Bay Area Council Blog: Science and Innovation Archive

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Regional Coalition Submits Bid for Amazon HQ2

Leveraging a highly skilled and educated talent pool, a renowned innovation culture unmatched in the world and a slew of large transit-rich development sites located near top universities and airports, a Bay Area Council-led coalition of cities including Concord, Fremont, Oakland, Richmond and San Francisco today (Oct. 19) submitted a proposal to bring Amazon’s second corporate headquarters to the Bay Area. The Bay Area Council worked with the cities and other partners to coordinate the development of the bid.

“The Bay Area offers the whole package and is a natural and perfect fit for an innovation leader like Amazon,” said Jim Wunderman, President and CEO of the Bay Area Council. “We are the world’s innovation capitol. We offer top talent, top universities and large development sites connected by a rich network of mass transit and other transportation systems. Our competitive advantages are unparalleled, including our strong connections to the huge Asia-Pacific region.”

The coalition of cities working with the Bay Area Council has identified numerous sites which together offer Amazon an unmatched level of flexibility to create a world-class headquarters that embraces new models of dispersed but highly connected workplaces.

Read the Bay Area Amazon HQ2 proposal>>

The proposal includes more than 60 million square feet of high-quality office and research and development space, far exceeding Amazon’s requirement for up to 8 million square feet needed to house 50,000 workers. All of the sites provide seamless connections to robust transportation and mass transit networks, including BART and a fast-growing ferry system, and easy access to both regional and international airports.

Among the sites featured in the proposal are the Concord Naval Weapons Station in Concord, Coliseum City and numerous downtown locations in Oakland, the Warm Springs Innovation District in Fremont, SF Shipyard in San Francisco and the Richmond Field Station and Hilltop Mall in Richmond. All the cities are served by BART, which is undergoing a massive upgrade to expand its capacity and speed in the coming years, as well as by nearby international and regional airports and freeways. The proposal includes a combined 45,000 units of new housing that cities envision being built in the coming years.

“We are extremely confident that steps we are taking now as a region to improve our housing and transportation infrastructure will address Amazon’s needs for its workforce and future growth,” Wunderman said. “Our housing production has increased three fold in just the past six years and numerous residential development sites throughout the region envision adding tens of thousands of more units in the next five to 10 years.”

Amazon already knows the value of being located in the Bay Area, with current operations occupying more than 3 million square feet around the region.

A major draw for tech employers like Amazon is the access to some of the world’s best talent. Not only does the Bay Area produce its own highly educated and highly skilled workforce from top tier universities and colleges like UC Berkeley, Stanford, UC Davis, UC San Francisco, California State University East Bay and St. Marys attracts the best and brightest workers from around the globe. More than 75 percent of the Bay Area population holds a bachelor’s degree or higher, with more than 40 percent of those coming from science and engineering-related fields.

The proposal also outlines a range of state and local tax credits and other incentives along with commitments to streamline permitting and environmental review and work with Amazon on various workforce training and similar programs.

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TAKING NEW APPROACHES TO ADDRESSING REGION’S WORKFORCE NEEDS

Joined by leaders from industry, academia and philanthropy, the Bay Area Council’s Workforce of the Future Committee on Monday (Oct. 2) explored new approaches to addressing the burgeoning skills and talent gaps affecting employers’ bottom lines and workers’ livelihoods. AT&T California President and Council Executive Committee member Ken McNeely joined Mitchell Stevens, Director of Stanford University’s Center for Advanced Research through Online Learning, Don Howard, President and CEO of the Irvine Foundation, and Felix Ortiz, Founder, Chairman and CEO of Viridis Learning, for a discussion on the roles of employers, educators and job seekers in keeping up with our changing economy. The discussion also emphasized the need for interconnectedness and alignment between these entities, expanded career pathways and work-based learning opportunities, and funding of innovative efforts. Our thanks to Council member Salesforce for hosting the event.

Those in the room agreed that our region urgently needs to collaboratively implement solutions, such as industry-led partnerships with school districts, community colleges, and four-year universities, in order to see long-lasting outcomes and systems change. With the guidance of Bay Area Council members and thought leaders like those that participated in Monday’s meeting, the Workforce of the Future Committee is pursuing efforts like the Occupational Councils and the Bay Area Young Men of Color Employment Partnership to support systems change by aligning hiring needs with educational offerings, and addressing barriers to entry faced by specific historically underrepresented populations, respectively. To participate in the Workforce of the Future Committee, please contact Senior Vice President Linda Bidrossian.

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COUNCIL HEADLINES CHINA’S MAJOR INNOVATION WEEK PRESIDED OVER BY PREMIER LI KEQIANG

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.

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COUNCIL WELCOMES BEIJING MAYOR, SIGNS MOU EXPANDING ECONOMIC COOPERATION

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.

