Bay Area Council Blog: Membership Archive

December 1, 2015- L-R,   Terry Johnson, Sandia Lab, Project Lead and NREL researcher Chris Ainscough work on the Hydrogen Station Equipment Performance (HyStEP) device at the Energy Systems Integration Lab at NREL in Golden, CO. HyStEP is designed to facilitate the commissioning of hydrogen stations by testing their ability to meet the SAE J2601 fueling protocol.  (Photo by Dennis Schroeder / NREL)

Member Spotlight: Sandia National Laboratories

Sandia National Laboratories, answers the call for faster-to-market EV fuel cell stations.  Heeding California’s call for Winning the Clean Energy Transition, Sandia’s HyStEP (Hydrogen Station Equipment Performance) device accelerates hydrogen refueling station commissioning from months to just one week.

Developed by U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Sandia National Laboratories and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), the Hydrogen Station Equipment Performance device, or HyStEP, could reduce the time to commission new stations from months to just one week.  HyStEP is funded by DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s Fuel Cell Technologies Office as part of the Hydrogen Fueling Infrastructure Research and Station Technology (H2FIRST) project.

“Industry stakeholders identified station commissioning as a challenge that the national laboratories have the resources to address,” said Joe Pratt, the Sandia H2FIRST project lead. Sandia and NREL contracted with Powertech Labs to build the HyStEP device.

As zero-emission vehicles, hydrogen vehicles are poised to revolutionize clean energy personal transportation. California is leading the nation, with the most hydrogen vehicles on the road of any state and plans to open 35 new retail hydrogen stations by the end of 2016. Sandia and NREL’s work on H2FIRST and in enabling modern codes and standards for the design, construction and operation of hydrogen refueling stations, is helping drive that momentum.  This is an important step in meeting the state’s ambitious carbon reduction and zero-emission vehicle goals. Read more>>



Tideline Marine Group is a maritime transportation and logistics company providing commuter water shuttle and water taxi service, as well as maritime management and consulting services. Tideline Water Taxi’s success to date has been driven by an ever-increasing interest from commuters, public policy and business leaders, and property developers who are looking to water transportation on San Francisco Bay as a means of dealing with the region’s population growth and grinding traffic.

Signaling Tideline’s continuing growth, CEO and Founder Capt. Taylor Lewis recently announced the hiring of Nathan Nayman as President and Wayne Markowitz as Chief Financial Officer. Nayman for decades has been a powerful advocate for the business community and has contributed strong leadership in the Bay Area Council’s policy work. Tideline also announced a significant new investment from Blum Capital Partners that will help the company expand its fleet as it seeks regulatory permission to launch commuter shuttle service between Berkeley and San Francisco. Learn more about Tideline Marine Group>>



Congratulations to new BAC member, Blaisdell’s Business Products!  With 50+ years of experience, Blaisdell’s is the largest, woman-owned, independent business products supplier in the Bay Area.  Like other growing businesses, Blaisdell’s recently moved its headquarters to Oakland where they continue to focus on sustainability, support education in the community, and donate a percentage of profits to the UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland.  The company is proud to have garnered the attention of famous “list-keepers” including, 2015 Fortune Magazine’s 100 Fastest Growing Inner City Companies; 2015 SF Business Times’ Top 100 Women-Owned Bay Area Businesses; 2015 SF Business Times’ Fastest Growing Bay Area Businesses and 2015 SF Business Times’ Top Furniture Dealers in Bay Area. Learn more about Blaisdell’s Business Products.



The question of a coming downturn was among the main topics addressed today (Jan. 15) at the Bay Area Council Economic Institute’s 9th Annual Economic Forecast presented by Accenture and hosted by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. Fed President and Council Executive Committee member John Williams opened the conference with his insights on the U.S. economy and federal monetary policy. Williams talked about the dynamics surrounding the U.S. labor market, including weak labor force participation despite growing employment. On interest rates, Williams said he expects the recent increase will be followed with continuing “gradual” increases over the next three years.

On the California and Bay Area fronts, UCLA Anderson Forecast senior economist Jerry Nickelsburg said employment growth will continue, but that it will slow in the next 2-3 years. Part of the slowdown, he said, is tied to an historic shortage of housing that is pushing prices into the stratosphere and discouraging workers from coming here. Housing starts, he said, are starting to rebound but not at sufficient levels to make up for deficit. Nickelsburg didn’t put a timeframe on a possible economic downturn, but he outlined some key indicators he said would signal a recession, including the implosion of overvalued startups – unicorns, pentacorns and decacorns – fear of global problems (China slowdown, Middle East turmoil, Euro uncertainty) and declining consumer demand for technology equipment and software.

Tracey Grose, Chair of State Controller Betty Yee’s Council of Economic Advisors, talked about the Bay Area’s innovation economy, the continuing emergence of advanced manufacturing and the growing “gig” economy. Accenture Managing Director Eric Wittke then moderated a discussion on the “gig” or “platform” economy with Kaiser Permanente Chief Information Officer Dick Daniels and Lyft Director of International Government Relations Mike Masserman.


