Bay Area Council Blog: Membership Archive

Thanksgiving Holiday Travel Expected To Increase 11 Percent From 2009

Council Doubling Down on Solving Regional Commute Mess

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.


BAC Insiders Tour: SFO

SFO International Airport reflects the City itself: small but mighty.  In its compact 2,500 acres of developed land, it manages to move more than 50 million passengers a year, employ 31, 000 staff, and ease traffic congestion for its 2,300 parking stalls.  This week, the Bay Area Council and 20 Bay Area business leaders took their special tour by meeting new General Manager Ivar Satero, who discussed SFO’s future. This included focusing on domestic travel, and continuing support of traffic and transportation decongestion by promoting relationships with BART, Uber and Lyft.


SFO’s runway is a precise, geometrically intricate diagram, like a multi-level game of frogger, with planes able to take off and land within seconds of each other. Included at this busy airport are three fire stations, a complete repair facility, marine facility, and Coast Guard office. Baggage claim is run by computers, with just one individual overseeing brightly-lit monitors that give an overview of every baggage conveyer.  Automation has significantly decreased incidents of baggage being lost or misrouted.


A stroll through LEED Gold certified Terminal 2 illustrates why it is the model for future airport check-in design. After the check-point, passengers are surrounded by soothing artwork in a very large, spacious lobby that leads to mid- to high-level shopping, cafes, and mini-museums.  Another overall goal for SFO is utilizing space and “flow” to direct passengers to where they need to enter or exit the airport.  Combining efficiency to enhance passenger experience by coordinating execution with state of the art technology, SFO International stays current, relevant, and continues to lead the way to better air travel.

kkr-logo web

Member Spotlight: KKR

Congratulations to KKR, the global investment firm which recently celebrated their 40th anniversary. In 1976, their vision was to create a firm with a culture that rewarded collaboration and teamwork, a genuine partnership. “Our greatest asset is – and always will be – our people” say co-founders and co-CEOs Henry Kravis and George Roberts.

True to their statement, KKR has implemented a series of initiatives designed to support their hard-working parents, including: extending paid leave for primary caregivers (male or female) from 12 to 16 weeks, implementing a firm-paid Childcare Travel Program to provide employees the option of bringing their infant and childcare provider on essential business-related travel within their infant’s first year, offering executives parental leave transition support for transitioning to or from parental leave, and introducing on-site wellness programs.

KKR is also proud to be a founding member of the Working Parents Support Coalition, a group of corporations committed to enacting policies that support working parents and will improve health, development and economic outcomes. Since becoming a founding member, KKR has continued to expand adoption reimbursement benefits to all employees, improved lactation support and resources for nursing mothers, introduced firm-paid breast milk shipping during business travel, implemented coverage for gender reassignment surgery, and maintained unlimited benefits for fertility treatments.


Member Spotlight: Year Up

Six million motivated young adults in this country lack access to stable career pathways. At the same time, 12 million U.S. jobs will go unfulfilled in the next decade. Can the United States afford this growing economic and social gap in its workforce?

These are troubling realities that represent a tremendous national opportunity. With locations in 18 cities, Year Up offers these young adults a training program that combines six months of intensive technical training and professional skills development with a six-month internship at one of its 250+ corporate partners (45+ in the Bay Area). Connecting underserved young adults with the skills, knowledge and experience that today’s businesses demand ensures these young adults begin successful careers.  In return, employers gain access to a wider pipeline of well-trained talent than ever before —the talent they need to compete across the globe.

Over 90 percent of Year Up’s corporate partners would recommend Year Up to a friend or colleague as a talent solution. Learn more about hosting an intern or hiring an alum. Individuals can get involved too - volunteer to support interns with mock interviews, resume workshops, networking events, guest speaking, mentoring or tutoring.  It’s a hand up, not a hand out.  And it’s a win for our communities, partners, and economy. Watch Year Up alum Aika’s story here.


