New blog post: The Power of the Central Valley

California Competes Leadership Council Member Lenny Mendonca offers new insight into the importance of the Central Valley to the state and the nation.

The Power of the Central Valley

This past spring, I had the pleasure of delivering the commencement speech to the University of California, Merced’s largest graduating class. Looking out at the sea of graduates and their families, I was thrilled and humbled. Having grown up in the Valley, I know that pursuing higher education is often elusive for rural, minority, and low-income families.   

Lenny Mendonca

To illustrate the degree of economic inequality many residents of the Valley face, if California were split into separate states, the Bay Area would be the richest state in the country and Merced would be in the poorest. The two cities in the nation with the largest portion of the population living in extreme poverty are both in the Central Valley. That is not acceptable in the state with the fifth largest economy in the world.

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