California has lost ground in the race for economic development, stumbling over such problems as pollution, competition from other states and foreign countries and a misperception that the state is anti-business, the head of a public policy research group said Tuesday.
"California has been the quintessential land of opportunity . . . the land of the future," Robert C. Holland, president of the New York-based Committee for Economic Development, said in a speech here before Town Hall of California. "The rub with such a string of successes like California has put together is that each such success brings new challenges."
States are best able to promote economic development by "getting the basic infrastructure right," Holland said. That includes improving education, public safety and the physical infrastructure of transportation, water supply, sewage and waste management, communications and power, he said.
California historically has excelled in developing its educational, water supply and transportation systems, Holland said. But a study of regional economic development that the group is conducting has found that, even in those areas, "California is going to have to make some changes to meet the challenges of the rest of the 1980s and 1990s," he said.