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TAKING OFF: COUNCIL LOOKS TO STRENGTHEN TALENT PIPELINE IN THE AVIATION INDUSTRY

Strengthening talent pipelines from high schools into technical training programs and improving the rate of community college graduates taking certification tests were identified on Monday (9/18) at the second Occupational Council for Aviation Maintenance Technicians (AMTs) as the two most promising solutions for the hiring strain airlines are facing. Airlines in the Bay Area region are facing extremely high levels of attrition due to retirement, and their needs for technical talent are increasing dramatically. Cumulatively, these employers are seeking to fill hundreds of jobs in the region before the end of 2017.  Convening Bay Area Council employer members, including United Airlines and Alaska Airlines, and educators to talk through the often longstanding hurdles preventing companies from hiring local, qualified, and diverse talent has allowed the Workforce of the Future Committee to pinpoint opportunities for improvement, such as community education events that involve high schoolers, their parents, and student career counselors in the case of AMTs. To learn more about how you can engage with the Workforce of the Future Committee on addressing the region’s pressing workforce gaps, contact Senior Vice President of Policy Linda Bidrossian.

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MAKING THE BAY RESILIENT BY DESIGN

Against the backdrop of record-breaking flooding in Houston and the Caribbean, the Resilient by Design Bay Area Challenge on Sunday (Sept. 10) announced 10 winning design teams to propose innovative resiliency projects along the San Francisco Bay shoreline. The winning teams were selected by an independent jury from a pool of over 50 applicants, and include several Bay Area Council member companies, including AECOM, Arup, Gensler, and Andy Ball. The winning teams are now spending the next few weeks taking whirlwind tours of the entire Bay shoreline, meeting with local officials and community groups along the way to get a better understanding of the Bay’s diverse needs, culminating in the unveiling of 10 project proposals in May 2018.

The Rockefeller Foundation selected the Bay Area to host the first Resilient by Design challenge following the region’s approval of Measure AA, the June 2016 parcel tax measure that raises $500 million over the next 20 years for wetland restoration and flood protection improvements along the San Francisco Bay shoreline. The Bay Area Council played a leading role in the Measure AA campaign, and serves on the Executive Board of Resilient by Design. To learn more about the Council’s resiliency work, or about the Resilient by Design challenge, please contact Vice President Adrian Covert.

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MAJOR NEW BAY AREA INNOVATION CENTER IN CHINA ANNOUNCED

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.

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KEY CHINA PARTNER HONORED AS RISING INNOVATION STAR

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.

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MEMBER SPOTLIGHT: BACK TO SCHOOL AT ORACLE

If you visit Oracle headquarters in Redwood Shores, you’ll see a new building under construction at the north end of campus. In early 2018, Design Tech High School (d.tech) will move into this facility — its purpose-built home — and become the first public high school in the U.S. to be located on a tech company’s campus, while remaining fully autonomous. d.tech—a free public charter school— has occupied temporary spaces in existing education facilities since it was founded in 2014. In October 2015, Oracle CEO Safra Catz announced plans to construct the school a permanent home at the company’s headquarters. The new school facility was designed to meet the specialized needs of the school’s forward-thinking education model, which emphasizes extreme personalization and putting knowledge into action. The 64,000-square-foot, two-story building will also enable the school to grow to full capacity (550 students). The building is targeting LEED for Schools Gold with an efficient building form/envelope, a healthy interior environment, and low-impact landscaping. Visit Oracle’s d-tech to learn more.

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COUNCIL URGES CAUTION ON NEW PROPOSAL TO LIMIT IMMIGRATION

The Bay Area Council issued the following statement responding to legislation introduced Wednesday (Aug. 2) by President Trump and Sens. Tom Cotton and David Perdue that proposes to dramatically lower legal immigration levels.

“Immigrants are and have been a powerful source of ideas, innovation, entrepreneurship and job creation helping drive the Bay Area’s world-leading knowledge-based economy,” said Jim Wunderman, President and CEO of the Bay Area Council. “Our broken federal immigration system has long needed comprehensive reform, which in addition to other objectives must ensure that newcomers are making positive and productive contributions to our economy and our communities and not putting America workers at a disadvantage. It will be important that any reform legislation recognize the important role immigrants play in growing our economy, creating jobs and bolstering our global competitiveness.

“We must be extremely careful not to impose limits that hurt our ability to attract foreign workers to help employers meet a wide range of workforce needs, including high-skilled positions and lower-skilled jobs in such industries as agriculture and construction. High-skilled immigration is a bedrock of the Bay Area’s economy and we must keep the door open to people from around the world who are prepared to contribute. While there is room for reform – H-1B visas are an example – any process should be built on a considered, transparent process and bipartisan agreement.”

To engage in our federal policy work, please contact Senior Advisor George Broder.