U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein and Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf met with the Bay Area Council’s Board of Directors Thursday to discuss a range of pressing issues, from healthcare reform and homelessness to infrastructure investment and public safety. Board Chairman and Kaiser Permanente Chairman and CEO Bernard J. Tyson welcomed both leaders to a packed room at Kaiser’s Oakland headquarters. Feinstein updated the Board on her efforts to ban assault weapons, an issue she has championed for decades. She also discussed the importance of making Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) permanent as well as her interest in leveraging public private partnerships to repair and rebuild the nation’s aging and crumbling infrastructure.
Investing to expand and improve the region’s congested transportation system was also a top issue as Feinstein emphasized the need for a new crossing south of the Bay Bridge. Tyson thanked Feinstein for her great leadership and urged Council members to join a business delegation we’re leading to D.C. in May to promote California’s importance to the nation as some critics frame the Golden State as out of control.
Feinstein also gave warm praise for Mayor Schaaf, who described the progress Oakland is making in turning around years of crime and addressing a complicated homeless problem. Schaaf also highlighted a measure she is championing for the November ballot—the Oakland Children’s Initiative—that would invest in expanding access to early education and other early childhood programs. She touted the huge returns that early childhood investments have in increasing employment opportunities and avoiding expensive social and public safety costs. This is an issue that has long been a priority for the Council, whose executive leadership has expressed early support for Schaaf’s November measure as she works to get it placed on the ballot. The Council extends its gratitude to Kaiser Permanente for hosting our meeting.
As business and economic connections deepen across the Bay Area megaregion so do opportunities to attract greater foreign direct investment in everything from infrastructure to agriculture. The Bay Area Council’s China Initiative team highlighted those opportunities during a recent meeting with business leaders from the Greater Sacramento Economic Council (GSAC). The Council described its more than 10 years of experience building robust ties between China and the Bay Area and outlined how we can leverage the inbound services we offer to bring new investment in such booming sectors as agriculture, biotechnology, and manufacturing.
GSAC’s board of Sacramento CEOs and elected officials agreed that cooperating with the Council to attract and direct Chinese investments aligned with the broader joint megaregional strategy, which argues for improving economic development structures that cross regional lines. To this end, the Council is excited to work more closely with GSAC President and CEO Barry Broome to maximize opportunities for our intertwined economies. For more information about the Council’s work in China and inbound investment services, please contact Global Initiatives Manager Laurent Arribe.
There hasn’t been a lot of rain so far this winter, but Gov. Jerry Brown had the wet stuff on his mind this week (Jan. 11) when he released a $190 billion budget proposal that ups the state’s “Rainy Day Fund” by $5 billion to $13.5 billion. The reserve is designed to protect California against future economic downturns, which Brown believes is coming sooner rather than later. Still, the budget represents a record for California and includes a $7 billion increase over the previous spending plan. The Bay Area Council applauded many of the spending priorities, which include $4.6 billion for commute improvement projects from last year’s SB1 (Beall) legislation that the Council supported.
The plan invests $245 million to expand and protect affordable housing under SB2 (Atkins), another bill the Council supported last year. Brown proposed another $277 million for housing in anticipation of the passage of a statewide housing bond measure expected to appear on the November 2018 ballot. The spending plan also continues the Governor’s efforts to pay down the overall state debt and makes a small dent in the state’s massive pension liability shortfall. The Council is continuing to analyze the plan and will be weighing in directly as it now moves to the legislature, which has a June deadline to approve it.
Behind the Bay Area Council’s continuing advocacy, the California legislature this year took its first (albeit modest) actions to address the state’s historic housing crisis. Much, much more needs to be done, and the Council’s Executive Committee and Board of Directors, under the leadership of Chair and Kaiser Permanente CEO Bernard J. Tyson, this week approved a 2018 policy agenda that calls for escalating our work to achieve deeper, stronger and more effective reforms for spurring the tsunami of new housing the state so badly needs. Already, the Council is identifying new legislation for 2018 that can speed the approval and bring down the cost of new housing.
