Bay Area Council Blog: Science and Innovation Archive

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Sen. Monning Addresses Water Committee on Clean Water Fund

It’s estimated that as many as one million Californians (10 times the population of Flint, Michigan) lack access to safe, clean drinking water, mostly in rural, economically disadvantaged areas. This troubling statistic undergirded the Bay Area Council Water Committee’s conversation with Senator Bill Monning (D-Carmel) hosted by member company Cargill on Tuesday (July 25). Senator Monning’s bill, SB 623, would create a new clean drinking water fund capitalized through a combination of new fertilizer taxes and fees on water utility bills. The Council took the issue under advisement until the precise bill language becomes available. The Committee also received a briefing from the Department of Water Resources’ Erin Mellon on the race against time to repair the Oroville Dam Spillway, which was destroyed during last years’ record rainfall. To engage with the Council’s Water Committee, please contact Vice President of Public Policy Adrian Covert.

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Advancing U.S.-China Cooperation on Financial Services Innovation

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.

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Innovation Bridge: Technology, Startups, and Europe’s Connection to Silicon Valley

On July 25 the Economic Institute released its newest report—Innovation Bridge: Technology, Startups, and Europe’s Connection to Silicon Valley, at the Runway accelerator in San Francisco. The report, which was supported by the European Union and other international and Bay Area partners, looks at the dynamic process that every year brings hundreds of European startup and early stage companies to the Bay Area, many of which stay and grow in the region. It particularly assesses the environment for starting and growing young technology companies in Europe and the region Bay Area.  The conclusions document the unique role that the region plays as the world’s leading innovation and entrepreneurial platform. More than two-hundred participants came to listen to the report’s findings and to engage with a distinguished panel of investors, technologists, innovation directors, and leaders in the startup community, who provided their own perspectives. The report is available on the Economic Institute’s website www.bayareaeconomy.org.

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Historic Caltrain Electrification Groundbreaking

Following years of hard work and advocacy, the Bay Area Council today joined Governor Jerry Brown, Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, Congresswoman Anna Eshoo, Congresswoman Jackie Speier and other key stakeholders at the Millbrae Caltrain Station for the historic groundbreaking ceremony of the Caltrain Electrification Project.

“It’s ironic that the region that invents much of the future has struggled with an overcrowded, diesel-powered, 153-year-old rail line running right through its heart – but today that changes. Silicon Valley will soon have a modern, fast and clean rail system that according to our 2012 study, will deliver 9,600 construction and related jobs and generate more than $2 billion in economic activity across America. Our region is not alone dealing with outdated infrastructure and we hope Congress can unite around a large-scale national improvement program this year, making Caltrain Electrification the start of a legacy of new building.”

The Council has long advocated for an electrified Caltrain and helped assemble the original package of federal, state and regional funding for the project. The final push across the finish line came in May when U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao approved a final $647 million grant that had been promised to help pay for the project. Special thanks goes to Senator Dianne Feinstein who worked very hard behind the scenes to achieve this momentous goal.

To engage in the Council’s transportation policy work, please contact Senior Vice President of Policy Michael Cunningham.

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Major Victory for California’s Clean Energy Future

This week marked a major victory for Governor Jerry Brown and California’s clean energy future with the legislature’s bipartisan passage of a landmark package – AB 617 by Assemblymembers Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens), Eduardo Garcia (D-Coachella) and Miguel Santiago (D-Los Angeles) and AB 398 by Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia (D-Coachella) – to combat air pollution in neighborhoods and extend California’s signature cap-and-trade program to meet ambitious climate change goals. The Bay Area Council was part of a broad and diverse coalition in support of the legislation.

The Council has long supported California’s global leadership on a sustainable clean energy future. “As the first business group to support AB32 and cap-and-trade, the Bay Area Council believes the program has worked exceptionally well,” said Bay Area Council President and CEO Jim Wunderman. “California has shown that it’s possible to reduce carbon, improve local air quality, spur new clean energy industries and jobs, and have an economy that’s the envy of the nation. The extension of cap-and-trade until 2030 will keep California on track for its climate goals and its clean energy leadership.”

To engage in the Council’s energy policy work, please contact Senior Vice President of Policy Michael Cunningham.

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Innovation Bridge: Technology, Startups, and Europe’s Connection to Silicon Valley

The Bay Area Council Economic Institute, EIT Digital, and the Association of European Chambers of Commerce and Business Associations invite you to the release of the Economic Institute’s new report, Innovation Bridge: Technology, Startups, and Europe’s Connection to Silicon Valley. The event will be held next Tuesday, July 25 from 5-8pm at Runway in San Francisco.

