The current crisis in our business climate – exacerbated by COVID-19, a reoccurring season of horrific smoke and ash falling from the sky, rampant heart-breaking homelessness, and high housing costs for everyone else – is unraveling on one of the world’s mightiest economies. The consequences will be devastating. California for too long has willfully ignored our awful business climate. Companies, high-net worth individuals, and some of our most-talented up-and-coming residents are headed for the exits. It seems several companies and high-profile residents announce they are leaving each week.
Movements like these gather their own momentum. We must turn the ship, before we no longer can.
Work on the business climate in California is made difficult by the vast donut hole of public policy towards business. Voters and elected officials seem to only see “small business” and then leap to “billionaire CEOs.” In fact, in the Bay Area, between the 38 Fortune 500 companies, and small businesses, are an eye-popping 27,535 companies. These companies employ about 2.7 million Bay Area residents, or about 73% of all Bay Area jobs. They are in a panic. They feel attacked, disregarded, and taken for granted.
The Bay Area is at a crisis-level inflection point. We have lost Oracle, Palantir, Jamba Juice, Hewlett Packard, Charles Schwab, and McKesson. In Southern California, CBRE and Toyota have left. We have lost lots of talented up-and-coming workers, plus prominent venture capitalists and business leaders who have decided California is no longer the place to build their dreams. We have also lost uncounted small and medium size businesses that were already struggling in the business climate, but were done in by COVID-19 shutdowns. Well respected leaders like Leon Panetta, Tom Seibel and John Chambers have joined the chorus calling for a better California.
So many of us moved to the Bay Area to pursue a dream, or a dream job. We were able to come here because the generations of business leaders before us built an economic miracle and fought the hard fight to make it possible. It is now our time to do a difficult thing. And, do it together.
To engage and support the Bay Area Council’s business climate initiative, please contact Chief Operating Officer John Grubb.