Sustaining the Bay Area’s economic growth, broadening it and positioning the region and the state for future prosperity were central to the policy agenda the Bay Area Council Executive Committee adopted this week under the leadership of new Chair David Cush, CEO of Virgin America. The agenda reflects several issues on which the Council has long provided leadership, but whose urgency has intensified as the regional economy continues on a fast upward trajectory. The Council’s policy priorities include:

Build more housing. The Bay Area has come up short over the past several decades in creating sufficient housing across a range of incomes to keep pace with demand. The shortage has become painfully apparent over the past 24 months with surging economic and job growth and spiking demand. Attracting the best talent to our region requires having sufficient housing. Under the leadership of Mike Ghielmetti, CEO of Signature Development Group, and Mike Covarrubias, CEO of TMG Partners, the Council’s Housing and Sustainable Development committee will focus on how we can create more housing and address some of the immediate issues related to the current shortage. To engage in our housing policy work, contact Policy Manager Catherine Lyons.

Improve transportation system. With economic growth has come increased demand on the region’s transportation system, including growing traffic congestion. From our bridges, roads and highways, to BART and other mass transit systems, we must find creative and actionable ways to increase the capacity of our transportation network to allow our economy to grow. John Eddy of Arup and Caroline Rodman of T.Y. Lin will lead this important effort. To engage in our transportation policy work, contact Vice President Michael Cunningham.

21st Century Infrastructure. California’s stature and prosperity are founded on decades of visionary investments in the state’s infrastructure—highways, college and university campuses, aqueducts and reservoirs—without which, California as we know it would not exist. But the new economic, environmental and technological realities of this century require a new understanding of essential infrastructure, one that includes and prioritizes the 21st Century Infrastructure of energy and communications networks. To engage in our 21st Century Infrastructure work, which is being led by PG&E CEO Anthony Earley and AT&T California President Ken McNeely, contact Policy Manager Adrian Covert.

Early childhood education. The Bay Area Council is a statewide leader in advocating for investment in early childhood education. Research is absolutely clear that there is no better investment for preparing our future workforce than investing in preparing children to enter kindergarten. Under the leadership of George Halvorson, former Chairman of Kaiser Permanente and Chair of the California First 5 Commission, the Council is readying a major statewide initiative aimed at raising awareness about the importance of early childhood education and increasing access in under-served communities. To engage in our early childhood education work, contact Policy Vice President Matt Regan.

China trade and investment. China is expected soon to move from third to second as California’s largest trading partner. The Bay Area Council is partnering with Governor Jerry Brown and the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development to operate the California-China Office of Trade and Investment, and we are looking forward to dramatically expanding that work in 2014. To engage with the CA-China Trade Office, contact state Director Genevieve Herreria. To engage in the Council’s global initiatives, contact Vice President Bing Wei.

Healthcare. The Bay Area Council has led the business community in preparing for the rollout of healthcare reform and ensuring that the new system prioritizes controlling costs and improving care. The Council will step up its work in this critical area of our economy in 2014 as many of these changes go into effect. To engage in our healthcare policy work, contact Senior Policy Advisor Micah Weinberg.

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