Bay Area Council Blog


KCBS: Proposed San Francisco Hiring Plan Angers Neighboring Counties

Unemployed union workers are demanding that San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom sign a measure requiring the city to hire more local employees for construction jobs, and business groups in at least one neighboring county oppose the law.

The so-called “local hiring law” was approved by a super-majority of the SF Board of Supervisors. It would require that at least 50 percent of the workers hired for city construction projects, actually live in San Francisco. Mayor Gavin Newsom is mulling it over.

Two local job advocacy groups held rallies at City Hall, pressuring him to sign it. James Richards leads Aboriginal Blackmen United, which is based in the Bayview.

“We want to put the Merry in the Christmas, and put the Happy back in the New Year, because that’s what that would mean to us,” said Richards. “It would give us hope for the next year if they signed the local hiring legislation.”

Richards says fewer workers can afford to live in the city, because jobs are farmed out to people from the Peninsula and the East Bay.

But Joe Arellano with the Bay Area Council, said mandating so much local hiring will send the wrong message.

“It’s setting a bad precedent for counties to basically set policies that pit each other against other jurisdictions in the Bay Area,” said Arellano.

San Mateo’s supervisors have come out against it too, saying the Bay Area needs regional solutions to its economic problems.

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The Bay Area Council today announced its opposition to a plan by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors to mandate that San Franciscans make up at least half the work force of construction projects in the City and within 70 miles of it.

Bay Area Council President & CEO Jim Wunderman released the following statement:

“This troubling trend of intra-county battles being started by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors needs to stop.  The Bay Area is one regional economy, not nine island states.  We need to focus on nurturing the fragile economic recovery in our region, not setting bad policies that pit county against county.   The Bay Area Council urges Mayor Newsom to veto this foolhardy piece of legislation.  Right now, we do not need any more incentives for businesses to leave any county, the Bay Area, or California.”

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Contra Costa Times: People must be made to understand high-speed rail strategy

By Jim Wunderman and Carl Guardino

CONFUSED IS the best way to describe how our two organizations — representing more than 600 Bay Area businesses — felt when we first heard the news that the California High-Speed Rail Authority had chosen Borden to Corcoran as the first high-speed rail segment to be built. After all, the majority of Californians probably only see those towns when they’re looking out the window as they fly up or down the state.

We would have liked to see the first phase started in the Bay Area, but the resistance cast by residents in parts of Northern and Southern California raised enough doubt in the minds of policymakers in Washington that they decided to skip over our region and allocate the funds to the safe choice. While disappointing, that should come as no surprise.

But what everyone who has called this initial route the “Train to Nowhere” is failing to grasp is that the train still needs to start being built somewhere.

Borden to Corcoran may not be ideal, but there are reasons for starting there, mainly, the estimated 80,000 jobs the first segment is expected to create. As recently as October 2010, there were 88,900 unemployed workers residing in the counties that are located along the first phase of construction — and that number doesn’t factor in the time that those Californians have been out of work, and the countless others who are struggling to get by. It’s the reason that some have dubbed the Central Valley, “New Appalachia.”

In the Bay Area, we’re still feeling the effects of the economic downturn as well, but we benefit from living in a part of the state that has historically bounced back faster, with much more prosperity when the boom hits.

The other point to consider is that regardless of where the Central Valley segment had been built, the first phase won’t be carrying trains on it. The $4.15 billion the High-Speed Rail Authority plans to spend will be used for building the stations, acquiring rights of way, constructing viaducts, grading, and re-aligning and relocating roadways, existing railways and utilities — not buying rolling stock.

So those who expected trains to be speeding by on the hour between Merced to Fresno or Fresno to Bakersfield are mistaken. It will happen, just not yet.

As many have pointed out, high-speed rail is akin to the interstate highway system created in the United States in the 1950s. The highways were not created overnight, and when they were created, construction first started in Missouri, not Los Angeles or New York. We need to think of high-speed rail the same way.

Moving forward though, the High-Speed Rail Authority needs to quell the anger and confusion about the project that is spreading across the state, and replace it with the appropriate sense of urgency and excitement that comes with a game-changing project of this type.

This can only happen if the authority better explains the nuances and complexities of high-speed rail to the public and gets buy-in for the overall strategy to bring the project to fruition over the next decade. Included in that should be a firm commitment that the next segment will connect two major California metro areas.

We cannot forget why 53 percent of Californians statewide voted to support and allocate funds for high-speed rail. This project will re-establish our leadership across the nation and around the globe. And it also won’t hurt to provide an environmentally sound alternative to the country’s busiest air route and take nearly 70 million auto trips off the road every year — which is what the statewide high-speed rail network is projected to do.

Above all, we should not let the concerns over this first phase of the project kill high-speed rail in California altogether. As the saying goes, we can’t make perfect the enemy of the good.

Building a project of this size and scope was never going to be easy and there were always going to be difficult choices and bumps in the road.

How we deal with those challenges over the long haul is what will ultimately get high-speed rail built.