MEMBER SPOTLIGHT: BAYER Marks STEM Leadership Milestone

Celebrating the 20th anniversary of its award-winning “Making Science Make Sense” program, Bayer and the National PTA announced plans to engage 100,000 students in hands-on STEM activities over the next three years. The goal is to inspire the next generation of STEM professionals.

Bayer is a Bay Area leader in STEM education. In 1992, the company launched Biotech Partners, training disadvantaged Berkeley youth for biotech jobs. In 2011, Bayer scaled up that model with a grant that established the Institute for STEM Education at Cal State East Bay.

“Building a diverse workforce is a business imperative for us, and we are pleased to work with so many dedicated partners in the Bay Area and nationally,” noted Joerg Heidrich, Bayer’s Sr. VP and a long-time BAC Executive Committee member.

Bayer, a global life science company with core competencies in health care and agriculture, is the Bay Area’s third largest biotech employer. Learn more about Bayer’s Making Science Make Sense program>>



The Bay Area Council is taking dead aim at solving the region’s crisis-level housing and traffic problems with a 2016 policy agenda adopted this week (Dec. 3) by the Executive Committee that also targets critical water and drought issues and the growing challenge employers are facing in attracting talent across a range of skills. Under the leadership of Council Chair Michael Covarrubias, Chairman and CEO of TMG Partners, the Executive Committee developed the policy agenda over the past two months with input from the Council’s 275 member companies.

“The Council and this region are extremely fortunate to have the dedicated and visionary leadership that our Executive Committee and Board are bringing to bear against these difficult challenges,” said Jim Wunderman, President and CEO of the Bay Area Council. “The priorities they have identified rightly reflect the major issues of our time, and we are confident that with their collective action the Council will start bending the curve to solve them.”

The Council’s 2016 Focus Policy Priorities include:

Workforce Housing. The Bay Area’s historic failure to build housing sufficient to meet employment and population growth is fueling an epic affordability crisis that could have long-term consequences for the region’s economic success. The Housing Committee, Co-Chaired by Lennar Urban President Kofi Bonner and TMG Partners Managing Partner Denise Pinkston, is working to significantly increase the supply of housing units and commercial space throughout the region by mitigating regulatory barriers to development of all kinds. To engage in our Workforce Housing work, contact Senior Vice President Matt Regan.

Commute Improvement. Traffic has reached crisis levels, and our public transportation systems are bursting at the seams. Under the leadership of Heller Manus Architects President Jeffrey Heller and UPS Northern California District President Rosemary Turner, the Transportation Committee is working on a range of innovative solutions that include expanding carpool and toll lanes, leveraging new traffic management technologies, emphasizing overall transportation corridors and developing new financing tools and local revenue sources for investing in maintaining and expanding capacity. To engage in our transportation policy work, contact Senior Vice President Michael Cunningham.

Water Supply and Security. Our economy relies on access to clean, reliable and affordable supplies of water. With historic drought, competing demands and a historic lack of investment in our water system, the Bay Area faces major questions about its water future. The Water Committee, Co-Chaired by Montezuma Wetlands Managing Partner Jim Levine and Suffolk Construction Company West Coast President Andrew Ball, is uniting the region’s diverse water stakeholders around these issues, working to prioritize critical investments and educating policy makers in Sacramento and Washington on the region’s needs. Ball is also leading the Council’s effort to generate support for a regional ballot initiative in 2016 that would raise $500 million from a parcel tax to fortify the region’s defenses against extreme storms and sea-level rise. To engage in our Water Supply and Security work, contact Policy Director Adrian Covert.

Workforce of the Future. The Bay Area’s fast-changing, high-value innovation economy requires highly skilled graduates for today’s in-demand jobs. Under the leadership of Co-Chairs Teresa Briggs of Deloitte and Glenn Shannon of Shorenstein Properties, the Council’s Workforce of the Future Committee is building stronger connections between the region’s employers and the universities and colleges that are educating the region’s future workforce. To engage in our Workforce of the Future work, contact Senior Vice President Linda Bidrossian.



Council Chair Michael Covarrubias called for a moment of silence at yesterday’s (Dec. 3) Board of Directors meeting to honor beloved Bay Area business and philanthropic titan Doug Shorenstein, who passed away Nov. 25 after a long battle with cancer. Shorenstein was Chairman and CEO of Shorenstein Properties, a real estate development company founded by his late father Walter Shorenstein. He previously served on the Council’s Board of Directors and was a 2011 inductee into the Council’s Bay Area Business Hall of Fame – Walter was a member of the 1998 Hall of Fame. After taking over the company in 1995, Shorenstein transformed it from a local developer to one of the largest and most-respected real estate development and management companies in the nation. He will be sorely missed.

Read about Doug Shorenstein’s life in the San Francisco Chronicle>>

Watch the Hall of Fame video of honoring Doug Shorenstein>>



SFO and United Airlines recently unveiled the newly-renovated Terminal 3 East Concourse, featuring a dramatic 53,000 square foot expansion — designed in part by Council member Gensler — that creates additional circulation space, new concessions, and enhanced amenities for airport guests. The $253 million renovation features eight new retail and dining outlets, including small businesses based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Free Wi-Fi, 230 power outlets, and 200 USB outlets will allow guests to stay connected and productive. Four new art installations, provided through the San Francisco Arts Commission, along with lounge-style seating areas, transform the space into a relaxing, inspiring environment. Guest restrooms even feature private changing rooms, an unexpected perk.

