Transportation, housing, trade and healthcare were among the issues a Bay Area Council-led business delegation discussed this week in Washington, D.C., with top Congressional and White House leaders. Led by Council Chair Michael Covarrubias (Chairman and CEO, TMG Partners) and Council CEO Jim Wunderman, the delegation met with House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Central Valley Rep. Jeff Denham, Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, among many other legislators, cabinet and administration officials.
Delegates highlighted the importance of investment in transportation, particularly as it relates to future Northern California megaregion planning. As a growing economy blurs historic Bay Area, Sacramento and San Joaquin regional boundaries, the Bay Area Council is taking action now to address the future transportation, housing and workforce needs of the emerging megaregion. Much of the immediate focus and a major topic in meetings this week was investing to expand megaregion rail capacity, including securing federal transportation dollars for the Amtrak Capitol Corridor service and the Altamont Corridor Express (ACE Train).
The Council shared a sneak peek at new research by the Bay Area Council Economic Institute that shows the strong and growing connections between Silicon Valley and other parts of the country and how those connections can be leveraged to expand knowledge-based economic opportunities and grow jobs nationwide. The Council also advocated for free and open global trade and immigration policies. Special thanks to our sponsors Microsoft, Oracle, and Alaska Airlines. To learn more about the Council’s federal policy agenda, please contact Senior Advisor George Broder.
Net new arrivals to the Golden State have fallen 17% since February, a new LinkedIn report finds. While the Bay Area historically has shown strong economic growth numbers, we’re now seeing increasing competition for our high-skilled from new tech hubs such as Seattle, Portland, and Austin. These cities are gaining the most employees from the Bay Area, even accounting for the number of workers coming to the Bay Area. The gap is growing, driven by one major contributor – these other regions producing housing to meet population growth. The Bay Area’s struggle to produce housing to meet our growing workforce has led to skyrocketing housing costs and a talent drain in our region. With Bay Area employers struggling to find talent to fill their most in-demand positions, the Bay Area Council is working at both ends of the spectrum: with state and local government to increase housing supply and bring down cost, and with employers to seed home-grown talent and retrain their workers. To engage with the Workforce of the Future Committee please contact SVP Public Policy Linda Bidrossian; to engage with the Housing Committee please contact SVP Public Policy Matt Regan.
Time is running out to secure your seat at the Bay Area Council’s 2017 Outlook Conference: The Pacific Summit presented by Kaiser Permanente on Tuesday, May 23. We have assembled an incredible dais of leaders who will provide invaluable insights on the dramatic political and economic changes that are dominating the regional, state and national landscapes. Former Secretary of State Colin Powell and CNN host and global thinker Dr. Fareed Zakaria will talk about the populist forces that propelled Donald Trump into the White House and what it means for the Bay Area and California. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti will share his thoughts on how large metropolitan regions can address the massive challenges of housing and transportation. And San Francisco Chronicle Editor in Chief Audrey Cooper will lead a fascinating discussion on the great flight of millennials from our region and the trouble it bodes for our economy. In addition to hearing from these leaders, attendees will also have an opportunity to talk directly with them in small group discussions that are new to the conference this year. The conference will be held at The Presidio, affording attendees a beautiful, retreat-like setting to hear top thinking and interact with a high-level audience.
Learn about sponsorship opportunities and register today at www.bayareacouncil.org/outlook.
The Bay Area Council is responding to recent results of our Bay Area Council Poll that show economic confidence slipping as the region’s epic housing and traffic crises take a serious and growing toll on residents. Confidence in the Bay Area economy sunk to its lowest level in four years, according to results released last Saturday (April 1). The Bay Area Council Poll found just 24 percent of those surveyed think the economy will be doing better six months from now, down from 50 percent in 2014. Millennials (18-39) showed less confidence in the economy than older generations.
See details of the Bay Area Council Poll results>>
Poll results released on Sunday (April 2) found that older Bay Area voters who have lived here the longest and own their home are far less likely to support building new housing compared with millennials (18-39), those who rent, and those who have lived here the shortest time and are feeling the worst pain from the region’s housing shortage and affordability crisis. Still, the poll found that 70 percent of millennials support building new housing in their neighborhood, compared with 57 percent of respondents aged 40-64 and a similar number aged 65 years and older. Overall, 62 percent of Bay Area residents support building new housing in their neighborhood.
The Council is working to leverage the growing angst over housing and traffic and changing attitudes about new housing to address these issues. The Council is building on the successful passage of legislation last year to ease the path for in-law units that we estimate could add up to 150,000 new affordable units. We’re working to grow awareness of the new opportunity to build in-law units and develop financing mechanisms to help homeowners pay for them. We’re also continuing our work at the statewide level to win broader housing streamlining reforms. To engage in our Workforce Housing Committee, please contact Senior Vice President Matt Regan.