This is a marathon, not a sprint.

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San Francisco Chronicle: California poised to enter carbon-trading market

Today could be seen as the biggest day yet for California’s climate change law, assuming, as expected, the state Air Resources Board signs off on the rules to implement it.

It will also be a big day for Aaron Singer, CEO of San Francisco startup Pacific Carbon Exchange, which is engaging in an enterprise thought dead in the water not so long ago: carbon trading.

“It’s the official starting gun for California and for Western regional carbon markets,” Singer said. “It means we get to make this business a growing reality.”

Central to the law, which goes into effect in 2012, is a “cap and trade” system designed to limit the amount of carbon from the state’s 500 largest emitters – mostly power plants, energy companies and heavy industry.

Companies emitting less than their state-mandated limit can trade their unused allowance – also known as carbon credits, or offsets – with companies that may be seeking to emit more than their mandated share.

“This is a significant milestone,” said Josh Margolis, CEO of Cantor CO2e, a San Francisco offshoot of New York’s Cantor Fitzgerald, referring to the board’s expected action. “In the trading world, it’s been a decadelong anticipation.”

With the Bay Area Council serving as the firm’s incubator, Singer has been working on its trading infrastructure for the past two years and is in the process of obtaining the certifications and accreditations from the U.S. Commodity and Futures Exchange Commission.

In the meantime, PCarbX, as it is known, plans to begin some futures and options trading next year, pending a full rollout when the bell officially rings in January 2012.

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Sacramento Business Journal: California’s clean-tech industry faces increasing competition

Should California fail to produce clean-tech companies that aggressively compete in domestic and global markets, other nations that are adopting policies and providing financial support for the clean-tech sector will fill the void, costing California jobs and economic growth, according to a Bay Area Council Economic Institute report released Tuesday.

California’s success as a leader in energy and climate policy and cutting-edge clean-energy technology development needs to be seen in a global context, according to the report.

According to the institute, a public-private partnership of business, labor, government and higher education, California attracted more than $1 billion in clean-tech investment in the second quarter, accounting for 70 percent of U.S. clean-tech investment and 50 percent of global investment in the sector.

But the bar is being set by Germany, a global leader in solar and wind, and China, which has emerged as a major global producer of solar, wind, battery and other clean-tech products.

China is now the word’s leading supplier of solar panels, accounting for 30 percent of world production, and is tied with the United States for installed renewable energy capacity but is growing its capacity three times faster.

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California continues to hold an edge over China and other countries as the world’s innovation leader for clean energy technology, but will fall behind if state leaders falter in their pursuit of forward-looking energy and climate policies, according to a report released today by the Bay Area Council Economic Institute.

According to the analysis conducted by the Institute, a public-private partnership of business, labor, government, and higher education, California has attracted 70 percent of U.S. investment in clean tech and 50 percent of global investment. In the second quarter of 2010 alone, clean tech investment totaled $1 billion. The state, says the study, also leads the nation in clean tech jobs.

But China, as well as Germany and an array of other countries, are poised to overtake California if the state retreats on implementation of its pioneering clean energy and clean air standard, AB 32, low carbon fuel standards, and its Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard (RPS).

Other countries lead the U.S. and California in the production and sale of renewable energy equipment, and China is investing heavily in clean tech deployment. California’s challenge is to both sustain and grow its edge in venture investment and technology innovation, and capture the downstream jobs that result.

“With a strong strategy of our own to deploy clean energy, we can remain competitive with countries like China and Germany,” says R. Sean Randolph, President & CEO of the Bay Area Council Economic Institute and author of the report. “If we fail, the state’s leadership and thousands of current and future jobs are at risk.”

According to the analysis, the reason for California’s strong position is its long-term policy direction, tremendous technology research and development capacity, and the ability to create and sustain new businesses.

“California has an entrepreneurial culture; we are better than anyone else at taking an innovative idea and turning it into a profit: from research to development to deployment,” says Randolph. “Our state has a long history of global leadership in emerging sectors, attracting venture capital investment, growing the number of new businesses, creating jobs and maintaining the state’s strong economic standing. California has the highest proportion of clean tech jobs of any U.S. state; we need to continue that momentum with aggressive policies that nurture this fast-growing industry.”

“California has become the international leader in creating clean tech jobs and businesses, but that leadership is currently being threatened by China and even Germany,” said Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.  “As this study points out, to ensure that California remains at the forefront of this sector, we must continue to encourage the growth of the clean tech industry or we run the risk of other countries taking the lead in the marketplace.”

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Finalists in the Bay Area Council’s Holiday Art Competition

Thank you to all the 4th graders from the Oakland Achieve Academy who participated in our 2nd Annual Holiday Art Competition. The top three finalists will have their artwork printed on the Bay Area Council’s holiday cards and the winners will receive their own cards to send to friends and family.


