Bay Area Council Blog

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CLEAN SWEEP FOR BAY AREA COUNCIL IN NOV. 4 ELECTION

Voters may not have turned out in force on Nov. 4, but those that did overwhelmingly agreed with the Bay Area Council on a handful of state and local ballot measures with important implications for sustaining economic growth.

On statewide measures that the Council endorsed, voters approved Prop 1 by almost 67 percent and Prop 2 by 69 percent. The former will generate $7.12 billion to invest in expanding water storage and ramping up conservation measures in the face of historic drought. The latter creates a “rainy day” fund to help the state avoid its usual boom and bust budgeting. Passage of Prop 2 brought a favorable reaction from investment rating services, which could help lower the state’s future borrowing costs.

Voters also soundly rejected Props 45 and 46, two statewide measures the Council opposed for the increased cost and regulatory burdens they would impose on the healthcare system and the lack of any meaningful measures to improve healthcare quality. Senior Advisor Micah Weinberg played an active role in advocating against these misguided initiatives, helping secure editorial endorsements against them by most of the state’s major daily newspapers and appearing in numerous public forums.

Among local measures the Council endorsed, voters approved Measure BB in Alameda County and Measure A in San Francisco. Measure BB will invest $7.8 billion over the next 30 years to expand public transit, repair roads and extend BART to Livermore. A study released in July by the Bay Area Council Economic Institute found that the Measure BB spending plan would generate the equivalent of 150,000 jobs and $20 billion of economic activity. Measure A in San Francisco will provide $500 million to improve public transportation and roads. Both measures come as the Bay Area confronts increasing traffic drag it has on economic growth.

The Council watched with great interest state and federal legislative races and, like many observers, was looking ahead to what the outcomes might mean for the Bay Area and our economy. In California, inroads by the GOP helped eliminate the chance of Democrats maintaining super majorities in both the Assembly and Senate.

On the national front, an analysis by Bay Area Council member Dentons suggested that the GOP-controlled Congress could find agreement with President Obama on a variety of tech-related issues, including patent reform and cybersecurity, and on investment in job-creating transportation infrastructure. Council President Jim Wunderman today (Nov. 7) led a post-election discussion with Dentons political experts Darry Sragow, John Russell and Marc Burgat and KPIX political reporter Melissa Griffin Caen.

To engage in the Council’s state government relations work, contact Policy Manager Cornelious Burke. And to engage in our federal policy work, contact Senior Advisor George Broder.

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800 Celebrate Giants Win, Business Leadership at 2014 Annual Dinner

About 800 of our closest friends gathered Wednesday (Oct. 29) for the Bay Area Council’s 69th Annual Dinner and Business Hall of Fame at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco, where we honored Intuit Founder Scott Cook and former Kaiser Permanente Chairman and CEO George Halvorson.

Oh yeah, and we turned the whole event into a big viewing party to watch the San Francisco Giants defeat the Kansas City Royals in a rollicking Game 7 that featured a sublime and historic performance by pitcher and World Series MVP Madison Bumgarner.

Thank you to Presenting Sponsor Kaiser Permanente and CEO Bernard J. Tyson for their continuing support of the Bay Area Council. Thank you also to San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and former Mayor Willie Brown for dropping by to add their congratulations to our two honorees.

See a photo gallery of the festivities.

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BAY AREA COUNCIL LAUNCHES CALTRAIN COMMUTER COALITION

As Caltrain marked the 10th anniversary of its Baby Bullet service on Monday (Oct. 27), Bay Area Council President & CEO Jim Wunderman joined the festivities and announced the formation of a new advocacy coalition that will work to support efforts to expand Caltrain capacity and service.  While the Baby Bullet has helped to fuel the astounding economic growth along the Highway 101 over the past decade, Caltrain now faces unprecedented ridership and capacity constraints.  Caltrain is working to address these challenges through short-term plans to operate longer diesel trains and long-term plans to operate high performance electric trains, but looming financial and political challenges still need to be overcome. The Bay Area Council was instrumental in helping secure funding to modernize and electrify the Caltrain system.

The Caltrain Commuter Coalition (C3) – which includes participation from member companies such as Google, Oracle, LinkedIn, San Francisco 49ers, Stanford University and others – will collectively advocate for Caltrain modernization, capacity enhancement, and other improvements that will bolster job creation and continue to drive economic growth in the region.  Other groups supporting C3 include San Mateo County Economic Development Association (SAMCEDA), San Francisco Planning PUR  and Silicon Valley Leadership Group. For more information about the Council’s transportation work, contact Vice President Michael Cunningham.

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BUSINESS-EDUCATION PARTNERSHIPS KEY TO STEM SUCCESS

Speaking passionately about the importance of business-education partnerships, Bay Area Council President and CEO Jim Wunderman addressed a capacity crowd at the STEM Summit in Oakland on Thursday (Oct. 23). The summit opened the 4th Annual Bay Area Science Festival, one of the largest STEM events in the nation. Organized by Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, the STEM Summit covered business partnerships, the need for broadband infrastructure improvements, career pathways, and STEM educator perspectives.

