Jennifer Chen
Economic Development Coordinator

When you hear the term “biomedical manufacturing,” it may be difficult to conjure up an image of what that looks like exactly. But whether you see it or not, the efforts of biomed manufacturing are literally producing life-changing results. From a cuttin…

When you hear the term “biomedical manufacturing,” it may be difficult to conjure up an image of what that looks like exactly. But whether you see it or not, the efforts of biomed manufacturing are literally producing life-changing results.

From a cutting-edge replacement knee joint to a new advanced diagnostics machine to a breakthrough drug for HIV/AIDS treatment — all of these are the result of years of research, development, and manufacturing.

And, a large majority of this activity is happening right here in the San Francisco Bay Area, specifically, in Fremont.

While the thriving tech scene in Silicon Valley receives the most exposure, the Bay Area isn’t just home to the latest software developments. With the help of the Biomedical Manufacturing Network, we took it upon ourselves to develop an infographic that breaks down the numbers behind biomedical manufacturing.

Here is just a preview:

  • There are 1,100+ biomedical companies in the Bay Area, and nearly half are involved in manufacturing biomed products.
  • The Bay Area is also home to 140,000 biomedical jobs, with 14,000 more expected in the next two years.
  • And not that we’re tooting our own horn, but the City of Fremont in particular is home to the largest concentration of biomedical manufacturing companies in the SF Bay Area — 47 to be exact.   

If you’re looking for more opportunities to learn about biomed, consider checking out the upcoming BIO International Convention when it returns to San Francisco, the birthplace of biotech, from June 6-9, 2016.

And to learn more about the opportunities for biomedical companies here in Fremont, you can

find more resources here

bioinfographic.pngnd more resources here

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Category: Biotechnology



Katie Handy
Associate, Field Paoli Architects

Occasionally, we like to share blogs from other writers, bloggers, and journalists, because, well, sometimes they can say it better than we can. This blog from Katie Handy, an associate at the esteemed Field Paoli Architecture firm in San Francisco, share…

Occasionally, we like to share blogs from other writers, bloggers, and journalists, because, well, sometimes they can say it better than we can. This blog from Katie Handy, an associate at the esteemed Field Paoli Architecture firm in San Francisco, shares her observations which illustrate how the Maker Movement is changing interactions between artists and objects in public-private venues such as Tech Shop.  The writing is poignant, but the photos really capture what the Maker Movement is all about – “creating connections and cultivating creativity.” 

 

04.20.16

Maker Movement: Playing Well with Others

There’s something compelling about physically making things. Most people know by now that the maker movement is a progression toward creativity and hands-on learning using advanced technologies to create physical things. The movement embraces all types of fabrication from wood, metal, glass, and plastics to food and beer. But an essential and sometimes forgotten aspect of this movement is a devotion to sharing. It is the sharing of skills, ideas, and creations that is helping the movement to grow at increasing rates, reaching all age groups, backgrounds, and interests. 

See more on http://bit.ly/1VknT3b

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Category: Manufacturing

Fremont Dedicates the Month of May to Affordable Housing



Dan Schoenholz
Deputy Community Development Director

May is Affordable Housing Month, providing a great opportunity for the City of Fremont to show its commitment to affordable housing and to keep residents informed regarding the City’s efforts. Here are a few updates on some of the affordable housing proje…

May is Affordable Housing Month, providing a great opportunity for the City of Fremont to show its commitment to affordable housing and to keep residents informed regarding the City’s efforts. Here are a few updates on some of the affordable housing projects that are currently in development.

One project of note is the St. Anton Communities project, Innovia [rendering below]. This 290-unit transit-oriented mixed-use affordable housing development will be located across the street from the new Warm Springs/South Fremont BART station, which is scheduled to open in the third quarter of 2016.

The development itself will provide housing units, as well as retail space and a number of on-site amenities like active courtyards, social centers, a swimming pool, gathering areas, a tech center, and a bike repair facility. Not only that, but there will also be on-site free classes focused on workforce development, resume preparation, English as a second language, technology skill development, nutritional health and well-being, among others. The ground breaking is scheduled to take place in November 2016 and the development should be completed within two years.

A few other projects the City has in the works include:

  • Laguna Commons – a 65-unit affordable housing project with nearly half of the units reserved for military veterans has almost completed construction and is scheduled for occupancy at the end of May or early June this year.
  • Central Commons – a 30-unit Habitat for Humanity project for low-income home buyers is anticipated to break ground later this year or in early 2017.
  • Parc55 – a 93-unit affordable senior apartment project developed by the nonprofit Eden Housing that is set to begin construction in late 2016 or early 2017.
  • Stevenson Family Apartments – an 80-unit affordable housing project developed by the nonprofit MidPen Housing. Construction is planned for early 2017.