Member Spotlight: 49ers Foundation Makes Big Play to Help Community

The 49ers Foundation has a long history of generously supporting its community, particularly in the areas of STEM education programs and summer camps.  Most recently,  and 49ers CEO Jed York, who serves on the Bay Area Council Executive Committee, announced that the 49ers Foundation will contribute $1 million to the cause of improving racial and economic inequality and fostering communication and collaboration between law enforcement and the communities they serve here in the Bay Area.

Says York, “We are partnering with the Silicon Valley Community Foundation and the San Francisco Foundation in this effort. We have chosen to work with these two organizations because they have proven track records of affecting change in the face of challenging problems and have the collective reach to make the greatest impact. We are excited to work with these two renowned foundations over the coming months to develop a giving plan to help our community find unifying solutions to these pressing issues.”

This new commitment is designed to “get the focus where it belongs.”  Our hats are off to the 49ers Foundation.

Bay Area CEO Roundtable_web

CEO Policy Roundtable Focuses on Coming Trends, Challenges

The Bay Area Council on Thursday (Sept. 8) hosted a CEO Roundtable discussion moderated by KPMG San Francisco Managing Partner Debbie Messemer that brought together Council CEO Jim Wunderman, Proterra CEO Ryan Popple, TriNet President and CEO Burton Goldfield,  and former BRE Properties CEO Connie Moore. The panel shared their insights on challenges they face and significant trends impacting companies today. The discussion centered around several key findings from KPMG’s U.S. CEO Outlook survey. Among the findings highlighted, U.S. CEOs believe that the next three years will be more critical for their industries than the past 50.

A stronger client focus, fostering innovation and talent development are the top three priorities for U.S. CEOs, while they see cyber security threats as the greatest risk. CEOs are most concerned about keeping up with new technologies, and customer loyalty, needs and expectations, though only 51 percent say they use data analytics to improve their products and services.  Despite these significant challenges, 98 percent of U.S. CEOs expect to increase headcount over the next three years, and they are incredibly optimistic about the prospects for growth of their companies.

The roundtable discussion underscored six key takeaways from KPMG’s CEO Outlook:

  • Companies need to be agile to stay ahead of disruption – every industry is impacted.
  • In today’s environment, CEOs must focus more attention on how they do business.
  • CEOs must be open to forming new alliances and partnerships or collaborative growth to succeed. It’s important to understand the dynamics between large and small companies to ensure a fruitful collaboration.
  • The client experience will become an even more important differentiator in the marketplace.
  • Leaders need to embrace change and look ahead to create a more intelligent, data-driven experience for their customers, their teams, and their partners.
  • CEOs can learn from Bay Area’s leading companies who tend to be more optimistic, use innovation and are prepared for transformation. The world looks to us for innovation.

The CEO panel discussion was attended by 80 Bay Area business and thought leaders.  For more information on BAC policy roundtables, contact Chief Business Officer Kirsten Vernon.


Member Spotlight: Pucci Foods

Pucci Foods has been around for almost 100 years, but the Hayward-based seafood supplier is not stuck in the past. Under the leadership of CEO Chris Lam, Pucci Foods is making a bold move from supplying wholesale and retail outlets – stores and restaurants – to delivering direct to consumers. The innovation recognizes the growing consumer demand for direct-delivery food service. And it builds on the infrastructure that Pucci has already mastered in its wholesale and retail services, giving it a leg up against newer start-ups that are only beginning to enter the space. That and Pucci’s reputation as the Bay Area’s leading wholesale and retail purveyor of seafood give it an immediate competitive advantage. Pucci’s expansion into consumer-direct was prominently featured in a story this week by the East Bay Times, which includes the fascinating life story of Chris Lam and his journey from Vietnamese refugee to successful business owner. Learn more about Pucci’s new consumer-direct service at


Council Names Bernard J. Tyson Vice Chair

The Bay Area Council Executive Committee has elected Kaiser Permanente Chairman and CEO Bernard J. Tyson Vice Chair of the organization, positioning the Council for continuing strong leadership in addressing the region’s major challenges. Tyson joins Chair Michael Covarrubias, Chairman and CEO of TMG Partners, in filling out the Executive Committee’s top two leadership roles.

