Bay Area Council Blog

Micah_Valley to Valley

Council Briefs Gov.-elect Newsom on Megaregion Project

Gov.-elect Gavin Newsom received a briefing today on research the Bay Area Council Economic Institute is doing that examines the important economic ties between the Central Valley, Silicon Valley and the broader Bay Area. Newsom was joined by number of Central Valley leaders, including former Fresno Mayor and Central Valley Community Foundation CEO Ashley Swearengin, to hear from Economic Institute President Micah Weinberg on economic opportunity and regional connectivity in the Central Valley. The Economic Institute and CVCF are partnering on the report. A host of other Central Valley elected officials and business leaders presented on key areas that should be priorities for the Newsom’s administration. Council board member and UC Merced Chancellor Dorothy Leland also attended and highlighted the amazing and often-overlooked innovation in areas such as autonomous vehicles happening in the region. The Economic Institute will be releasing its full Valley to Valley report in the first part of next year.


Workforce of the Future Completes Morgan Family Foundation Grant

The Bay Area Council’s Workforce of the Future team successfully completed outcomes for a second grant from the Morgan Family Foundation. The grant supported the expansion of collaboration between employers and educators to address skills gaps in high-demand occupations. Through this funding, the Workforce team was able to host nine Occupational Council meetings in aviation and healthcare, and support the implementation of two employer-driven solutions – aviation career exploration events and employer classroom visits.

The Workforce team co-hosted two aviation career explorations at San Francisco International Airport (‘Working at SFO’) and San Jose International Airport (‘Working@SJC’) to spotlight aviation careers for students and job seekers. For our healthcare initiative, the Workforce team conducted three rounds of employer classroom visits for Medical Assistants in San Francisco. The classroom visits were the result of employers seeking to grow candidate’s soft-skills, and by visiting students in-person, they were able to emphasize the importance of these skills to incoming talent. The Workforce team will continue to expand and replicate the employer-driven classroom visit model and aviation career exploration events across the Bay Area in 2019.

Thank you to Morgan Family Foundation for their continued support. To engage in the Workforce of the Future initiative, please contact Senior Vice President Linda Bidrossian.


Celebrating the Year of the Pig

Join the Bay Area Council for its 9th Annual Chinese New Year Celebration on February 13 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at the Julia Morgan Ballroom in San Francisco as we usher in the Year of the Pig. This premier networking event will commemorate the achievements of 2018 – including the opening of our Beijing office – as we forge exciting new opportunities ahead. The Council’s sub-national relationships with our district offices located in the Yangpu District of Shanghai, Yuhang District of Hangzhou, and Gulou District of Nanjing continue to expand bilateral trade and investment activity between the Bay Area and China. To learn more about sponsorship opportunities or to register, please contact Global Marketing Coordinator Karina Salomatina.


Member Spotlight: SENER

Perspective matters. And though 10 years may not seem like a long time to some, to the engineering and technology group, SENER, it has been a dynamic beginning of its meaningful entry into the US market and an extensive period for growth and expansion. Since opening its California-based office in 2008, SENER continues to advance its global innovation and expertise in the US as a leader in revolutionizing infrastructure delivery in the US with projects in infrastructure and transport, renewables, power, oil and gas, marine, and aerospace.

Infrastructure and transport projects include the Gruen/Grimshaw Master Plan high-speed design for the Los Angeles Union Station, and a partnership with ACS to develop the first P3 transit project in Los Angeles—the re-opening of the landmark Angels Flight funicular railway in Los Angeles. For the California High Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA), SENER has overseen the preliminary
engineering of the rail segment between Palmdale and Burbank, a section that crosses the San Gabriel Mountains.

In aerospace, the Nevada-based Sierra Nevada Corporation chose the International Berthing and Docking Mechanism, a critical piece of aerospace technology that SENER developed with a European Space Agency consortium for use with the Dream Chaser spacecraft and its International Space Station docking system. Watch SENER CEO Mercedes Sierra talk about “The Way to See the Future.”  Look what can happen in just ten short years — congratulations to SENER on its great achievements!


