I was in northern CA doing a talk at the Northern Rural Training and Economic Consortium (NORTEC), a 12 county workforce training group of some of the most rural counties in the state. Kathy Garcia from Tehama County told me, “We encompass 1/3 of the state geographically but only 5% of the population. We also are the source of most of the water that is used in the state.”
The geography in this region includes the northern end of the rich, fertile, flat Sacramento Valley; mountainous areas and numerous national forests including Mt. Shasta, at 14,162 ft., the highest point in the state, and the Redwood National Park; and a gorgeous Pacific coastline. However, the area is also fairly remote, requiring a three hour drive from the Sacramento airport to my talk in Mt. Shasta. I was told that you could drive through seven states on the east coast in less time than what you could drive the length of CA. A Map Quest search showed that it was shorter from Boston to Raleigh than from the OR border to San Diego.
The demographic/social profile of the area was more similar to the Midwest or Great Plains than it was to the much more populous areas of CA with the exception that most of the northern CA counties have grown by over 20% since 1990. Most of this growth has occurred as a result of people moving from the Bay Area to the region. It has caused a few conflicts as I’ll tell you tomorrow.
Northern CA is trying to brand themselves as “Upstate California: Above it All.” It is a great brand and one that they can leverage well. I have hopes that I will be back for a long tour of the land above it all very soon.