“Bernard’s appointment will ensure the Council continues a powerful legacy of business leadership in the Bay Area and California,” said Covarrubias, who is in the middle of a two-year term as Chair that ends in 2017. “I’m glad he said yes. It’s comforting to know that a visionary like Bernard is waiting in the wings to carry the Council forward. I’m excited to work with him during my term as Chair to achieve the Council’s important policy goals and make sure that the voice of business is heard loud and clear – here, in Sacramento and D.C.”

As chief executive of a $61 billion a year organization that serves 10.6 million members in eight states and the District of Columbia, and employs 180,000 workers and 18,000 physicians, Tyson is widely considered one of the nation’s most influential health care leaders. Tyson has played an instrumental role in shaping the Council’s health care policy agenda and its focus on providing high-quality care, controlling costs and making health care accessible for more Californians. And he has provided important leadership on the Council’s Executive Committee of CEOs and other top executives in setting and achieving the Council’s overall policy priorities.

“The Bay Area Council is working across the entire region and across industries to create positive dialogue intended to solve our region’s toughest challenges,” Tyson said. “I’m honored by the appointment, and I look forward to working with Mike Covarrubias and the entire Council leadership to create an even stronger economy and more vibrant communities for everyone who lives and works here.”

Tyson’s selection as Vice Chair adds momentum to the progress the Council is making on its lead policy priorities under Covarrubias. The Council is waging an aggressive campaign to expand workforce housing in California, working to win passage in the state Legislature of a proposal by Governor Jerry Brown to fast track local approval of affordable housing. The Council is also focused on reducing traffic congestion and increasing investment in regional transportation systems, ensuring the Bay Area has a reliable water supply and building stronger connections between employers and higher education institutions to close the middle skills employment gap.

In addition to his role at Kaiser Permanente, Tyson is also an outspoken voice nationally on addressing and improving race relations, and for increasing economic opportunities for boys and men of color. His 2014 essay following Michael Brown’s death in Ferguson, MO – It’s Time to Revolutionize Race Relations – described his experience as an African American CEO and contributed to the national conversation on the status of race in the U.S. Under his leadership, Kaiser Permanente is serving as an early champion of a new regional pilot project launched in Oakland on July 22 that will work to provide jobs for hundreds of Bay Area youths, with specific focus on boys and men of color.

“Bernard J. Tyson is a leader’s leader,” said Jim Wunderman, President and CEO of the Bay Area Council. “Bernard brings to the Council Executive Committee an incredible background of business acumen, knowledge and experience. And while his professional career has been in healthcare, Bernard readily grasps the bigger picture of issues – from housing, to transportation, to workforce opportunity – affecting employers, workers and the broader community. The Council looks forward to thriving with his leadership.”

Read Bernard J. Tyson’s full biography>>

megaregion report

New Report: As Northern California Megaregion Takes Shape, Megaproblems Intensify

The Northern California megaregion is one of the largest and fastest-growing in the United States, but the rapid speed and scale at which it is taking shape is creating megaproblems that highlight the urgent need for greater collaboration, investment and planning in the areas of housing, transportation, education and economic development, and goods movement, according to a new report the Bay Area Council Economic Institute released today.

Encompassing the Bay Area, Sacramento and northern San Joaquin valleys and Monterey Bay Area, the NorCal megaregion is home to a complex network of job centers, neighborhoods and transportation corridors in 21 counties and 164 cities. The many rail, road, labor, goods movement, and innovation connections that currently exist between these once-independent regions provide evidence of a growing integration among them.

Read The Northern California Megaregion: Innovative, Connected, Growing>>

The 12.2 million residents that call the megaregion home represent nearly one-third of California’s population, with 1.5 million being added since 2000 and another 1.9 million expected by 2030. And, the megaregion’s 2014 gross regional product of $875 billion was 5 percent of the nation’s GDP and the highest per capita in the country.