Wunderman joined other top business leaders, including Terry Hermiston, Vice President of Biologics Research for Council member Bayer, Sunne Wright McPeak, President and CEO of California Emerging Technology Fund, Rich Robbins, CEO of Wareham Development, and Jim Vanides, Global Education Program Manager for Hewlett-Packard. The group emphasized the importance of inspiring and educating Bay Area students, especially girls and minorities, for the STEM jobs that are located right in this region. There was much agreement on the importance of teacher professional development in STEM subjects and the need for technology integration into all subjects and all grade levels. To engage in the Council’s STEM policy work, contact Vice President Linda Galliher.

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Council’s “Talk Read Sing” Initiative Takes Center Stage at Saleforce’s Dreamforce

The Talking is Teaching: Talk Read Sing early childhood education campaign that the Bay Area Council developed in partnership with Too Small to Fail, a joint initiative of The Clinton Foundation and Next Generation, got a big boost this week (Oct. 14) at the Salesforce Dreamforce conference in San Francisco. Council President and CEO Jim Wunderman joined Sec. Hillary Clinton, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, Next Generation Co-Founder James Steyer and dozens of volunteers to stuff Talk Read Sing tote bags that will be distributed to thousands of Oakland families. Rosemary Turner, Northern California District President of UPS, also participated, along with Bertram Lubin, CEO of UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland, and Dr. Elio Gizzi, East Bay Chief of General Pediatrics at Kaiser Permanente. UPS generously provided the logistical support needed to store and deliver the tote bags and the books, DVDs and other goodies that went in them. The hospitals are serving as major centers of distribution.

The initiative is focused on arming parents and other caregivers with simple tools they can use in their daily lives to close the word gap by talking, reading and singing to very young children.  Children in low-income families hear up to 30 million fewer words by age four than those in higher-income families. This lack of hearing and learning words means these children enter school with smaller vocabularies and far more likely to fall behind; this achievement gap often persists through school and has lifelong implications for success, health and well-being.

Meanwhile, on the opposite coast Council Vice President Matt Regan traveled to the White House on Wednesday (Oct. 15) for a full-day workshop with top business, academic, nonprofit and government leaders to discuss cutting-edge research findings on effective solutions and strategies designed to bridge the early language gap. And on Monday (Oct. 20), Council CEO Wunderman will participate in a White House Town Hall in San Francisco on early education with U.S. Education Sec. Arne Duncan, Early Edge California President Deborah Kong and former state Senate President Darrell Steinberg. To engage in the Council’s early childhood education work, please contact Vice President Matt Regan.

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TALKINg BUSINESS, ECONOMIC PRIORITIES WITH ASSEMBLYMEMBER SUSAN BONILLA

Elevating business and economic priorities in the state Legislature was among the topics the Bay Area Council’s Government Relations Committee discussed this week (Oct. 13) with guest speaker state Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla (D-Concord), who chairs the Assembly Business, Professions and Consumer Protection Committee and is a member of the Health Committee and the Utilities and Commerce Committee.

Assemblymember Bonilla talked about several key bills that were signed into law this year, including the film and TV tax credit which the Council supported, the statewide ban on plastic bags, and new regulations on nuisance massage parlors. She also discussed the effort to attract the Tesla gigafactory and shared insights on the upcoming 2015 legislative session. Council members offered their input on issues they think the Legislature should prioritize in 2015, including funding for affordable housing, regulatory relief and California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) reform.

Thank you to Assemblywoman Bonilla for joining us and to Government Relations Committee Co-Chairs Andrew Giacomini, Managing Partner of Hanson Bridgett, and Peter Brightbill, Wells Fargo Bank State Government Relations Director, for leading the discussion. To engage in our Government Relations Committee, please contact Policy Manager Cornelious Burke.

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Protecting Your BUSINESS from CYBER CRIME

Cyber crime can affect any business in any industry. Whether criminals target financial information, customer information, intellectual property or other forms of industrial espionage, no industry is immune. Against that backdrop, the Bay Area Council this week (Oct. 16) convened its third annual Cybersecurity Town Hall in partnership with the National Cyber Security Alliance.

Chertoff Group Director Lauren Webster led a discussion with three leading executives from the cybersecurity industry: Russ Dietz from GE Research, Fengmin Gong from Cyphort and Chris Finan from Manifold. The panel focused on how businesses should talk to technology partners and vendors, as well as human factors in cybersecurity and issues that can arise from supply chain partners. The speakers reinforced that cybersecurity is never static and that a company can never consider its commitment to securing its information and systems to be completed. In a second panel, DLA Piper Partner David Lisi, talked with Mohan Atreya, Senior Director of Product Management for Intel Security, and Cheyenne Goodman, Corporate Account Manager of FireEye, about how businesses can prepare to address cyber threats, including through employee awareness and education and developing internal systems and processes.

