California Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kounalakis and California Chamber of Commerce Board Chair Kailesh Karavadra shared their perspectives on the state’s accomplishments and challenges at the 96th Annual Sacramento Host Breakfast on June 2, 2022.
The annual gathering, which was attended by close to 1,000 civic and business leaders from throughout the state, offers decision-makers in California finance, government, education, agriculture and industry the opportunity to exchange views, establish and renew friendships, and create statewide atmospheres of good will and understanding at a common table.
California Chamber of Commerce Board Chair Kailesh Karavadra
California Chamber of Commerce Board Chair Kailesh Karavadra highlighted facts to illustrate why people want to come to California. Among those were the California State University and Community College systems; the strength of California agriculture as the nation’s top supplier of many products; the volume of imports and exports going through the state’s ports; and Silicon Valley, with more than a third of the venture capital funding in the nation, “the heart of innovation in the world.” See text of full remarks.
A Tribute to Allan Zaremberg, California Chamber of Commerce President & CEO, 1998-2021
Business leaders and California governors comment on Allan Zaremberg’s contributions to the strength of the California economy during his 23 years as CalChamber president and CEO. Zaremberg retired at the end of 2021.
Lieutenant Governor of California Eleni Kounalakis
During remarks to the Sacramento Host Breakfast audience this morning, Lt. Governor Eleni Kounalakis began her speech by focusing on the strength of the state’s economy and talking about how it was able to recover from the unprecedented challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Looking back to the start of the pandemic, when California was the first state to issue a statewide stay-at-home order, Kounalakis said, “…it was almost an unthinkable decision at the time, no one knew, no one could really imagine what would happen when we unplugged the engine of the world’s fifth largest economy.”
Thanks to the persistence of California’s frontline workers and businesses, she said, California was able to manage its way through an extraordinary time.
“Let me just say, on behalf of myself and all of the people of the state of California, thank you,” she said.
She further thanked the business community for its part in helping grow the state’s economy. There are many positive facts about California’s economic strength, she told attendees. Just two years ago, the state had lost 2.8 million jobs and it was predicted the state would see a $54 billion budget deficit. Today, however, not only does the state have an unprecedented $98 billion budget surplus, but it also has regained more than 91% of the jobs lost during the pandemic.
By many accounts, California is leading the country, Kounalakis said. The state’s gross domestic product (GDP) grew by 7.8% in 2021 and the state has retained its distinction as the world’s 5th largest economy. California also has retained its place as No. 1 in two-way trade, manufacturing and agriculture.
Kounalakis said she is often asked about the state’s challenges, such as inflation, home prices, wildfires and taxation, among other concerns. And she responds by pointing out that, “We have many difficult challenges in California, but a growing economy gives us a powerful tool to help us address those challenges.”