On top of these developments, the City of Fremont has taken on other strategies to increase affordable housing. Some of these strategies include:

  • Updated Affordable Housing Ordinance—In 2015, we updated our affordable housing ordinance to increase affordable housing funding and incentivize market rate developers to incorporate affordable housing into projects.  And since the update, the City is proud to say that fees collected and onsite affordable housing production have both increased.
  • Grant Funding—Back in 2014, Fremont competed for and was awarded a $1.7 million grant from California’s Local Housing Trust Fund Program.  The grant is being used to support development of the 80-unit Stevenson Family Apartments affordable housing project.
  • Shared Housing—Fremont recently partnered with HIP Housing, a San Mateo based nonprofit organization that creates homes for Bay Area residents. The home sharing program partners those who have spare bedrooms with those seeking a place to live, to create affordable housing and mutually beneficial options.

As we celebrate Affordable Housing Month, we’re pleased that we have great things happening on the affordable housing front, with lots more to come in the future. 

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Category: Fremont General

Two Wheels or Four, Carbonless Commuting is Getting Easier



Kelly Kline
Economic Development Director & Chief Innovation Officer

Commuting takes a toll -- on a personal level, and on the planet. But for those of us who must commute, guilt-free solutions are emerging thanks to significant investments in local infrastructure. Last week, the future of commuting looked a little greener…

Commuting takes a toll -- on a personal level, and on the planet. But for those of us who must commute, guilt-free solutions are emerging thanks to significant investments in local infrastructure. Last week, the future of commuting looked a little greener with hundreds of bicyclists participating in "Bike to Work Day" and the unveiling of eight new charging stations in Fremont’s Innovation District

Bike commuters have made significant strides as Fremont's bike lane network has extended its reach. At last count, Fremont had 156 miles of bike paths including trails, designated bike lanes, and bike routes, with many more in the planning stages. For the annual Bike to Work day on May 12th, Fremont had several "energizer stations” throughout the city for riders to refresh and refuel, and the numbers at its busiest stations (BART and the Don Edwards National Wildlife Refuge) have been higher in the last two years than ever before. We made the rounds that day, and collected some great anecdotes.

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At Don Edwards, which makes the critical connection between Fremont and the Peninsula, I spoke with a group of Google employees commuting from various points in the East Bay over to Mountain View. One "Googler", Sumer Mohammed, was making her first commute by bike. She welcomed the opportunity to try the route in a group, as a precursor to eventually making the trip on her own. She was only halfway there, but had a huge smile on her face and reported her brain was already engaged in a different way.

 

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At Tesla's energizer station, I met Larry Kawalec, who actually has a relatively short commute from his Fremont home to his job near Tesla. He chose to visit multiple stations for a lengthier workout. (There are always overachievers amongst us!) 

 

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Electric vehicle (EV) commuters also had a good week. Already, Fremont's 94539 ZIP code has received more EV rebates than anywhere else in the state, and the supporting charging network is keeping pace. A unique public-private partnership between the City of Fremont, the Fremont Chamber of Commerce, industrial landlord Prologis Inc., charging station manufacturer, Delta Products Corporation, and charging payment software company Gridscape Solutions teamed up for a successful grant award from the California Energy Commission. The result: eight new publicly-accessible chargers for Bayside Business Park within Fremont's Innovation District, which are listed on the PlugShare map. Four of the 16 ports are "high-speed" and will entice new EV drivers, while also making it easier for existing EV owners to charge near one of the Bay Area's most dense employment areas. 

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Shilpi Sharma
Director of Fremont Startup Grind

Startup Grind Fremont has new digs! Entrepreneurs can now find us at Electronics for Imaging (efi), in their ultra-hip, new corporate headquarters in Ardenwood. At our last meetup in April, efi CEO, Guy Gecht, dropped by to welcome the group and quickly t…

Startup Grind Fremont has new digs! Entrepreneurs can now find us at Electronics for Imaging (efi), in their ultra-hip, new corporate headquarters in Ardenwood. At our last meetup in April, efi CEO, Guy Gecht, dropped by to welcome the group and quickly tell the story of efi’s rise to dominance in digital print technologies. 

Donna Novitsky, founder of Yiftee, was the featured speaker of the evening. Yiftee is a digital gifting solutions company. Consumers, corporations, and merchants use the Yiftee mobile and online app to send thoughtful, unexpected gifts via Twitter, email, and text. Recipients can then pick up their Yiftee gifts using their smartphone at their favorite local restaurants and shops.   

