Silicon Valley, Central Valley to bridge geographic, economic and political divides to promote ‘Valley to Valley’ connection and ‘Opportunity for All’

Mar 18, 2019 | Press Release

Palo Alto, California – Following Governor Newsom’s appearance at Stanford University today where he will talk about economic development, social mobility, and lifting up marginalized communities, nearly 150 business and civic leaders will gather this evening at the local restaurant Il Fornaio to learn more about the economic potential of California’s fifth largest city, Fresno, and the vast Central Valley region. Less than 200 miles southeast from Silicon Valley, Fresno leaders say there is ‘another Valley’ in California, and they believe the Silicon Valley could benefit from business and infrastructure investments that connect the two regions.

“Sometimes it feels like living in the last, undiscovered region of California,” said Ashley Swearengin, president of the Central Valley Community Foundation and former Fresno mayor.  “But, Fresno and the Central San Joaquin Valley are one of the fastest growing regions in the state.  More than half our population is under the age of 30.  Our communities are young and vibrant and have a lot to offer our state.  I think that’s why the Newsom Administration is focusing so much on what’s going on in Inland California, as well as the coast.”  

The hosts for the Monday evening reception include Meg Whitman, serial tech entrepreneur and Dilawar Syed, the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, the Bay Area Council, and the Parker Foundation.  Event organizers say its purpose is to build important professional relationships that could lead to business and civic partnerships that benefit both regions.

“I’ve been travelling to Fresno regularly over the last year and a half and getting to know the community,” said Syed, CEO of Lumiata and the main organizer of the Valley to Valley reception. “I’ve learned this is a region with a lot of talent and entrepreneurial drive. High-growth ventures in the Bay Area need access to that talent to continue to grow and add jobs and value to our state’s economy. Our “Valley to Valley” effort will bridge opportunity in Silicon Valley with a passionate and quality talent pool in Central Valley.”

Lenny Mendonca, Governor Newsom’s Chief Economic and Business Advisor, is the featured speaker at the event.  Mendonca, a Turlock native, has long championed California’s Central Valley as an up-and-coming region of the state.

“The Central Valley is going to surprise a lot of people in the coming years. The talent coming out of Fresno State, UC Merced, and other local post-secondary schools is already impressive, and it’s going to continue to grow,” said Mendonca. “As the Governor affirmed in his State of the State this year, ‘The Valley may be known around the world for agriculture, but there is another story ready to be told. A story of a region hungry for investment, a workforce eager for more training and good jobs, Californians who deserve a fair share of our state’s prosperity.’”

Also joining in the ‘Valley to Valley’ reception are Fresno Mayor Lee Brand, Fresno State President Joe Castro, UC Merced Chancellor Dorothy Leland, Steve Westly, Carl Guardino of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, and Jim Wunderman of the Bay Area Council.

Event organizers say this is the first of many exchanges between the two regions. 

What: Valley to Valley Reception
When: Today, Monday, March 18, 2019 from 6:00-8:00 PM
Where: Il Fornaio Restaurant, 520 Cowper St, Palo Alto, CA 94301

 NOTE: This event is open to credentialed media. Interested reporters should contact Sarah Moffat at

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