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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Resurgent California

Is California the “Golden State” no more? I think not.

Having been a magnet for masses (including myself, a transplant from the Midwest) seeking the land of opportunity and a better life, California has always personified what the American Dream has been about – innovation, tolerance, cultural diversity, opportunity. Be a pioneer, go to California with an idea and strike it rich.

In recent years California has driven itself to the edge, staring into an abyss of high taxes, high unemployment and a bureaucratic jumble unable to govern effectively or efficiently. Driven seemingly at the point where no return is possible. Not a day goes by without a headline trumpeting the demise of California.

But, as it has been many times before, California is resilient and a new age beckons. As Michael Grunwald of Time Magazine writes “It's expensive and crowded — because people still want to be there! — and it's recovering from an economic earthquake. But it continues to have a powerful claim on the future.”

With an economy that would surpass that of all but 7 countries in the world, California is always at the forefront of many of tomorrow’s industries becoming the mecca for high tech, biotech and now clean tech with many new companies leading the charge. California is not just into renewable energy, California is about renewable industries and renewable companies. This past year California attracted more venture capital than the rest of the U.S. combined, a testament to the innovation culture that is California.

"The beauty of California is the idea that you can reinvent yourself and do something totally creative," says Kogi'Taco’s founder Roy Choi, a former chef at the Beverly Hilton, in Time.

Californians are always looking ahead of the curve, anticipating and creating our future. “Does it play in Peoria” is less important here than the journey of innovation, the tug-of-war between success and failure that brings about positive change. So, while California may get the negative press (which it sometimes deserves) it at the same time is leading the country and the world in new directions.

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