Pete Weber speaks to the Fresno Rotary Club Monday afternoon. Photo by Frank Lopez
Written by Frank Lopez
Pete Weber, a retired corporate executive and co-chair of California Forward, was the guest speaker for this week’s Fresno Rotary Club meeting which had a focus on “Fresno’s Economy: Challenge & Encouraging Prospects.”
Weber served as vice-president of chemical manufacturer FMC Corporation, CEO of Teknowlege, Inc., an intelligence software and services company and as CEO of Riverbend International, an agribusiness company.
In his Monday speech, Weber discussed some of the most pressing issues facing the Central Valley— including immigration, education, pollution and economic mobility.
He also went into detail in describing the racial disparity when it comes to education and economic opportunities. Weber said that only 60% of Hispanics in the Central Valley have a high school degree and only 9% have a Bachelor’s Degree.
Weber said that it is a problem that 70% of job growth is happening in the coastal areas while population growth is greater in the Central Valley, and that a combination of these conditions is creating economic inequality, as well as geographic inequality.
Even with the myriad of social and economic issues facing the Valley, Weber said he is more optimistic than ever for the future of Fresno with President Trump’s focus on boosting economic production in the country. Since his election, American manufacturing has increased by 13%, Weber said.
According to Weber, while California has lagged behind the rest of the nation by 7% in manufacturing, Fresno manufacturing production has increased by 20%, placing it at 50% above the national average rate.
He also noted Gov. Newsom as another source of optimism for the Central Valley, saying that he believes that the governor is working to help those in the Valley that are left behind.
“A lot of attention is being paid to what needs to be done to improve economic mobility for people in the San Joaquin Valley and to lift the entire region. So that’s a major area of focus,” Weber said.
Weber also mentioned the upcoming 2019 California Economic Summit, which runs Thursday and Friday at the DoubleTree by Hilton Fresno Convention Center.