Growth Spurt

Lenny Mendonca expects to hear common concerns about housing at MBEP on Thursday: "I’ve not been to one of these [types of gatherings in California] that didn’t start with, 'Housing costs too much and it’s hard to get workers.'"

When the Monterey Bay Economic Partnership formed in 2015, housing wasn’t even on the radar. At the board’s first meeting, they picked two initiatives: workforce development and building the tech ecosystem.

But a few months later, at MBEP’s first State of the Region summit, leaders of businesses, nonprofits and educational institutions had a different priority area in mind. “Housing kept coming up,” MBEP President Kate Roberts says. “I started thinking, are we getting pulled into doing something on housing? Sure enough, we did a white paper on things we could do to encourage more housing to be built.”

It’s an issue that is likely to be front and center again when MBEP meets for its fifth annual summit on May 2, expected to draw 400-plus participants and is centered on the theme of “compelling ways to grow and ‘recession-proof’ your organization.”

Lenny Mendonca, director of the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz) and chief economic and business adviser to Gov. Gavin Newsom, has been to MBEP events in the past and will be back to moderate a panel of CEOs on Thursday. He says the next recession is a question of when, not if: “We are in the longest post-war expansion and longest continuous growth of employment since World War II. That’s fantastic, but the economy’s still subject to business cycles. What we have to do is have a budget that is resilient no matter what happens.”

Mendonca lives in Half Moon Bay where he co-owns Half Moon Bay Brewing Company and theHalf Moon Bay Review. He says business owners, like government, should brace for ups and downs: “Run your business like you’re going to own it forever. Then you don’t get overly stressed by yesterday’s sales numbers or this quarter’s stock market.”

His goal in attending the MBEP summit, he says, is to see what the region needs from Sacramento to achieve economic and housing goals. “These are hard problems that don’t yield to overnight solutions,” he says. “But that’s not to say we can’t make a dent.”

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