“The blurring lines among these four regions means we need to sharpen our focus on megaregional collaboration,” said Dr. Micah Weinberg, President of the Bay Area Council Economic Institute. “The Northern California megaregion is like an engine powered by multiple cylinders. You get the most power and the most efficiency when all the cylinders are finely tuned and firing together. Increasing the connections and coordination among the different parts of the megaregion will create an unstoppable economic powerhouse and ensure a high quality of life.”

Home to three of California’s fastest-growing counties, the NorCal megaregion has also been one of the nation’s leading job creators across multiple industries, particularly in technology. Much of the job growth has been concentrated in the Bay Area, where rising demand and an historic housing shortage has resulted in a perfect storm of skyrocketing rents and home prices. Priced out of the Bay Area, growing legions of workers are increasingly seeking less expensive options in distant communities to the east.

As a result, although the megaregion’s workforce increased by 17 percent between 1990 and 2013, the number of commuters crossing “traditional” regional boundaries grew by 78 percent. More than two-thirds of them or nearly 175,000 employees, including from areas immediately outside the megaregion, commute into the Bay Area for work, resulting in clogged freeways and commutes that take hours, contribute to regional air pollution and stymie the state’s efforts to meet aggressive targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Increasing investment in megaregion commuter rail systems like Amtrak’s Capitol Corridor and San Joaquins services and the Altamont Corridor Express (ACE) can create stronger and more efficient transportation connections, expand ridership capacity and reduce pressure on already congested roads and highways, according to the report. Today, the three megaregional rail services serve a combined 3 million passenger trips a year, with Amtrak recently announcing the expansion of its San Joaquin service to address growing ridership.

Improving coordination among passenger and commercial freight rail carriers that share the same tracks can also help expand the capacity for both and support the megaregion’s important trade and goods movement industry. That will be important as projections show that by 2020 the major rail segments in the megaregion will be operating very near capacity.

Better distributing job growth within the megaregion across a range of industries could also hold the answer to nagging housing and transportation problems, the report suggests, while also helping spread greater prosperity.

The Bay Area technology industry has been a chief driver of new jobs in Northern California, fueled largely by the heavy concentration of highly educated workers and a strong network of public and private universities, state and community colleges and research laboratories. Raising education levels throughout the megaregion by increasing investment in state and community colleges and building better connections with employers can make regions outside the Bay Area more attractive for companies looking to start a business or grow. That can also help attract more venture capital investment to inland regions as entrepreneurs, start-ups and growing companies look for less expensive alternatives to the Bay Area, including outside the state.

There’s evidence this is already happening. Since 1990, the Sacramento area has seen the greatest increase of workers on a percentage basis in the high-tech sector of any California region. A thriving innovation and tech sector in the Tri-Valley area is leading to strong connections with bordering San Joaquin County.

“There’s no reason to cede our thriving tech economy to places like Boston, Austin and Seattle when the NorCal megaregion offers plenty of room, connections and opportunity,” said Jim Wunderman, President and CEO of the Bay Area Council. “We can have our cake and eat it, too, but we need mega-planning to stay ahead and address our housing, transportation and workforce challenges. It means breaking down traditional geographic and other barriers and working together.”

Among the specific recommendations for the megaregion that are included in the report:

  • Make a substantial investment in education outside the Bay Area to spread businesses and workforce talent across a broader geography. Investments in California State University system, the community college network, and apprenticeship programs in inland areas can prepare residents for jobs in growing industries, including technology, health care, business services and logistics.
  • Create economic development structures that cross county lines. Currently, economic development efforts are locally-oriented.  Enhanced information sharing across the megaregion can help companies expand operations in places such as Davis and Sacramento instead of in competitive regions such as Portland or Austin with similar workforce profiles and affordability.
  • Prioritize improved and expanded service of megaregional rails lines. Intra-regional transit systems, particularly passenger rail, need to be expanded to move millions of commuters more efficiently throughout the region. That means supporting expanded service on ACE, San Joaquins and Capitol Corridor routes and prioritizing investment in megaregional rail hubs in Livermore, San Jose, and Oakland in the 2018 California State Rail Plan.
  • Streamline housing approval processes across the megaregion, especially those that are served by transit. Governor Jerry Brown proposes that cities and counties require only “by-right” approval for certain types of housing projects. By-right approval can help to spur housing development across the Northern California megaregion and facilitate higher density building near existing or planned rail stations, giving residents greater choice in where they live and work.
  • Institute a statewide tax credits to incentivize new business development and job creation in inland areas. The package of tax credits issued at the state level, including a venture capital investment tax credits, a geographically targeted R&D tax credit, and a New Markets Tax Credit, would promote the movement of more capital to other parts of the megaregion.