While describing the journey of creating Yiftee (her start-up dream), Novistsky talked about their laser focus on customers and the 3 C's in finding the right customer: Credibility, Comprehension, and Caring. “I'm a big proponent of broad market research...your product is not about you, it's about them [customers].”  Using this approach Novisky built her business and garnered $4 million in venture capital funding for Yiftee. It was clear audience members were extremely engaged in the story, as evidenced by the robust Q&A session which followed.

 

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Up next for Startup Grind Fremont is a celebration of Female Founders month on Tuesday, May 24, 2016 at efi (6700 Dumbarton Circle, Fremont, CA). The meetup will feature three impressive women, each at different stages of their startup journey.

  • Niousha Zadeh is the founder and CEO at Brite Health, a brain health app for senior citizens. Niousha has PhD in Experimental Medicine; and is among the top 100 influential innovators in the Persian community. http://britehealth.co
  • Yukte Oberoi founded Yuhmbox along with Anuja Jaiswal to provide busy families with healthy dinner options during the week. She left her successful corporate career at NetSuite to follow her passion for family and healthy foods. http://www.yuhmbox.com
  • Saylee Raje is living her dream of building a community of Fashionista's to exchange ethnic dresses. She is an engineer by education and has also worked as a life coach. http://www.ethnicthread.com

Don’t miss out! Get your tickets here.

Can’t make next week’s event? No to worry – Startup Grind Fremont has other events scheduled through August. Stay informed by visiting Startup Grind Fremont, or by following us on Twitter @FremontGrind and Facebook at Startup Grind Fremont.

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Category: Fremont General



Christina Briggs
Deputy Economic Development Director/Assistant to the City Manager

Last week, an elite group of leading clean energy investors, entrepreneurs, corporate executives, policymakers, and other prominent members of this ecosystem convened in Fremont at the 2016 World Energy Innovation Forum. Held very appropriately at the Tes…

Last week, an elite group of leading clean energy investors, entrepreneurs, corporate executives, policymakers, and other prominent members of this ecosystem convened in Fremont at the 2016 World Energy Innovation Forum. Held very appropriately at the Tesla Motors Factory, the event produced a plethora of thought-provoking ideas and poignant remarks from the dynamic speakers, making great fodder for social media buzz.  Here are a few highlights, but check out #WEIF2016 for all of the great sound bites.

Ira Ehrenpreis, Managing Parter of DBL Partners & World Energy Innovation Forum Chairman

Kicking off the summit, Ehrenpreis emphasized the incredible momentum in clean energy fueled by industry leaders, COP 21 commitments, and the increasingly visible effects of climate change. With over $329 billion invested globally in clean energy, corporate America is clearly on board, not in spite of corporate agendas, but because of them.  It just makes business sense.

Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors and SpaceX

Perhaps no other executive has inspired the clean energy revolution more than Elon Musk has.  Despite beating all odds and bringing the Roadster, Model S, and Model X to market, Musk explained the challenges of competing against the level of subsidy enjoyed by traditional automakers. Beyond direct incentives given to the oil and gas industry, no one is paying for the ‘cost’ of the carbon emissions released into the atmosphere. In no other industry, can you blatantly pollute without a tax or fine. 

Dan Sugar, CEO of NexTracker

A veteran of the energy industry, Dan Sugar demonstrated his firm understanding of grid management dynamics, insisting that while infrastructure modernization is important, IT advances can support the changing energy mix extremely well without having to wait for a complete redesign of the grid. This prompted a spirited discussion with fellow panelist, Pedro Pizzaro. As President of Southern California Edison, Pizzaro is focused on decentralization of utility planning and adopting new technologies to ‘fix’ the grid.

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Lyndon Rive, CEO of SolarCity

As the CEO of an energy company, Lyndon Rive says he spends most of his time navigating the policy world—quite a change from his former role at a software company! He is keenly aware that the massive job generation created by the solar industry is key to advancing SolarCity’s policy objectives – let’s remember, solar employs more than 200,000 people in the U.S. Between the economic development benefits and greater demand for choices in energy sources, Rive says momentum is squarely on the side of clean energy.

