Consisting of three adjoining California counties: San Joaquin, Stanislaus, and Merced, the North San Joaquin Valley (NSJV) region is a little larger than Connecticut. With over 1.5 million residents, its population is larger than that of 11 states. With an abundance of rich farmland, orchards, and vineyards, it is noted for a large variety of agricultural products. However, the majority of the NSJV population live in its growing cities, which include Stockton, Modesto, and Merced. The NSJV is also an intersection of the San Francisco Bay Area, the Sacramento Capital Region, and the South San Joaquin Valley Region and its fastest growing industry is Transportation and Warehousing as it emerges as the logistics hub of the Northern California Megaregion. The NSJV’s changing relationships with these regions distinguish it as a cohesive area and substantially define its future economic development challenges and opportunities.
In 2013-14, the Center for Business and Policy Research (formerly the Business Forecasting Center) received a grant from the U.S. Economic Development Agency to produce the North San Joaquin Valley (NSJV) Regional Assessment. That Assessment identified three key elements that define the NSJV as a distinct region:
- Intra‐regional linkages among the NSJV counties: In addition to similar economic systems and markets facilitating linkages, the NSJV counties are united through intra-regional commuting and migration.
- Growing inter‐regional linkages with the San Francisco Bay Area and the Greater Sacramento Area: While possessing distinct economic systems and socio-economic structures, the regions are strongly linked through commuting and migration patterns.
- Increasing Distinction from the South San Joaquin Valley (SSJV): Despite similar socio-economic structures, the NSJV and SSJV have very little employment interchange, limited commuting and migration connections, diﬀerent inter-regional linkages, and some distinct areas of comparative advantage.
While the NSJV is a distinct region, it is rarely recognized as such by the political and business communities. When economic development, policy, and planning processes are organized above the County level, the NSJV is typically grouped in an enormous geography of the entire San Joaquin Valley or Central Valley. As a result, the unique characteristics and opportunities of the NSJV can be overlooked.
The North San Joaquin Valley Index and an associated conference were created to help further the concept of the NSJV regional identity, and bring regional leaders together to understand economic, social and environmental trends and spark discussion of areas where regional collaboration could be fruitful.
The index is organized into three broad themes: Economy of the NSJV, NSJV People and Society, and the NSJV as a Place.