As the world watched the inauguration of President Donald Trump, the Bay Area Council Economic Institute’s 10th Annual Economic Forecast presented by McKinsey & Company and hosted by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco convened leading economists and top experts to give their economic forecast for the Bay Area, California, and the nation.
The prognosis was clear. As we usher in the new administration, we are on stable footing. Dr. Christopher Thornberg, Founding Partner of Beacon Economics and a leading expert on the California economy, presented on a set of economic indicators, showing that much of the national political rhetoric around stagnant wages, the impact of trade, and unemployment is not borne out in the economic data. Labor markets are tight and becoming tighter across most of the United States. This is particularly true in California where the housing supply problem is one of the biggest challenges to continued growth. He also assessed that, while GDP is growing relatively slowly, it is growing and economic fundamentals, such as consumer spending, remain strong. Among the challenges cited for slow growth were self-inflcted wounds and political gridlock, a weak global economy, and the shift to an information economy among others. And, while there is little chance for a recession (for now), uncertainty surrounding the new administration’s policy agenda clouds the view forward. There are broad ramifications for potential change in policy in healthcare, immigration, social insurance, trade, manufacturing, and more.
San Francisco Fed President and Council Executive Committee member John Williams offered an exclusive perspective on the U.S. economy and federal monetary policy. Williams talked about the dynamics surrounding the U.S. labor market and how the Fed is likely to gradually increase its interest rate targets over time so that the economy grows without risking a bubble. Williams emphasized how the central bank is not influenced by partisan politics, staying politically independent, data-driven and focused on its narrow goals to promote low inflation, full employment and financial stability.
Bay Area Council Economic Institute Chair and McKinsey & Company Western Region Managing Partner Kausik Rajgopal and Aspen Institute Fellow Natalie Foster explored the “Future of the Worker” in the new age of automation and the growing gig economy. In the Bay Area, the independent workforce is 30 percent of the working age population with most digital independents working in order to earn when traditional jobs falter, to provide extra income for high cost of living or to buffer uneven income streams. One of the key points discussed was how automation is focused on specific activities rather than entire jobs, and can spur more job growth.
A regional initiative the Bay Area Council is leading to increase employment opportunities for young men of color in the Bay Area got a major boost with the award of a $150,000 grant from California Workforce Development Board. The funding will enable the Council and its partners, including LeadersUp, PolicyLink and the Urban Strategies Council, to launch an innovative hiring and training pilot program that leverages our considerable network of large Bay Area employers. The Bay Area Young Men of Color Employment Partnership (BAYEP) was created last year to address the yawning gap between employers’ urgent need for entry- and middle-skills jobs and the large number of young men of color that are seeking work. Under the pilot program, five Bay Area employers will be recruited to work with BAYEP in developing a seamless process for training and hiring young men of color and building pathways within companies to enable workers to move up the employment ladder. Using findings and results from the pilot project, the program would later be scaled to include more employers and workers. To engage in the Council’s workforce policy, please contact Policy Associate Rachele Trigueros.
The Bay Area Council is urging its members to help secure a $10 million challenge grant from Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff and his wife, Lynne, to fund an ambitious campaign that aims to end homelessness for 800 San Francisco families by 2019, including almost 2,000 school children. The Benioffs have pledged personally to match contributions dollar for dollar up to a total of $10 million to help the Heading Home campaign, which was launched in 2015 to respond to a dramatic spike in family homelessness following the Great Recession. Heading Home is run by nonprofit Hamilton Families as part of a collaboration led by San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee between the city and San Francisco Unified School District with major financial support from private philanthropists like the Benioffs and companies like Google, Zendesk and others.
Heading Home uses a unique approach to rapidly re-house homeless families. The early results have been nothing short of remarkable, with 237 families being successfully moved into permanent housing over the past 18 months. Heading Home case managers remain in regular touch with families about their situation and help them get services they need, which has resulted in more than 90 percent remaining in their housing. The matching grant from Benioff will enable Heading Home to scale up its program to reach its goal of serving 800 families, and bringing down the number of days that a family is living in homelessness before they get help from the current average of 414 to no more than 90. Heading Home has enormous benefits for children, who because of homeless are twice as likely as other children to suffer from hunger, three times more likely to have behavioral issues, four times more likely to get sick, and twice as likely to repeat a grade, be suspended or drop out.