Damning Report Highlights What Council Has Been Saying for Years

A damning report the California Air Resources Board (CARB) released this week confirms what the Bay Area Council has been saying for years about the link between housing and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The report found that California is not on track to meet its aggressive GHG reduction goals and puts much blame on the state’s failure to produce new housing, particularly in areas near major job centers and close to mass transit. In the Bay Area, the housing crisis means more and more commuters are being forced to drive longer and longer distances in search of affordable homes. Those extra miles produce extra tailpipe emissions, which account for 40 percent of the state’s GHGs.

In a letter the Bay Area Council submitted to CARB in March, we warned about the state’s inability to produce infill housing and its effect on our GHG reduction goals. The Council called on CARB to examine all and any tools at its disposal to increase desperately needed infill housing. The letter stated, “If necessary, CARB can mandate that cities approve plan-compliant housing in jobs rich and transit-served communities and implement the vision of “by right” housing laid out in Governor Brown’s 2016 Budget May Revise.” The letter followed by two years a report by the Bay Area Council Economic Institute —Another Inconvenient Truth—that reached essentially the same conclusion as the new CARB report.

The CARB report comes as the Council readies its 2019 housing agenda, including continuing our advocacy on a range of reforms to expand accessory dwelling units (aka granny units), strengthen local accountability for meeting housing obligations, increase investment in affordable housing and updating local land use and zoning laws to encourage more housing near transit. The Council is also beginning to examine how parochial traffic regulations, infrastructure and ordinances contribute to increased auto emissions, a topic not addressed in the CARB report. To engage in the Council’s housing policy work, please contact Senior Vice President Matt Regan.


Council, KPMG Explore Exciting New Opportunity Zone Program

Dozens of impoverished and low-income areas around the Bay Area are eligible for investment under a new federal Opportunity Zone (OZ) program that was the focus of a recent informational forum the Bay Area Council co-hosted with KPMG. The event brought together a diverse group of financial, tax, investment and development experts along with elected and public leaders to discuss how opportunity zones can be leveraged regionally to produce positive outcomes across infrastructure, business and real estate, and generate a wide range of job-creating economic activity. OZs were included in the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. They provide tax incentives for new investments in projects that address needs in environmental justice, sustainability, climate change and affordable housing.

Council CEO Jim Wunderman and KPMG Principal Dan Feitelberg welcomed the audience before Dan Carol, a senior advisor in the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development, led a discussion with Richmond Mayor Tom Butt and Micah Runner from the office of Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs on the potential for OZs to serve these low-income areas. Later in the day, KPMG Principal Orla O’Connor led a discussion with leaders from the Council, Bridge Investment Group and Highmore Group Advisors on technical aspects of OZ regulations. The Council plans to convene additional forums as more information becomes available from the IRS and Department of Treasury on the rollout of the OZ program. To learn more, please contact Council consultant Stephen Malta.


Workforce of the Future Completes Grant with Citi Foundation

The Bay Area Council’s Workforce of the Future initiative wound down a successful grant with the Citi Foundation at the end of November. The grant supported the Council’s workforce programming to build stronger connections between employers and educators, providing career pathways for historically underrepresented populations in the Bay Area. The Citi Foundation grant supported the Council’s partnerships on seven Inclusive Economy career fairs, the rapid expansion of our innovative Occupational Council model, and enhancements to website to expand user engagement. The Council extends its gratitude to Citi Foundation for its generous support. We look forward to continuing to build a stronger, more inclusive workforce throughout the Bay Area. To engage in the Council’s Workforce of the Future initiative, please contact Senior Vice President Linda Bidrossian.


SF State Announces Largest Gift in Its History

From one Bay Area Council member to another, San Francisco State University President Leslie Wong recently announced the largest gift in the school’s history from George and Judy Marcus. George Marcus, who serves on the Council’s Board of Directors, is co-founder and co-chairman of Marcus & Millichap, was a 1965 graduate of the university and is a former University of California regent, among his many other civic and professional affiliations. Judy graduated from SFSU in 1962. The $25 million gift from the George and Judy Marcus Funds for Excellence in the Liberal Arts, will support student and faculty research across the college, as well as four endowed chairs and major programmatic enhancements in the department of Creative Writing and the school of Cinema. “We are extremely grateful for the Marcuses’ generosity and ongoing service and commitment to San Francisco State University,” said President Wong, who also serves on the Council’s Board of Directors. “Their steadfast support has had a profound impact on our students, faculty, staff and programs, and this history-making gift will carry that legacy far into the future.”