The 2018 agenda also prioritizes ridding the scourge of traffic fom the Bay Area’s roads and highways and getting more commuters out of their vehicles and into ferries, carpools, shuttles and other forms of transit. The Council is gearing up now for a campaign to win passage of Regional Measure 3, a $4.4 billion transportation investment plan that is expected to hit the June 2018 ballot. Rounding out the Council’s top policy priorities for 2018 is building a stronger workforce pipeline to meet the future needs of the region’s employers. The Council’s Workforce of the Future Committee is making immense strides to better align educators and employers to close the region’s yawning middle skills and talent gap, as well as creating new career opportunities for underserved youth.
Along with the top three policy priority areas, the 2018 agenda includes gender equity and workforce diversity, healthcare, advanced communication infrastructure, China and global innovation, carbon reduction and renewables, and water and climate resiliency.
The policy agenda was approved Thursday (Dec. 7) during a meeting hosted by new member Santa Clara University. The Board also welcomed state Sen. Jim Beall Jr. and applauded him for his incredible leadership as the author this year of SB 1, which invests $52 billion in statewide transportation improvements, and SB 595, which authorized the vote on Regional Measure 3. Beall talked about both measures and outlined his plans for new legislation for delivering transportation projects faster and at lower cost. The Council will be working closely with Sen. Beall on that project delivery legislation.
For over 10 years, the Bay Area Council has helped expand bilateral trade and investment between the Bay Area and the fast-emerging technology and innovation hub of Yangpu District in Shanghai, which is now the host city for China’s annual Mass Entrepreneurship and Innovation Week presided over by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang. And, last week, the Council led some of the region’s top clean energy innovators to participate in the major summit, including California Clean Energy Fund and startup incubator 500 Startups, where delegation members spoke at the week’s headline conference. In his keynote address at the Sino-US Green Innovation Forum, Council CEO Jim Wunderman highlighted the role the Bay Area plays in propelling the Yangtze Delta Region to a knowledge-based, hi-tech economy. In partnership with the Yangpu District’s government, the Council has helped over 50 Californian companies grow their presence in the Asian market.
Also this month a delegation of Bay Area life science companies and researchers traveled to China to explore business development and expansion opportunities. Organizations such as BIOCOM and Twist Bioscience expressed the unique benefits and opportunities that come with working in China – a process simplified by the Council’s China Initiative platform. Ongoing projects such as the Council’s Global Innovation Center in Nanjing and partnership work in Hangzhou will continue to expand economic opportunities between California and the Yangtze Delta Region as it continues to transform its industrial economy into a globally competitive, innovation hub. To engage in our China initiative, please contact Chief of Global Business Development Del Christensen.
The Bay Area Council this week was honored to welcome Beijing Mayor Chen Jining to the Bay Area as he attended a ceremony for the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that takes a step forward for a possible new Council office in China’s capital city. The visit by Mayor Chen, former President of prestigious Tsinghua University and Chinese Minister of Environmental Protection, and a delegation of top level Chinese economic and innovation officials highlighted the Council’s deep and growing relationships in China as we work to expand bilateral trade and investment. The MOU between the Council, world-famous Zhongguancun Science Park, which serves as Chinese headquarters for such U.S. companies as Google, Oracle and Intel, and Council of Industry and Technology Alliances in Z-Park marked a significant step forward in our work to expand economic connections with Beijing. The MOU calls for exploring the creation of a new think tank, developing a research and development platform and establishing branch offices both here and in Beijing. Council CEO Jim Wunderman joined Wang Chengwen, Vice Chairman of the Council of Industry and Technology Alliances in Z-Park, and Zhai Lixin, Director General of the Administrative Committee of Zhongguancun Science Park, in signing the MOU. To engage in our China initiative, please contact Chief of Global Business Development Del Christensen.
