Recognizing the distinct and growing integration of the three-county NSJV, consisting of Merced, Stanislaus, and San Joaquin Counties, the Center for Business and Policy Research (CBPR) began analysis of the region’s evolving socio-economic dynamics in the early 2010s. With support of communities across the NSJV, the CBPR built on its initial work and secured funding from the U.S. Economic Development Agency to undertake a regional assessment. Findings of the assessment project were presented at a regional conference in Modesto in 2014.
Building on the assessment project, a series of regional conversations were held annually between 2015 and 2018 with the support of the J.P. Morgan Chase Foundation and other regional partners. These annual discussions dealt with a range of issues around the region’s opportunities and challenges, ranging from skills and workforce development needs to the NSJV’s changing inter-regional dynamics across the Northern California Megaregion.
Between 2013 and 2018, growing integration of the NSJV with the San Francisco Bay Area led the United States Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to add each of the region’s counties to the San Jose-San Francisco-Oakland, CA Combined Statistical Area. In 2021, the NSJV’s distinct regional dynamics were further recognized by the State of California in the regional definition used for its multi-year Community Economic Resilience Fund (CERF) Program. Given the unique nature of the NSJV in California’s heartland, it faced a distinct set of challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic. In recognition of this situation, the CBPR, with support from Wells Fargo, focused on the pandemic’s impacts on the region in its most recent assessment of the NSJV.