Beth Comstock, Vice Chair of General Electric

In a moment of ‘girl power,’ Beth Comstock, the first female Vice Chair of GE, and panel moderator, Nancy Pfund (DBL Partners) discussed how Comstock is affecting cultural change (or mixing things up) at the corporate giant, which plays a huge role in the energy industry. Comstock’s view is that long term growth is ‘back in fashion’ and she is very excited by new business lines, such as Current, powered by GE. This digital power service uses advanced technologies to create more intelligent energy environments.  In order to ensure Current operates outside the ‘big institution mentality,’ it has a completely different governing structure and compensation model so that its environment fuels innovation. 

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Janet Napolitano, President of the University of California & Jagdeep Singh Bachher, Chief Investment Officer of the University of California

The University of California has received well-deserved recognition for its Carbon Neutrality Initiative, its participation in the Breakthrough Energy Coalition, and for divesting from coal and tar sands.  The last point is no small feat, with over $100 billion under management between its endowment, pension system, and working capital. These accomplishments are due, in large part, to the leadership of Napolitano and Bachher, who demonstrated a unique partnership during their remarks. They view the UC system’s investment portfolio as an opportunity to foster a culture of innovation, citing many breakthrough technologies that began in a UC lab. Bachher strongly believes that scaling energy innovation goes far beyond the VC community and requires the patience of institutional investors. Laser-focused on what the ‘energy mix of tomorrow is,’ he captured the UC perspective best by saying, “being good citizens is not isolated from making good returns for your investors.”

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Kelly Kline
Economic Development Director & Chief Innovation Officer

In case you missed it, San Jose Mercury News technology writer Michelle Quinn recently highlighted both Fremont and Berkeley as the “hot new address” for tech startups.  Fremont has long been a stealth player in the startup scene, but no longer!  Thanks t…

In case you missed it, San Jose Mercury News technology writer Michelle Quinn recently highlighted both Fremont and Berkeley as the “hot new address” for tech startups.  Fremont has long been a stealth player in the startup scene, but no longer!  Thanks to recognition like this, substantial VC investment (more than $400 million!), and robust startup ecosystem (Startup Grind), Fremont is holding its own in this arena. The original article is below, along with a great photo from Genze, one of our favorite startups in Fremont’s Innovation District.
 

Quinn: The next Silicon Valley? Fremont and Berkeley drive tech scene growth

By Michelle Quinn, mquinn@bayareanewsgroup.com

The hot new address for a tech startup these days is not on University Avenue in Palo Alto or overlooking the play structure in South Park in San Francisco.

Try Shattuck Avenue in Berkeley or the Innovation District in Fremont.

Once confined to the South Bay, the tech industry spread up the Peninsula and into San Francisco. Now it is expanding once again, this time into regions that didn't see themselves as part of the tech scene.

Taking a page from cities around the globe that have worked to rebrand themselves as tech hubs, the Bay Area's newest tech centers are starting to capitalizeon their proximity to the heart of Silicon Valley.

It came as a surprise to me that over the past two years, companies in Fremont received more than $400 million in venture funding in more than 45 deals, according to PitchBook Data, a private financial market data provider.

Berkeley companies, in over 77 deals, also received more than $400 million.

Those amounts aren't anywhere close to the cash given to entrepreneurs in the traditional boundaries of Silicon Valley or San Francisco. But what is happening in Fremont and Berkeley is an indication that cities far from the heart of the valley are building out their own technology hubs.

FREMONT MOVING BEYOND MANUFACTURING

Fremont has long been a Silicon Valley bedroom community and an important manufacturing hub. But when it comes to tech startups, Fremont often gets overlooked.

That perception began to change when a 2012 study by SizeUp, a San Francisco provider of business intelligence, pointed out that Fremont had 21 tech startups for every 100,000 people.

"It was as much of a surprise to us as to everyone else," said Kelly Kline, Fremont's economic development director and the city's chief innovation officer.

Part of Fremont's tech growth can be attributed to the Tesla effect. In 2010, the electric car manufacturer moved into the sprawling 5.3 million square feet of manufacturing and office space that used to be occupied by NUMMI, the former Toyota/General Motors partnership. That in turn attracted entrepreneurs interested in clean tech to what is now Fremont's Warm Springs Innovation District.

But the city has also become a magnet for biotech firms and companies working on connected devices, known as the "Internet of Things."

Still, it's hard to get a true sense of the city's entrepreneurial ferment.

"Most of these people are pre business license, pre sign on the door," said Kline. "They're in stealth mode."

