Mayor Johnson loves to put on a show, and that’s what he did Tuesday, in front of a packed house of business, government and community leaders at the California History Museum. He brought out Governor Schwarzenegger and First Lady Maria Shriver for the event and didn’t shy away from setting out big, sweeping goals:
Johnson: “Let’s transform Sacramento into the emerald valley. Let’s be the greenest region in the country. Let’s be a hub when it comes to green and clean technology."
The mayor thinks Sacramento already has a lot of advantages. It’s near the halls of power at the state capitol; it’s got a lot of sun, good for solar companies; and the region’s utilities and universities are top-notch at going green. Afterwards, speaking to reporters, Johnson said it’s time for the public and private sectors to get organized and work together instead of focusing on their separate efforts.
Johnson: “Part of it is just getting alignment, coordinating our efforts, and then setting very clear targets and goals we want to accomplish over the next three, five and 10 years.”
The mayor says his initiative will focus on conserving and producing cleaner energy; encouraging smart-growth and green buildings; and developing policies and incentives to support existing green-tech companies and recruit new ones. Matt Mahood with the Sacramento Metro Chamber of Commerce is a fan:
Mahood: “There are a lot of cities and regions across this country who are trying to be the cleanest and the greenest. And I think we’re positioning ourselves – we’ve already positioned ourselves – to be a leader. Now, we want to make sure we get out in the forefront and get ahead of everybody else.”
But that might be easier said than done, says Sanjay Varshney, the dean of the business school at Sacramento State. He says Sacramento trails other parts of California, like San Diego and Silicon Valley, in the surge to go green.
Varshney: “If you look at presence of private sector venture capital in San Jose, we have a lot of catching up to do and we have to do a lot more work to attract that kind of capital to come to Sacramento to begin with.”
Varshney says he’s cautiously optimistic that the mayor’s on the right track. But, he says, Sacramento faces some steep competition.