Europe is a major economic presence in the Bay Area, through trade, investment, and people. More than any other area of the world, it enjoys strong ties to the region through technology and innovation, and in particular through startups. The report, developed with support from the European Union and regional and international partners, analyzes the dynamic process that each year draws hundreds of European startups and early stage companies to the Bay Area. The event will examine what the startup map of Europe looks like, the environment in Europe for starting and growing technology companies, and the push and pull factors that lead so many startup companies to the Bay Area. Click here to see the full agenda and register>>

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Statement: Caltrain Electrification Groundbreaking

MILLBRAE, CA— Bay Area Council President and CEO Jim Wunderman today joined Governor Jerry Brown, Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, Congresswoman Anna Eshoo, Congresswoman Jackie Speier and other key stakeholders at the Millbrae Caltrain Station for the official groundbreaking ceremony of the Caltrain Electrification Project.  The Bay Area Council released the following statement attributable to Jim Wunderman.
“It’s ironic that the region that invents much of the future has struggled with an overcrowded, diesel-powered, 153-year-old rail line running right through its heart – but today that changes. Silicon Valley will soon have a modern, fast and clean rail system that according to our 2012 study, will deliver 9,600 construction and related jobs and generate more than $2 billion in economic activity across America. Our region is not alone dealing with outdated infrastructure and we hope Congress can unite around a large-scale national improvement program this year, making Caltrain Electrification the start of a legacy of new building.”
The Council has long advocated for an electrified Caltrain and helped assemble the original package of federal, state and regional funding for the project. The final push across the finish line came in May when U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao approved a final $647 million grant that had been promised to help pay for the project.
Special thanks goes to Senator Dianne Feinstein who worked very hard behind the scenes to achieve this momentous goal.

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Next Steps for Businesses in the California-China Clean Energy Partnership

This week, the Council reunited participants of Governor Jerry Brown’s recent Clean Energy delegation to Beijing, China to discuss next steps. California Air Resources Board Chair Mary Nichols recounted her experiences in China and, building on the momentum of four California-China agreements signed during the trip, as well as described California’s climate change progress through Council-supported cap-and-trade AB 398 and air contaminant-reducing AB 617. Nichols also highlighted the recently announced Climate Action Summit, which will be held in San Francisco in September 2018.

Discussing opportunities for technology transfers, private-public-partnerships, and investment in China in the backdrop of IP risks, Ken Alston (California Clean Energy Fund) and Arthur Haubenstock (8minutenergy Renewables) conclusively indicated latent opportunities for business collaborations within the clean energy sphere.

The event concluded with a presentation from Special Advisor to the Governor, Fan Dai, who spoke to the unique California-China relationship. Her remarks shared efforts underway to create a database that identifies the Chinese technology-gaps California businesses can fill, and opportunities regarding China’s One Belt One Road initiative. Identifying and pushing for business opportunities for California is a primary focus for the Council, which provides a range of services to guide businesses and investors looking to expand in the Bay Area and abroad. To lean how the Council can help businesses find opportunities in China, please contact Chief of Global Business Development Del Christensen.

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International Competition for Bay Resilience off to Huge Start

Last month, the Bay Area Council joined with Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, San Mateo County Supervisor Dave Pine and other Bay Area leaders to announce the launch of an exciting design competition to solicit innovative solutions to address the effects of sea level rise, severe storms, flooding and earthquakes in communities around the San Francisco Bay. In response, the Resilient by Design/Bay Area Challenge has received an amazing 51 applications from local, national and international teams competing to become one of ten finalists chosen to design innovative projects aimed at improving the health and resilience of Bay Area communities. The final teams will be chosen in the coming weeks, with the designs themselves to be unveiled May 2018. Resilient by Design is an initiative of the Rockefeller Foundation, and a spinoff of the successful Rebuild by Design efforts following Hurricane Sandy. The goal is to help communities become resilient before a natural disaster strikes, rather than after. Rockefeller considered many other regions to award to the Resilient by Design Competition, but chose the Bay Area following the 2016 passage of Measure AA, a Bay Area Council-supported ballot measure that creates $500 million over the next 20 years for wetland restoration and bay flood protection projects. To learn more about Resilient by Design, please contact Bay Area Council Vice President of Policy, and Resilient by Design Executive Board member, Adrian Covert

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Workforce Opportunities Soar at United

In a recent tour of United Airlines, the Bay Area Council Workforce of the Future team learned about the ample workforce career pathways offered in aviation. United operates its largest North America maintenance facility here in the Bay Area at San Francisco International Airport. The tour provided an inside look at the extremely complicated planes, parts, machines, and machines that maintain the machines, and highlighted the huge need for technicians and opportunities for entry-level positions that are ladders to technical jobs. There are a variety of jobs from aircraft maintenance to store keeper, who handle all the parts for the aircraft. The technical jobs are growing in demand due to growth in the industry and the aging of the current workforce. For example, the technician occupation only requires an accreditation through a Federal Aviation Administration program that is offered at numerous community colleges. These positions can pay up to $100,000 a year!

There also are a number of career pathways from entry level positions that workers can pursue and earn their technician certificate while working. The huge need for middle skill aviation technicians is why the Bay Area Council will be launching a new occupational council focused on this in-demand industry. On July 6, the Council kicked off a meeting with Pamela Gutman, Deputy Sector Navigator for Bay Area community colleges, and her team of aviation experts to prep for the occupational council with employers. Working with United, as well as our other aviation and logistics members, the Council will work to close the gaps and help our members meet their talent needs. To engage in the Workforce of the Future Committee, please contact Senior Vice President Public Policy, Linda Bidrossian.