“Terminal 3 East is the latest expression of our vision for the guest experience at SFO,” said Airport Director John L. Martin. “This inviting, relaxing space features a fresh take on what we aim to deliver in all of our facilities – thoughtful passenger amenities, concessions representing the San Francisco Bay Area, inspiring public artwork, and environmentally-sustainable design.”

The Terminal 3 project is just of many that Martin, who this week announced he will be retiring in the summer of 2016, has spearheaded during his tenure to transform SFO into one of the world’s premier international airports. We’ll profile his many accomplishments in a coming Flash.

“The latest updates at San Francisco create a truly premium experience for our customers,” said Sandra Pineau-Boddison, United’s senior vice president of customers. “With the area’s modern design and amenities, San Francisco, the nation’s top trans-Pacific gateway, will continue to offer the traveler-friendly environment our customers expect at one of the country’s most prominent airports.”


Member Spotlight: Cargill

Longtime BAC member Cargill has earned a spot on Fortune’s first ‘Change the World’ list, which recognizes the top 51 companies that have made a sizable impact on major global social or environmental problems as part of their competitive strategy. Four criteria were taken into consideration: business innovation, measurable impact at scale on an important social challenge, the contribution of shared value activities to the company’s profitability and competitive advantage and the significance of the shared value effort to the overall business.

Cargill, headquartered near Minneapolis, was nominated for its pioneering efforts to curb malnutrition in India by fortifying its edible oils with vitamins A and D. India is home to 194 million malnourished people of which 40 percent are children. Cargill’s decision to fortify its edible oils in 2008 is largely seen by the industry as the catalyst for the oil fortification trend in India. Siraj Chaudhry, CEO of Cargill Foods India said: “We are constantly looking at innovating our products, solutions and services to better meet the needs of our customers. Back in 2008, we saw the potential of fortifying our edible oils to bring a better product to the market and help nourish the millions of people suffering from malnutrition with the vitamins they desperately needed. Cargill, which celebrated its 150th anniversary this year, has 153,000 employees in 67 countries. In the Bay Area, Cargill produces sea salt for food, agriculture, and industry markets in the Western states. Learn more about Cargill>>


Irish President Higgins Joins Council in Celebrating Benioff, Feeney

Salesforce Chairman and CEO Marc Benioff and Duty Free Shoppers Group Founder Chuck Feeney were the guests of honor at the Bay Area Council’s 70th Anniversary Annual Dinner and 2015 Bay Area Business Hall of Fame gathering on Wednesday (Oct. 28) at The Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco. President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins attended and delivered stirring remarks celebrating both Benioff and Feeney for their heroic philanthropic work and immense business accomplishments. Feeney is venerated in Ireland for his significant role in the peace process and his vast contributions to building the country’s higher education system.

President Higgins congratulated the Council on its 70th anniversary, praised the Council for its “generous spirit of community,” and remarked on the unique mission of the Council in convening business and civic leaders to improve the region’s quality of life. The President and Benioff both spoke passionately about the importance of the business community working to solve our social problems. To hear their full remarks, visit the links below.

Watch Salesforce Chairman and CEO Marc Benioff Hall of Fame induction>>

Watch DFS Founder Chuck Feeney Hall of Fame induction>>

Watch President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins Annual Dinner remarks>>

Transcript of President Higgins’ remarks>>

Annual Dinner and Business Hall of Fame photos>>

The 800 CEOs and other top business and civic leaders in attendance, including state Controller Betty Yee and University of California President Janet Napolitano, were greeted with a warm welcome from former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown and a video message from U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein. Later, Virgin America CEO David Cush ended his two-year term as Council Chair by handing the gavel to TMG Partners Chairman and CEO Michael Covarrubias. Council President and CEO Jim Wunderman praised Cush for his leadership, and Covarrubias in taking the reins set a strong tone of action in dealing with the Bay Area’s growing crisis in housing and transportation, among other issues.

Hall of Fame Chair Gary Rogers presided over an inspiring and moving ceremony to induct Benioff and Feeney into the 2015 Hall of Fame class. UCSF Chancellor Sam Hawgood introduced Benioff while QB3 Director and 2011 Hall of Fame inductee Regis Kelly introduced Feeney. Our thanks to all our event sponsors, including Premier Sponsors Kaiser Permanente and Salesforce; Diamond Sponsors AT&T, Bank of America, PG&E, TMG Partners, Union Bank and Virgin America; and Platinum Sponsors Dignity Health, Genentech, General Atlantic, Hanson Bridgett, Lennar Urban, Sutter Health, UCSF, UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals, UPS and Wells Fargo.

It’s not too early to start thinking about the 2016 Annual Dinner and Bay Area Business Hall of Fame. To become Presenting Sponsor, contact Vice President Rufus Jeffris.