Our man in The City

A good move for Bob Linscheid may also be good for North State businesses

There’s a photo of Bob Linscheid on his Facebook page that says something about his life these days. He’s on the balcony of his new digs in San Francisco, enjoying a view of the bay, the Ferry Building and the Bay Bridge, and he’s wearing a Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. T-shirt.

Linscheid is on a roll. Early last year he and Jon Gregory launched their new marketing and business networking enterprise, Innovate North State. Then, in June, Linscheid became chairman of the CSU Board of Trustees. In December he married his dear heart, Pam Montana, and last month he moved to San Francisco to take a job as president and CEO of its Chamber of Commerce.

I’ve known Linscheid since 1975, when he was student body president at Chico State and I was editor of the campus newspaper, the Wildcat. That was the year of the famous gun strike, when more than 200 students protesting the arming of campus police occupied the administration building, Kendall Hall, and refused to leave. Linscheid was one of the three students who traveled to Long Beach to try to convince the CSU Board of Trustees to rescind the order. Who could have known then that one day he would chair that board?

In Chico, he pretty much invented local economic development as a business. After seven years (1986-93) as president and CEO of the Chico Chamber of Commerce, he founded the Chico Economic Planning Corp., or CEPCO, which he led for nearly 20 years. Simultaneously for nine years (1999-2008) he was CEO of the Butte County Economic Development Corp. On the side, he ran his own marketing and consulting business, The Linscheid Company. It’s fair to say he has more connections in the North State business community than anyone else.

He also played key roles in professional baseball in Chico, as general manager of the Chico Heat (1996-99), president of the Western Baseball League (1999-2002) and president of the Chico Outlaws (2004-08).

In April 2011 he joined forces with Jon Gregory, CEO of Golden Capital Network, to form Grow California, an innovation resource with a focus on venture capital, and a year later they started Innovate North State.

Now he’s in San Francisco, overseeing 22-27 employees and a multifaceted operation that includes a China-S.F. program, a leadership program, an economic-development center and a foundation, among other functions. Interviewed by phone, Linscheid said he had a “voluminous amount of learning” to do, but it’s “a heck of an opportunity.” It’s hard to move away from so many friends and associates after 27 years in Chico, he said, but his son and daughter still live here, so he’ll be visiting often.

“Bob is Bob—he’s irreplaceable,” Jon Gregory said. Fortunately, he added, Linscheid’s new role is potentially advantageous to North State businesses, offering “any number of synergies that wouldn’t have been available otherwise,” particularly when it comes to marketing in Asia.

There’s a caption near that photo of Linscheid standing on his balcony. It reads: “You can take the guy out of Chico, but you can’t take the Chico out of the guy.” That’s a good thing.