By Bryant Barrera

By Fernanda Cabrera

By Kenton Pham


By Vianney Jimenez

By Cindy Tajtaj

By Ferlandy

By Maria Padilla Estrada

By Darlene Chao

By Cesar Hernandez

By Antionio Martinez

By Bryan

By Abraham Gonzalez

By Jesus Espinoza

By Bryan

By Juan Delgado

By Lara Ramirez

By Luis Hernandez

By Juan C.

By Alejandra Quintero

By Isaias Rosales

By Briseryda-Pablo Calmo

By Olivia Aualos


Sacramento Bee: Effort to overhaul California governance at a crossroads

From voters to top policymakers, almost everyone believes California’s government isn’t working. What’s less clear is how to make the system whole again.

The budget is perpetually late and out of balance. The state’s once-celebrated schools and infrastructure have degenerated into some of the lowest-ranked in the country. Polls show public confidence in state government has plummeted.

Fundamental reforms are clearly needed, say leaders of both major parties, to revamp a state constitution that’s been transformed by legislative restrictions and voter mandates into a collection of piecemeal rules.

Amid the clamor, three high-profile efforts have launched over the past three years to reorder California’s governance system. The idea of a constitutional convention to rewrite the rule book has lost momentum, but there is hope that new players on the scene – an obscure billionaire and a new (and former) governor – can breathe life into the effort.

“You can’t underestimate the level of problems we have, and the government as currently situated does not have the tools it needs to make the reforms,” said Jim Wunderman, CEO of the business group the Bay Area Council, which this year tried to change state law to let voters call a constitutional convention.

“In the end, we have to convince people it’s better to hold a convention and fix the problem than watch this bad movie that is California.”

The latest group, the Think Long Committee, formed by billionaire Nicolas Berggruen, brings an important advantage: the money to take its ideas to voters. He has put together a bipartisan group of high-powered players for an effort he acknowledges will take years.

Berggruen said he initially considered organizing a constitutional convention, but opted against one because “it could get out of control very quickly.”

With a new administration coming in, reform backers could find an ally in Gov.-elect Jerry Brown, who has talked of a “design change” for the state and has shown a taste for out-of-the-box solutions during his 40-year career.

But Brown has echoed concerns about a constitutional convention, telling a Marin County audience it would amount to solving “a difficult problem by an even more difficult process.”

Wunderman said members of his business group who saw the need for change balked at funding a constitutional convention that might result in a document they wouldn’t like.

“You couldn’t look them in the face and guarantee the outcome,” Wunderman said.

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SAN FRANCISCO, CA — The Bay Area Council today released its fall Business Confidence Survey, and the results show that Bay Area CEO’s and executives are feeling more positive about the Bay Area economy, however, they expect the current status quo of slow growth and recovery to continue.  The business confidence index – the number that distills the survey findings – registered at 58 out of 100, up 2 points from the last survey, but still down 4 points from May.

A reading over 50 signals positive economic times, while below 50 is negative.  Last quarter’s Survey showed the index reading at 56 – making this the fifth positive reading in a row since the summer of 2009.  One year ago, the reading registered 53, and in January 2009, the index reached its all-time low of 31.

“Increases in the stock market, actions by the Fed, and our slow, but continued recovery are providing confidence that things are getting better, more than they are getting worse,” said Jim Wunderman, President & CEO of the Bay Area Council. “Small and medium sized companies are still very reluctant to hire new workers, but larger corporations are showing signs that they might be expanding their workforces over the next couple of months.”

The responses of the 473 CEO’s and top executives in the nine Bay Area counties surveyed between November 10th and November 30th, show that overall, 47% think Bay Area economic conditions are better than 6 months ago, up 6 points from last quarter’s survey.  In addition, 53% said they expect a better Bay Area economy 6 months from now, up 9 points from last quarter.

The Survey indicates that a majority of executives, 56%, expect their workforces to remain the same over the next 6 months.  However, 27% of executives stated they planned to increase their workforce.  41% of executives in San Francisco County and 37% of executives in San Mateo County expect to increase their workforces over the next 6 months. Additionally, the Survey showed that 50% of Bay Area companies with over 10,000 employees expect to increase their workforce over the next six months, an increase of 41 points since last quarter’s survey.

In certain industries, there is much optimism that things will be better in 6 months. 52% of executives in professional and business services, and 94% of leisure and hospitality executives expect their industry conditions to improve.  Entering the holiday season, 22% of retail executives expect their industry to improve. Other noteworthy areas expecting better industry conditions in 6 months include: manufacturing (47%), information technology (47%), and financial services (46%).

Finally, when asked, “Which of the following issues is having the biggest impact on your business at this time,” 74% of executives listed the overall economy, out of choices that included: financial regulation (7%), healthcare reform (6%), the tax rate (6%) and debt and deficits (4%).

“While there is still a large degree of uncertainty in executives’ outlook, the most promising news in this quarter’s survey is big corporations’ intent to start hiring in the next six months.  If that comes true, it will be welcome news for the recovery,” said Lenny Mendonca, Director at McKinsey & Company.

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