less prosperous than coastal, metropolitan regions.”

In its Brief, the Commission found 61 programs and investments that span 21 state departments and agencies and provides:

  • $4 billion in one-time funding and $150 million in annual continuing funding to support 22 clean energy and climate-related programs.
  • $2.8 billion in one-time funding and $891 million in annual continuing funding for 23 training, workforce development, and career pathways programs.
  • $974 million in one-time funding and $25 million in annual continuing funding to support 10 investments in the construction and expansion of higher education centers, facilities, and campuses.
  • $467.5 million in one-time funding and $180 million in annual continuing funding for six business development and incentive programs.

“We hope this Issue Brief serves as a resource for state and regional policymakers, who may benefit from awareness of the range of new and existing programs and funding streams that have the potential to expand CERF’s impact and further support California’s goals surrounding equitable economic development,” said Vice Chair Sean Varner.

This Issue Brief was produced as part of the Commission’s study focused on California’s efforts to close regional disparities and promote greater prosperity across the state. The Commission anticipates releasing a report on this topic later this year.

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(Report #270, November 2022)