Four Cities. One Bay Area Economy. Urban Manufacturing Survey Shows Diverse Strengths

Nov 29, 2016

Kelly Kline

Economic Development Director & Chief Innovation Officer

Urban manufacturing has long been part of Fremont’s DNA. It’s a commitment and a passion that is shared by our big city neighbors including San Francisco, San Jose, and Oakland — all of which have come together to better understand, support, and grow the industry whether in terms of food, textiles, electronics, or medical devices. This new Bay Area Urban Manufacturing Initiative has already chalked up a big project — an in-depth survey that better illustrates the needs and importance of regional manufacturing.

What follows are a few key highlights from the report, which summarizes the survey results. Later this week, we will share information stemming from the first-ever “Urban Manufacturing Summit” where the report was unveiled. In a nutshell, we have a lot to be proud of. But, we also have a lot of work to do to ensure continued growth and success.

  • California leads the nation with nearly 300,000 manufacturing jobs, and over one-third of them are in the Bay Area’s four largest cities. With the large economic multiplier effect, these cities conservatively drive more than $55 billion into the state’s economy.
  • Each city has its own niche in the manufacturing ecosystem:
    • San Francisco has a focus on consumer products such as home goods, jewelry, and furniture, which tend to be smaller shops ranging from 1-2 people to up to 250 employees. SF firms are quite young, reflecting the city’s “maker-entrepreneurial” culture. A majority of companies (60 percent) manufacture only for themselves.
    • San Jose is a regional driver of business-to-business (B2B) products and contract manufacturing. Important sectors include aerospace, medical devices, and computers and electronic equipment. SJ manufacturers tend to be larger, well-established, and have extensive supply chain connections across the region.
    • Oakland has the most varied manufacturing sector of the four cities, ranging from electronics and metal fabrication to food and beverage and apparel products. The diversity is also seen in the size and age of the companies. They are closely linked to companies in San Francisco due to proximity and overlap in sectors.
    • Fremont’s focus is on electronics contract manufacturing, medical device production, and complementing the semiconductor, cleantech, and advanced manufacturing industries. Fremont’s transportation sector is also growing due in large part to Tesla. The city is closely aligned with San Jose and has the highest percentage of companies that also manufacture internationally.
  • In 2015, manufacturing jobs grew or held steady in all four cities. Fremont and San Francisco had the highest annual full-time job growth rate at 17 percent and 10 percent respectively.
  • The Bay Area supports an internationally oriented distribution ecosystem, anchored by the Port of Oakland — the only port in California where exports outweigh imports.
  • All cities report significant physical space constraints for manufacturers. Specific challenges cited include the high cost of industrial space, lack of available expansion space, and the cost of housing for employees. Although Fremont rents are generally half of those in San Francisco, they have experienced an 18 percent growth year-over-year.
  • Fremont has the largest square footage of new industrial development among the four cities, a direct result of having more available land at affordable prices in Silicon Valley.

Companies in all four cities sustain an average of 35-45 percent of their workforce in middle-wage jobs, and 50 percent or more of the manufacturing workforce across the surveyed cities comprise individuals from low-income households.

The report goes on to list four major threads of work for a multi-city regional effort to bolster manufacturing. Our next post will cover these threads, as well as the first regional summit where the report was unveiled. Stay tuned!

Fremont's Bay Area Circuits is one of several manufacturing companies featured in the 2016 Bay Area State of Urban Manufacturing Report.




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Welcome to our blog – Takes from Silicon Valley East! Our view is slightly different here on the east side of the bay – from the Mission Peak backdrop to the advanced manufacturing companies that dot our boulevards. As we become more urban and strive to interpret the business issues affecting our innovation economy, we want to share with you our observations, insights, photos, arguments, agreements, inspirations and CEO interviews – and here on our blog is exactly where we plan to do this.

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