Bay Area Council Blog

TRS Dreamforce

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.



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.

Cyber Security Awareness 2014 200

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.



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.



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.



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.



Phase 1 of the massive Transbay Transit Center in San Francisco, which has been dubbed the “Grand Central Station of the West,” is on schedule for completion in fall 2017, project Executive Director Maria Ayerdi-Kaplan told the Bay Area Council’s Transportation Committee on Thursday (Oct. 2). Ayerdi-Kaplan and her team took the committee through a short history of the project, the many elements it includes and the array of funding sources that will pay for the estimated $4.5 billion multi-use center. Ayerdi-Kaplan briefly touched on the current dispute over one of the project’s key funding sources and concerns that it might jeopardize both the schedule and what gets built. She reiterated that the project remains on schedule and noted that it has weathered numerous hurdles over many years as it has moved from vision to planning to construction. You can learn more about the project at Transbay Transit Center.

The Committee, chaired by Arup Principal John Eddy, also heard from Heller Manus Architects President Jeff Heller about his vision for a second BART transbay tube.  With nearly 400,000 riders daily, BART ridership is outgrowing capacity and future growth is expected to increase peak direction passengers across the bay by 43 percent.  A second BART tube would vastly increase capacity and improve service reliability.  Heller demonstrated several potential areas where the second BART tube could be routed, including through Jack London Square and Alameda in East Bay, and near AT&T Park and Mission Bay on the San Francisco end. Read Heller’s OpEd in the San Francisco Chronicle on a second BART tube.

To engage in our transportation policy work, contact Vice President Michael Cunningham.



The Bay Area Council this week (Sept. 22, 2014)  beat back an effort by anti-business groups to shape critical regional transportation and housing planning guidelines to fit their narrow agenda, and to use federal tax dollars to create a tool clearly aimed at scapegoating the tech industry for the Bay Area’s housing shortage. The Council on Wednesday (Sept. 24) testified at the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) against proposed rules that would limit local control of transportation spending decisions by counties that fail to meet certain requirements put forth by a number of anti-business groups. The MTC voted unanimously against the move, agreeing that counties need flexibility in making decisions about local transportation investments.

The Council also succeeded in getting the MTC and Association of Bay Area Governments to rework a request for proposal (RFP) to create a “tool” for analyzing the impacts of job creation on housing availability and affordability. The initial proposal called for a tool that looked exclusively at the impact of tech sector jobs on housing. In a strongly worded letter signed by numerous business groups, the Council charged that the narrow scope of the tool would unfairly scapegoat and demonize the tech sector for the region’s long-term failure to create sufficient housing to meet growing demand. MTC and ABAG are now reworking the proposal to create a tool that looks more broadly at the how job growth overall impacts housing affordability and availability.

Both efforts come as preliminary work begins on the next version of Plan Bay Area, a sweeping regional blueprint for guiding housing and transportation decisions over the next several decades. There is much at stake for the business community. The Council is working to ensure that plan reflects the region’s economic needs. To engage in our regional planning work, contact Vice President Matt Regan.



The Bay Area Council is pleased to announce that tech industry veteran Kirsten Vernon has joined the organization as Chief of Membership and Development. Vernon comes to the Council from TechNet, a leading national public policy association whose members include many of the world’s top tech companies.

“We’re thrilled to have someone of Kirsten’s caliber and experience leading our membership team,” said Jim Wunderman, President and CEO of the Bay Area Council. “Kirsten’s passion for the Bay Area, deep knowledge of the technology and innovation industry and intense focus on engaging with all of our members make her an ideal fit to help grow our organization and increase our influence.”

Vernon served as TechNet’s vice president of membership since 2005, coordinating public policy and political efforts with members.  Prior to that, she was TechNet’s Republican political director. Vernon has a BA in Political Science and French from the University of Vermont. To learn about the benefits of becoming a Bay Area Council member, contact Kirsten Vernon.


Ambassador Stephens Says Time is Ripe for Growing Economic Ties with India

To help Bay Area Council members and regional business leaders gain first-hand insight into India, the Bay Area Council on Sept. 19, 2014 convened a high-level briefing with Ambassador Kathleen Stephens, U.S. Charge d’Affaire to India. Gathered over lunch at the Four Seasons Hotel in Palo Alto, top executives heard from Stephens about India’s changing dynamics, its ties to the Bay Area and new India Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s focus on attracting foreign investment, among other topics.

Changes in India have captured the world’s attention, both as a market and a place to invest. This process of transformation has been complex, with sometimes uneven results, but India is clearly poised to play a growing role on the global stage. Modi’s election has raised new interest in India’s future course, with high expectations for renewed growth and accelerating reform. The Bay Area is uniquely connected with India. Nearly 215,000 immigrants from India live in the region, comprising the second largest Indian-American community in the U.S. Nearly one-fourth of Silicon Valley engineers are Indian, and 15 percent of Silicon Valley startups have been founded by Indian immigrants – more than any other nationality.

Council CEO Jim Wunderman in closing remarks said the Bay Area Council stands ready to leverage its strong relationships in India to assist companies looking for trade and investment opportunities.

Ambassador Stevens was then traveling to San Francisco for a dinner meeting the Council convened with top women business leaders to discuss gender equity issues and growing attention in India on women’s empowerment. The Council earlier this year partnered with the San Francisco Department on the Status of Women on two conferences focused on improving gender equity.

The Bay Area Council extends its gratitude to Nandini Tandon and Priya Tandon for helping arrange the meetings with Ambassador Stevens. Nandini Tandon serves on the Board of Trustees of the Bay Area Council Economic Institute and Priya Tandon is a special advisor to the institute. To engage in the Council’s global initiatives work, contact Global Initiatives Chief Del Christensen.