Council Brings the Region’s Priorities to D.C.
The Bay Area Council this week stormed (not like that) the nation’s capital to meet with top Congressional leaders and Biden Administration officials, highlight the Bay Area’s importance and many connections to the nation’s economy and affirm our continuing partnership in addressing our greatest challenges. Led by Chair Kausik Rajgopal, Executive Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer for PayPal, and Chief Operating Officer John Grubb, a delegation including representatives from more than two dozen Council member organizations packed a busy schedule into three days of back-to-back meetings. Deterred by a positive COVID test, Council CEO Jim Wunderman was unable to attend (he’s doing well and is on the mend). But the delegation was not deterred from its mission of showcasing the Bay Area’s top priorities, advocating for federal funding and other critical policy decisions and deepening understanding of the Bay Area’s role in creating jobs, powering the country’s innovation leadership and promoting foreign trade and investment, among other critical priorities.
The Council delegation held meetings with Senators Dianne Feinstein, Alex Padilla and Steve Daines (Montana), and Representatives John Garamendi (Davis), Mike Thompson (Napa), Jared Huffman (North Bay), and Josh Harder (Central Valley) on everything from climate resilience, wildfires and R&D investment to housing, transportation and the megaregion to education and voting rights. We also met with lead staff for Reps. Anna Eshoo (Peninsula), Zoe Lofgren (Silicon Valley), and Barbara Lee (Oakland). In meetings with U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai and Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Sarah Bianchi, we discussed tech regulation in the European Union, U.S.-China relations and broader changes occurring in global trade dynamics that will have implications for the Bay Area’s and California’s deep international economic connections. We also met with Dr. Liz Reynolds, a core leader of the National Economic Council focused on manufacturing, goods movement and the ports, and had a thorough discussion about the Port of Oakland and strategies to further improve this critical asset for the Bay Area.
The delegation met with U.S. Office of Apprenticeship Administrator John Ladd to highlight our leadership in creating and growing the Silicon Valley Apprenticeship Consortium and the Northern California Apprenticeship Network and discuss opportunities for continuing our partnership.
With tens or hundreds of billions of dollars at stake, a core focus of our trip was securing new transportation funds for the Bay Area and our megaregion. In a jaw-dropping sign of respect, U.S. Deputy Secretary of Transportation Polly Trottenberg gathered the top 15 leaders of the entire Department of Transportation (DOT) for comprehensive discussion of our needs and new post-pandemic strategies. The DOT team thanked the Council for sponsoring legislation to streamline environmental reviews and said it is helping “move the needle” on various transportation projects, and pledged their full-throated support to expand expediting in California. We also discussed the challenges transit agencies are confronting in recovering from steep ridership declines during the pandemic. The Council highlighted our new Waterfront Mobility Committee and Goods Movement Subcommittee (see items below) with officials from the Federal Maritime Administration.
In meetings at the White House, the delegation discussed strategies for ensuring federal funding reaches local recipients and the role the Council can play in keeping the Administration informed about regional and business community priorities. There were also multiple Paris Hilton sightings, and the delegation shared a hotel with former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the Prime Ministers of Italy and Thailand.
The Council extends its deepest thanks to our delegates and our sponsors, including Visa, Google and United Airlines.