Thank you to Bruce Parelskin Director of Intel Security, for hosting the summit and Michael Kaiser, Executive Director of the National Cyber Security Alliance. Thank you also to partners sfciti, San Mateo County Economic Development Association, and the chambers of commerce of Palo Alto, San Jose/Silicon Valley, Fremont and Santa Clara Chamber and National Venture Capital Association. To engage in our cybersecurity work, contact Senior Advisor Matt Gardner.

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NEW REPORT: TRI-VALLEY A RISING BAY AREA TECH/INNOVATION POWERHOUSE

The Tri-Valley is fast emerging as a new technology and innovation powerhouse for the Bay Area, according to a report released Thursday (Oct. 10) by the Bay Area Council Economic Institute that finds sustaining the economic activity between companies and labs in the Tri-Valley and those in the rest of the Bay Area will hinge to a large degree on improving and expanding its transportation network. The report assesses how the Tri-Valley’s current transportation system is barely keeping pace with local and regional economic activity and how funding for new and improved transportation infrastructure will be critical to maximizing and supporting future economic growth, livability, and competitiveness for the Bay Area as a whole.

Since 1994, Tri-Valley technology jobs have surged by 86 percent, outpacing the rate of growth for all jobs in an area that is defined by the Livermore, San Ramon and Amador valleys and the cities of Pleasanton, Livermore, Dublin, San Ramon and Danville. Even during the recession from 2008 to 2011, when overall employment dropped 4 percent, technology-related jobs increased 51 percent. The 40,000 jobs that the Tri-Valley added across all sectors from 2000 to 2012 represented a 21 percent increase, about seven times the rate for the Bay Area overall.

The Tri-Valley’s success, however, hasn’t come without pain. Growing employment within the Tri-Valley and an increasingly mobile workforce that commutes to Silicon Valley, San Francisco and other parts of Alameda County have put a tremendous strain on the area’s transportation network, according to the report. The Tri-Valley also serves as a major corridor for Bay Area ports, linking with distribution centers in the Central Valley, which adds to the gridlock. The Interstate 580 corridor is among the most congested in the Bay Area. Daily delays are up by 26 percent since 2011. The report makes clear that traffic congestion will be among the biggest constraints to sustaining the Tri-Valley’s vital contribution to the Bay Area economy, particularly with employment projected to increase 30 percent by 2040 and population expected to grow 35 percent.

Read the full report — Tri-Valley Rising: Its Vital Role in the Bay Area Economy.

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BAY AREA COUNCIL HOSTS FOUR ASEAN AMBASSADORS

When it comes to Bay Area trade and investment opportunities, China rightly gets much of the attention. But China isn’t the only player on the other side of the Pacific. That was the message from four U.S. Ambassadors who visited the Bay Area Council on Wednesday (Oct. 8) to talk with business leaders about the growing opportunities within the countries that make up the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Ambassador to Cambodia William Todd, Ambassador to Malaysia Joseph Yun, Ambassador to Indonesia Robert Blake and Ambassador to Singapore Kirk Wagar discussed the $2.4 trillion economy that the 10-nation ASEAN bloc represents and the 626 million consumers that reside there. They described the political and economic landscapes in the respective countries where they serve and said their embassies stand ready to assist companies looking to do business in Southeast Asia. The visit was organized by the US-ASEAN Business Council under the leadership of CEO Alexander Feldman, and was part of a larger national tour the Business Council led to promote trade and investment with ASEAN. To engage in the Bay Area Council’s trade and investment work, contact Global Initiatives Chief Del Christensen.

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BAY AREA LOSING OUT ON MILLIONS IN CAP AND TRADE FUNDING

The Bay Area is losing out on its fair share of $250 million in state cap and trade money to help disadvantaged communities combat serious environmental problems, under a skewed funding formula concocted by the California Environmental Protection Agency. The Bay Area Council is working to change the formula, and submitted a letter last week to CalEPA Secretary Matt Rodriguez requesting his agency review the criteria used to allocate the money. Under the cap and trade program, 25 percent of annual funding is designated to go to so-called disadvantaged communities that suffer from exposure to serious environmental problems, including polluted air, water and soil.

However, the CalEPA formula summarily excludes areas, including in cities such as Hercules, Richmond, parts of Oakland and East Palo Alto, that by any reasonable measure would meet the definition of disadvantaged. Under the formula, the Bay Area is set to receive a puny 3 percent of the cap and trade funding to benefit disadvantaged communities although a more equitable review suggests that figure should be closer to 11 percent. The Council is joining with local and regional government agencies in appealing to the CalEPA to make the funding formula more equitable and reflective of reality. To engage in the Council’s regulatory work, contact Vice President Matt Regan.