“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” So began the classic Charles Dickens’ novel, “A Tale of Two Cities.” In our story, we’re talking about a city that’s not really a city, the San Fernando Valley, a formidable economic region that is a city in every way except its governance. The Valley is doing great, and yet has major issues to tackle.

Some years ago, people in the Valley wanted to formally become an independent city. Many asked, why? The question then and now relates to vision, need, struggle, opportunities and accomplishments. The answer is simple. This region is equivalent to a major standalone city, and needs to have its own cohesive plan and governance rather than vying for scarce resources, support and representation.

In the absence of a local, elected government, civic organizations in the Valley have stepped up to fill the gaps. Many of these groups have existed a long time and have specific purposes. Over the years, they have had an extraordinary impact on the Valley, its economy and quality of life, affecting growth, transportation, education and more. However, for the most part they operate in the shadows, lacking recognition in the community they serve. This is a problem because if people don’t know these organizations and what they can do, then people don’t know where to turn for help. Businesses don’t know about these resources, and so don’t contribute to, or take advantage of, them. On top of that, organizations are only as strong as the individuals who put time, talent and treasure into making them work.

To be sustainable, these organizations need more people to become civically involved. The fresh faces of a new generation of entrepreneurs and leaders are out there, and their participation is sorely needed. Together, we can guide the exceptional Valley organizations and resources available to create the greatest benefit for our community.

To function most effectively, these civic groups need to be connected and coordinated, tied in to a collective vision. This is where The Valley Economic Alliance fits, as a true alliance, engaging and uniting leaders in this Valley for this Valley. The Alliance has its own role, facilitating economic development in the Valley, on a large and small scale, through a variety of means. To this end, the Alliance is in the final stages of completing its strategic planning process, with the next meeting to be held later this week, on May 17.