Member Spotlight: CSAA Insurance Group

CSAA Insurance Group, an AAA insurer, joins a small group of private financiers to invest in a new Forest Resilience Bond that funds the upfront costs of forest restoration, while earning investors returns from the multiple agencies that benefit from the mitigation work. Investments in such projects are critical in addressing the growing risks of wildfires associated with climate change and its impacts forests. CSAA joined The Rockefeller Foundation, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and Calvert Impact Capital in providing a combined $4 million in private capital to fund a pilot project aimed at improving forest management in 15,000 acres of the North Yuba River area of Tahoe National Forest.

The National Forest Foundation will lead the forest management work on the ground: managing invasive plants, cutting down small trees, clearing out shrubs, and burning off ground cover that can fuel wildland fires, for example. Healthier, thinner forests reduce the risk of severe fires, improve watershed health, and protect water resources. “Investing in healthy forests is good for the state, good for AAA members, and good for us as an insurer with thousands of customers living in areas at risk of wildfires and other disasters,” said Linc Walworth, vice president of investments at CSAA Insurance Group. “We earn a good return while helping the environment and our customers. What a great combination in a single investment.”


Many Ways to Help Victims of Deadly Fires

Northern California too soon is reeling from a deadly fire. The Camp Fire in Butte County exploded to become one of the state’s most destructive and deadly fires in history, incinerating the entire town of Paradise and so far killing at least 63 people with hundreds still missing. The conflagration has destroyed an estimated 9,000 homes, leaving thousands homeless as winter approaches and putting urgent pressure on local, state and federal agencies to find replacement housing in a remote area already reeling from a serious housing affordability problem.

The Bay Area Council extends is deepest condolences to all the victims and families affected by this horrific inferno, and the Woolsey blaze in Southern California. We express our profound gratitude to the firefighters, police and other first responders, along with an army of selfless volunteers, who are working courageously and tirelessly to put out the flames and assist residents in recovering. Many Bay Area Council member companies have moved quickly to provide resources and raise millions of dollars for the massive rescue and recovery efforts that are already under way. Much more will be needed in the coming weeks and months.

The Camp and Woolsey fires come just a little over a year after the devastating North Bay fires, which killed dozens, eviscerated whole neighborhoods and communities, and wiped out more than 7,000 homes. While the reasons for these catastrophic blazes are complex, climate change is a major factor in creating weather conditions that contribute to the severity of fire. The Bay Area Council is working along several channels to help address how we adapt to changing weather and make our communities more resilient to the effects of climate change. Our Bay Area Council Economic Institute is working with leaders in the North Bay to leverage data in developing new policies that can help speed the rebuilding of homes and address the growing risk of building in areas where fire danger is highest. As California’s population grows, we must work to concentrate new housing away from rural and remote areas that increasingly will be affected by more and more dangerous fires and other impacts of climate change.

Red Cross: Monetary donations can be made to the American Red Cross by calling 1-800-RED-CROSS or texting REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

California Water Service & Utility Workers Union of America Camp Fire Relief Fund. Cal Water will match the first $25,000 of contributions made to the Camp Fire Relief Fund before November 26, 2018, effectively doubling your individual contribution.

North Valley Community Foundation: Fund goes to support the needs of the evacuation centers who opened their doors to house fire victims who lost their homes or had to evacuate. Donate here.

United Way of Northern California Relief Fund: To donate text BUTTEFIRE to 91999, or visit and select “Camp Fire Relief”

California Community Foundation’s Wildfire Relief Fund: Supports victims by helping to rebuild homes and providing financial assistance to those who need medical and mental treatment. Donate here.

California Fire Foundation: Provides financial support to surviving families of fallen firefighters and firefighters who are battling at the front lines of the blaze. Donate here.

Airbnb: The home-rental company started a program that asks users to open their homes to those hit hardest by the fire. Hosts in regions marked on the map will offer their homes for free until November 29, 2018. Offer is good for displaced residents and relief workers.

North Valley Animal Disaster Group: Works jointly with public and private agencies and organizations in the area help in the safety and well-being of all domestic animals and farm animals, including wildlife, affected by a disaster. This includes assistance with emergency temporary shelter, evacuation, and medical care. Donate here.

Volunteering: The Red Cross has a volunteer page for those who want to pitch in above and beyond donations.