SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Tim Keller, entrepreneur, wants to help revive the California economy – but only on his terms.
Working from a basement office near UC Davis, he has started a company with a quirky, only-in-California quality to it. VinPerfect's product: a high-tech seal designed to improve the performance of screw caps on wine bottles.
Don't laugh. Keller believes he can topple the $1 billion-a-year market for corks. He has raised $150,000 so far from investors and could begin commercial operations in a year.
But there's a catch. The lifelong Californian will outsource production – to China, maybe – if he can't get past the state's environmental laws.
"Feeding my family is still higher on the food chain than employing Californians," said Keller, 34, the father of a 2-year-old.
Such is the state of the California dream in 2010, with unemployment stuck at 12.5 percent and the recovery slow to take flight.
Time and again, the state's economy, driven by technology and entrepreneurship, has roared back to life after being declared dead. It could well happen again, despite the epidemic of empty storefronts and idle construction cranes.
"The core of the California economy is still in place," said Chris Thornberg of Beacon Economics in Los Angeles.
But a full comeback isn't guaranteed. California no longer competes only with other states for jobs. It competes with the whole world.
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