Make a donation today to the Heading Home Campaign>>
Learn more about Hamilton Families and the Heading Home Campaign>>
This week, Bay Area Council Economic Institute President Micah Weinberg attended the final White House convening for President Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper Initiative. This effort is focused on improving outcomes for Young Men of Color (YMOC), and five Bay Area cities have taken up the president’s challenge to work on everything from education to criminal justice to economic opportunity for these populations. The convening highlighted the Oakland Opportunity Fair that was a part of the work that we’ve done through our Bay Area YMOC Employment Partnership (BAYEP). Our partner in that effort, the non-profit organization My Brother’s Keeper Alliance, will be carrying this work forward after January 20th, and the President, who spoke to the group, emphasized that he sees this as his life’s work and is going to remain engaged going forward. To get involved in BAYEP, please contact Policy Manager Rachele Trigueros.
The Bay Area Council recently hosted Van Ton-Quinlivan (Vice Chancellor for Workforce and Economic Development, California Community Colleges) and Jim Mayer (Executive Director, California Forward), as well as numerous Bay Area business and civic leaders, for an engaging discussion on the allocation of $41.6 million to Bay Area community colleges in support of the Strong Workforce Program. Ton-Quinlivan highlighted the importance of business and civic input regarding the use of the funds, stating that industry feedback is critical to informing community college actions. Recommendations provided by attendees included investing in community college curriculum and instructor preparation, and developing clear career pathways in partnership with business that would then be shared with students. “If you want a talent pool instead of a talent puddle, now is the time to shape how public dollars are invested,” Ton-Quinlivan said. “We want the career technical education (CTE) graduates of our community colleges to be equipped with both the soft and hard skills you need for a strong workforce.”
During the meeting, Rock Pfontenhauer of the Bay Area Community College Consortium (BACCC) also described efforts being undertaken by BACCC and the Bay Area Council in relation to Occupational Councils. These Occupational Councils convene occupation by occupation, with the goal of examining and adjusting curriculum to fit job requirements, establishing career pathways into middle-skill jobs, and aligning the region’s 28 community colleges, 16 adult education consortia, and 14 workforce development boards with industry needs.
Participants also explored the complex relationship between employers, community colleges, and other workforce training organizations in the Bay Area region. Many in the room detailed the hiring needs of their respective constituents, and proposed various ways to specifically tap into underserved, low-income, and minority populations to meet hiring needs for well-paying but hard to fill middle-skills jobs. To engage in the Council’s workforce policy, please contact Senior Vice President Linda Bidrossian.
The Bay Area Council just loves a good challenge, and there is perhaps no bigger challenge for the region than bringing some relief to the congested mess that is our transportation system. The Council’s Executive Committee, meeting at member company Facebook in Menlo Park, on Thursday endorsed a 2017 policy platform that will direct significantly more time, energy and resources to finding and implementing both short-term and longer-term solutions to the region’s grinding traffic and overwhelmed mass transit systems. The Executive Committee under the leadership of Chair Michael Covarrubias of TMG Partners also renewed the Council’s priority policy areas from 2016 that include expanding housing, closing the workforce skills gap and securing the region’s long-term water supply in the face of continuing drought and increased competition among urban, environmental and agricultural interests.
The message was clear, however, that the highest priority must be on fixing the region’s dysfunctional commute, which ranks among the worst in the country and threatens to undermine the Bay Area’s economic success. Michael Matthews, Director of California Public Policy for Facebook, emphasized the importance of commute improvement in his remarks welcoming the Council to the social media giant’s campus, saying it is a key issue for the company along with housing (just today, Facebook announced a $20 million commitment to help local nonprofit housing and rental assistance programs).
Longer commutes, slower traffic and congested mass transit are choking the region’s economic productivity and putting us at growing competitive disadvantage with other states and regions. The Council has already begun laying the groundwork for a bold and aggressive regional transportation improvement vision that will be unveiled in the coming months. In addition, the Council will be exploring new technologies that can help manage the demand side of the transportation equation, promoting the development of autonomous vehicles and continuing our work to increase the use of private commuter shuttles. Expanding public and private water transportation services will figure prominently, and builds on great progress the Council has already made to increase public ferry service around the entire bay and promote fast-emerging private water taxi services.
Housing, of course, is another area on which the Council will continue to put heavy focus. Our leadership and advocacy this year helped win passage of the only significant housing bill in Sacramento – SB 1069 to expand accessory dwelling units (also known as in-law units) — and elevate the housing issue among elected leaders who as a result are now pointing to 2017 as the year of housing. The Council also backed affordable housing measures in Santa Clara and Alameda counties that both passed last month. Stay tuned for further details on planning for our work on housing, transportation, workforce and water policy. 2017 is going to be a big year.