What Others Are Saying

“This report describes a scale of connectedness that reflects the service Capitol Corridor provides today and we need to be ready for tomorrow.”

—Jim Allison, Manager of Planning, Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority

“This research helps prepare our neighboring regions and local communities to be competitive and maximize economic opportunities with vibrant places, jobs and housing options closer together, and travel options that help us get out of traffic. Collectively, we have a better chance of bringing new jobs and a higher quality of life to our communities.”

 —Mike McKeever, CEO, Sacramento Area Council of Governments

“The report confirms and expands upon our research about the increasingly integrated Megaregion labor market.  The Bay Area Council’s recommendations for Megaregion policy and planning efforts are important and timely.”

—Dr. Jeff Michael, Executive Director, Center for Business and Policy Research, University of the Pacific

“As the communities within the Northern California Megaregion continue to grow, we must meet their needs by striving to offer additional train service throughout the megaregion. Riders need frequent, convenient scheduling options to choose from in order to incorporate train travel into their business or leisure trips.  Increasing the frequency of Amtrak San Joaquins will greatly improve the connectivity between the San Joaquin Valley, the Bay Area, and Sacramento”

—John Pedrozo, Chair of the San Joaquin Joint Powers Authority; Merced County Supervisor

“There are over 65,000 commuters traveling daily from the Northern San Joaquin Valley to the Bay Area – most of which are coming over the Altamont Pass. We are very pleased this study of the Northern California Megaregion highlights the importance of improving and expanding the Altamont Corridor Express (ACE) service to help meet the growing transportation demands between the Northern San Joaquin Valley, the Tri-Valley, and the Silicon Valley.”

Bob Johnson, Chair of the San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission; Lodi City Councilmember

“California’s state capital is a big part of the solution. Sacramento is already the #2 choice for people leaving the Bay Area. Sacramento’s costs are 67 percent those of San Francisco. Businesses that relocate to Sacramento have access to a young and educated workforce, enjoy a significant cost savings, and remain within the Megaregion.”

—Barry Broome, President and CEO of the Greater Sacramento Area Economic Council

“We are in a good place as one of the fastest growing areas in the world, but that good place can collapse under the weight of its own success unless we choose to do something about the inadequate production of housing and the resulting rising unaffordability of housing. This creates transportation systems that are clogged with commuters and employees who have to make long commutes to their jobs diminishing their quality of life. And because of Nimbyism, communities now have no place for the young or middle class. Only through collaboration and embracing the big idea can we solve these problems. The Bay Area Council has always been a catalyst for collaboration and this report and its findings can bring us closer to a solution. But we have to act.”

— Dale Eldridge Kaye, CEO, Innovation Tri-Valley Leadership Group

“This important study sets the stage for increasing dialogue, planning and defining opportunities to collectively work together to  our mega-regional needs.”

Arthur L. Dao, Alameda CTC Executive Director


Gingrich Talks Presidential Politics with Jim Wunderman

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, now a Senior Advisor to Bay Area Council member Dentons law firm, sat down with business leaders on Tuesday (June 7) to discuss Election Day politics and policy.  Moderated by Bay Area Council CEO Jim Wunderman, the discussion covered a range of topics including national security, foreign and domestic policy and, of course, the Presidential election.  At a reception that followed, guests had the opportunity to meet with Gingrich, who has lately been reported to be on the short list of candidates for Vice President on the Republican ticket.

Watch the full discussion with Newt Gingrich>>