The Bay Area Council this week joined leaders from the Chinese district of Gulou to announce the launch of an exciting new Bay Area Innovation Center in Nanjing. Bay Area Council Economic Institute President Dr. Micah Weinberg traveled to Nanjing to serve as a keynote speaker at the Golden Autumn Trade Festival where the new center was announced. The center will offer companies resources to access the region’s top tier talent and establish a bridge for startups to navigate between the Yangtze Delta region, San Francisco and Silicon Valley. Discussions focused on Nanjing’s efforts to transition to an innovation economy through its connections with the Bay Area. With the help of the Economic Institute, as the leading think tank focusing on the key issues affecting the Bay Area economy, the Bay Area Innovation Center will serve as the platform connecting key resources such as training, services, capital and institutions to realize this vision. Over the past 10 years, the Bay Area Council has published seminal reports explaining the components of how our innovation ecosystem works at a global scale, and worked to guide Chinese investors looking to enter or expand in the Bay Area and California marketplaces. To learn about the Economic Institute’s upcoming report on Chinese Innovation or to get involved with Council’s China Initiative, please contact Chief of Global Business Development Del Christensen.
A rising star in China’s fast-emerging technology and innovation sector that the Bay Area Council has been partnering with since our entry into the country 10 years ago has earned high praise from the country’s leadership. The Yangpu District of Shanghai has been named one of just three venues for China’s annual Mass Entrepreneurship and Innovation Week conference in September. The Council is helping organize a delegation to participate in a Sino-US Incubator Green Innovation Forum on September 18 as part of the conference, which will be presided over by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang. Yangpu’s hosting of the conference comes on top of its designation as a “National Pilot Innovation District” in 2010 and an “Entrepreneur and Innovation Model Base” in 2016. The Green Innovation Forum will be attended by Chinese government leaders and local enterprises from Yangpu, Shanghai and the Bay Area, including various incubators and accelerators, and emerging and successful business leaders. To join the Council’s delegation and to learn more about our work to expand economic opportunities in China for Bay Area companies, please contact Chief of Global Business Development Del Christensen.
Chinese investment in the U.S. is booming and the Bay Area Council is working to attract as much as possible to our region. Chinese foreign direct investment in the United States reached $45.6 billion in 2016, triple the amount from 2015. Real estate development is one the biggest segments of Chinese investment, with deal volumes reaching a record high of $19.2 billion in 2016, according to a recent article in Forbes that put the Bay Area as the second largest recipient of incoming funds among major metropolitan areas.
Against that backdrop, the Council on Tuesday (Aug. 8) was honored to welcome executives from Agile Property Holdings Ltd., a leading real estate developer in the Chinese market considering expansion to the Bay Area. The discussion, which included executives from member companies Colliers International, Deloitte, Greenberg Traurig, and Hanson Bridgett, centered on the region’s housing need, market opportunities, and real estate challenges. To learn how the Council facilitates inbound business and investment and to capitalize on like business opportunities, please contact Chief of Global Business Development Del Christensen.
On Tuesday, the Council was joined by Fiona Ma, member of the California Board of Equalization, to honor 14 top banking officials from China’s central government. The Chinese delegation, participating in Visa’s annual training and exchange immersion program in the US financial system, was welcomed by the Bay Area business community and engaged in cross-discussions on California-China initiatives and collaborations.
Economic & Commercial Counselor Yang Yihang, from the Chinese Consulate-General’s Office in San Francisco, offered welcoming remarks, commending the delegates for their participation in the program. Boasting of California’s significant trade and investment ties with China, Fiona Ma highlighted the innovation and financial activities happening on the individual-state level and underscored the mutual benefits in continued cross-exchanges.
The event concluded with open discussion between the delegation and California businesses on topics ranging from China’s foreign direct investment in California to California’s potential involvement in China’s One Belt One Road Initiative. Fostering dialogue and the sharing of opportunities in the unique cross-border relationship is a key focus for the Council operating the California-China Office of Trade and Investment. To learn how the Council can help businesses maneuver amidst China’s changing political and economic environment, please contact Chief of Global Business Development Del Christensen.