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Elk Grove Citizen

Prepare and Stay Optimistic

Feb 08, 2023 12:00AM ● By By Margaret Snider

The speakers presenting on Friday, February 3, at the 2023 Business Outlook and Economic Forecast. From left to right: Rancho Cordova City Manager Micah Runner, Sadie St. Lawrence of Women in Data, Amanda Norton, economic director for the City and Dr. Sanjay Varshney, PhD, CFA, of Goldenstone Wealth Management. Photo courtesy of Tia Gemmell Media

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RANCHO CORDOVA, CA (MPG) - The 2023 Business Outlook and Economic Forecast, sponsored by the Rancho Cordova Chamber of Commerce, presented statistics, economic information, and opinions of involved and informed people in the know about our area.  Featured speakers on Friday, February 3, included Dr. Sanjay Varshney, founder and principal of Goldenstone Wealth Management and Sadie St. Lawrence, founder and CEO, of Women in Data.

Varshney, who is also chief economist for the Sacramento Business Review, as well as professor of finance at California State University, Sacramento, began the subject of his address to the sold-out crowd at Sacramento Marriott Rancho Cordova with, “Is the Sacramento Region Ready for a Recession?” He continued with this: “Is the party over and has the hangover begun?”  He followed it with a quote from Warren Buffet, “Only when the tide goes out do you know who has been swimming naked.”

Varshney comes originally from northeastern India.  He has lived in the United States for 34 years and the Sacramento area for 18 years.  “I do a lot of economic forecasting for the region,” Varshney said. “I’ve been doing it for the last 14 years in a row.” 

He earned an undergraduate degree in accounting and financial management from Bombay University, a master’s degree in economics from the University of Cincinnati, and a PhD in finance from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. He also holds the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA®) designation. 

“We have a good tailwind,” Varshney said. This includes low inventories, chronic underinvestment in housing, and household formation.  “We made fun of the millennials,” Varshney said. “They were living in their parents’ basement at age 35, not getting married, not having children, not buying a house, not buying a car.  That’s changed.”  Further tailwinds are the millennials finally coming into wealth so they can actually spend money, the consumer remains strong, the job market remains strong. 

Countering the tailwinds are the headwinds:  employer layoffs, workers being asked to return to the office, inflation remains persistent, policy errors by the Federal Reserve and Congress.

“Then what happens if the whole thing goes radically wrong, which affects policy and we enter a period of stagflation with high inflation?”  Varshney said, “So I made these comments last year, too, right? And I’m still sticking to my guns.  I’m probably in a minority group of people who still believe that a soft landing is possible . . . The stock market, which is usually 6 months ahead of the game, has done okay.  So I’m optimistic.  That’s my message for you guys this morning – stay optimistic.  Rancho Cordova is a great place to be.”

Sadie St. Lawrence, founder and CEO of Women in Data, an international non-profit organization, focused on increasing diversity in data careers.  “We have a community of over 40,000 individuals and representation in 55 countries, and we started here in Sacramento, California,” she said of Women in Data.

St. Lawrence earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology, a master’s degree in data science and worked in neuroscience.  She also has an associate degree in piano performance and has performed on the concert stage. 

“Now my new thing is learning to play the harp,” St. Lawrence said.  “I grew up in Iowa, actually, and then I moved out to Sacramento for college and fell in love with the region and have never left.” 

The subject of St. Lawrence’s address was based on was, “How AI is rapidly changing the business landscape and what you need to do to stay competitive.” She gave surfing as an example, saying, “out in the ocean on your surfboard you can’t just sit still. You have to paddle forward and build up speed to match the velocity of the approaching wave to catch the wave. Similarly, with AI, you can’t just wait for the wave to hit you, you must take the time to learn and invest in it. I’ll be honest with you, the best time to invest in AI would have been the wave prior to 2020, but it’s never too late to start the process. Companies that were early adopters to AI (prior to 2020) are expected to see 100% increase in cash flow by 2030, whereas companies who do not adopt AI are expected to see a 20% decrease in cash flow by 2030, so the best time to start is now . . . I’ll just close by saying that the best way to predict the future is to invent it, and we are living in the perfect time to create a better world alongside AI.”

Diann Rogers, President and CEO of Rancho Cordova Chamber of Commerce, gave the results of the Business Confidence Survey comparing the first quarter of 2022 results with last quarter of 2022.  Overall, at least in expectations, in the areas of sales, profits, employment; and expectations for local, state and U.S. business conditions the results for conditions to improve was 62.5% in February of 2022 versus 51.1% in November 2022 expecting conditions to improve.

New Rancho Cordova City Manager Micah Runner (new to that position, but not new to Rancho Cordova), and Amanda Norton, economic director for the City, reported on business conditions for the City of Rancho Cordova: 

New company SolidigmTM chose Rancho Cordova for its global research and development campus, which will be home to more than 1,900 professionals in highly paid technology jobs over the next five years, investing more than $100 million into the facility;

ThermoGenesis will bring rentable wet lab space and GMP compliant clean rooms in a single facility, an industry first; 

The City has partnered with SiFi on the FiberCity® initiative. The fiber network will enable connectivity to every home and business in the city, helping to close the digital divide, and will allow multiple providers to deliver internet services, giving customers more choice;

The new Highway 50 interchange is scheduled to have the design completed by end of calendar year 2024.  The bicycle and pedestrian overcrossing on Zinfandel Drive is in the planning stages;

Home construction for fiscal year 21/22 was 652 homes with future construction anticipated to be 400 units per year with an existing base of over 4,000 units.