Those who’ve lived in Southern California, and perhaps many who’ve visited - may remember when the Santa Ana Winds come. There’s cold in the air – but the warmth in the wind evokes emotions of what is possible – like no other place I’ve known. The state is full of people with big hopes and big dreams. It’s why most come to California. And why many will continue to come. From the vast agricultural lands of the Central Valley — to the Silicon Valley and Hollywood - to San Diego’s biotech cluster. From real estate pioneers to movie moguls – the state will never be anything but a place for dreamers. It may at times take a break – but the next scene will always be waiting.
Whatever your politics – the state’s Governor, Jerry Brown – recently announced the state budget deficit had been eliminated. A man who came to office at a time perhaps when the state needed someone like him the most. This is his second time around as Governor, and his father Pat served before he did. His sister Kathleen also served the state as Treasurer before running for Governor herself. He doesn’t please everyone, but no political figure in California ever can. But his family has a long-history of service to California. And there’s something about his efforts that seems clearly a labor of love.
He’s also done something else which caught my attention – and which gives me the feeling that the state may now be embarking upon what may be a new dawn. An opportunity always acknowledged as a natural one - but perhaps only just now receiving the serious attention it deserves.
California + Asia
Last week, John Boudreau of the San Jose Mercury News provided a glimpse of what might be the the real beginning of California realizing the dream of becoming the great American economic partner of Asia. He wrote about officials from the city of San Jose seeking to establish and build relationships in Tokyo’s “vibrant metropolis” with an aim of attracting a portion of the record-breaking foreign investment emanating from Japan. “And in April” Boudreau reported, ”Gov. Jerry Brown plans to lead a delegation to China to open a state trade and investment office in Shanghai.”
“The Asia Society released a report last fall” Boudrea wrote, “outlining how California could attract “$60 billion in investment from China by 2020, but only if government and business officials work together to attract overseas capital.”
A unique confluence of opportunity
Were it a country, California would be the 8th largest national economy in the world. Despite what many regard as a state over-regulated and overtaxed - California remains the hub of unparalleled opportunity. And now China and Japan are investing overseas at record levels – and the United States is the number one focus of that investment. Malaysia, Singapore, Korea, Indonesia and others across Asia are all looking to the US for opportunity.
California’s professional services providers have the ability to create the complex transactions required to facilitate cross-border trade from Asia. From lawyers and investment bankers – to accountants and private equity professionals. All can now become private-sector gateways to California for Asia’s investors – by building bridges in ways they could never have imagined possible before the digital age.
Public and private sector: both essential
“‘As Fred Greguras, a Palo Alto-based partner with law firm K&L Gates’ told John Boudreau: ‘We need to reach out if we want to be relevant and generate jobs.’” Mr. Greguras could not be more correct. The public sector alone, however, cannot generate all new investment into California.
Opportunities to reach out are there. This month and next, for example, The International Bar Association is hosting the Inaugural Asia-based International Financial Law Conference: West meets East, in Shanghai. And The US-China Legal Summit takes place in Hong Kong shortly thereafter. A focus of both events is facilitating cross-border Asia-US investment.
Past is prologue
Those who’ve thrived in California include Walt Disney, Steven Spielberg, Steve Jobs, Patrick Soon-Shiong, Magic Johnson, Charles Schwab, Arturo Moreno, Arianna Huffington, Eli Broad and Marissa Mayer. These are a just a few among the most well known. There are countless others not so well known.
California’s economy can be re-born again. Many can follow in the footsteps of California’s dreamers before them. For a moment – just imagine…