Read the rest of the article on: http://bayareane.ws/1WWzwgL

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(Technician Greg Gill assembles an electric bicycle at GenZe in Fremont, Calif., on Tuesday, April 26, 2016. Jane Tyska/Bay Area News Group)

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Category: Startups



David Greensfelder
Managing Principal, Greensfelder Commercial Real Estate, LLC

Recently I’ve been reflecting on a retail trade blog titled “Hyper-localization Is a Big Deal for Retail – and Even the Big Chains Are in on it.”  This article went on to say that “the concept of hyper-localization is really a backlash against mass market…

Recently I’ve been reflecting on a retail trade blog titled “Hyper-localization Is a Big Deal for Retail – and Even the Big Chains Are in on it.”  This article went on to say that “the concept of hyper-localization is really a backlash against mass marketing.”  Well, on the face of it, it would seem like anything that is hyper-local would be anti-chain.  However, a deeper dive into this “new” hyper-local trend reveals a sophisticated marketing strategy designed to drive foot traffic to local retailers -- be they local independents, or a local outpost of the ubiquitous chain store.

So how does this “new” marketing effort work?  It’s important to analyze the fundamental strategy because in a world of struggling bricks and mortar tenants, finding the secret sauce to foot traffic is critical to the survival of retail streets and center everywhere.

The primary strategy of hyper-localization is to drive traffic from virtual shopping environments to bricks-and-mortar shopping environments.  To achieve this goal, strategies aimed at combining opportunities both to experience and to buy a product are employed because consumers have more of a connection and by extension will be more likely to purchase products they can see, touch and try.  This correlation between experience and purchasing is the reason REI offers free classes, Williams Sonoma has cooking demonstrations, local bookstores have authors reading from their latest works, and (brace yourself) Costco offers free samples.

There are three important components to a hyper-local marketing strategy: Sourcing, service, and shopping.  An example of sourcing would be a restaurant specializing in preparing food using local ingredients, or a boutique featuring clothing by local designers.  On the surface, local sourcing may make it look like hyper-local is about the local guy trying to survive in a chain-dominated world, but look closer: Check out the following screen shot where chain retailer Williams Sonoma-owned West Elm recently touted “initiatives and one-of-a-kind products from local makers….”   It’s interesting to note that you can get 30%, 40%, even 70% off a whole bunch of stuff by clicking just above the feel-good, hyper-local pitch.

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Service is key, and it’s tricky to execute consistently and well.  Chain and non-chain stores alike need to differentiate themselves on service.  Think about the difference in experience visiting an Apple Store as compared with Best Buy or Fry’s.  One is far more service oriented than the others, and sales at Apple stores reflect that by having among the highest sales per square foot in the retail industry.  Another obvious example of service is being able to order something on-line and then pick it up in at the local store.  Again, this is a chain-store tactic to drive traffic from its on-line storefront to its bricks-and-mortar storefront where you might be inclined to pick up something else “while you’re at it.” 

Finally, there is shopping.  As mentioned above, converting an online visit to a bricks-and-mortar visit is a retailer priority.  A store visit is “stickier” meaning you’re less likely to leave a store than move to a competitors web site.  Cross shopping (buying other things at the same store) and an “upsale” to a different/better product are also more likely to happen in a store than online. 

Executing hyper-retail marketing strategies is different for commodity as opposed to specialty retailers.  Consumers patronize commodity retailers based on which offers the easiest or cheapest solution to their need at a given moment.  By way of contrast, consumers patronize specialty retailers based on what makes them feel good allocating discretionary dollars and “free time,” so specialty retailers focus more on unique products and an appealing physical environment.

For example, a consumer who uses the web and their phone to research a commodity item like a television or a phone might find Facebook or Google pushing them to where they can buy the television at the biggest discount or the phone most quickly.  By contrast, a specialty retailer might use social media to drive customer traffic to their store or restaurant.  Either might offer an app to make this process easier.  Have you ever price checked an item on Amazon while at Costco or Best Buy, or ordered your Starbucks on your phone and then dropped by to pick it up? 

In sum, hyper-local retail isn’t a new trend.  It’s a newly minted name for what successful retail businesses have been doing for years: Providing a robust merchandise mix, stellar service, an immersive environment, and the right mix of price and convenience. 

Something to watch is whether this marketing strategy will evolve further into local or chain players offering unique, region-specific goods.  Think esty.com in a bricks-and-mortar format.  Retailers who are able to balance the seemingly opposing forces of cost, convenience, and customization on the same plane will be the most compelling in today’s rapidly evolving retail world.

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Transitional Business Platforms Fuel Startup Growth



Kim Marshall
Economic Development Specialist

Last month, the Harvard Business Review published an article by Robert C. Wolcott titled “Does Your Business Look to the Future or Just Defend the Present?”  We found the piece to be thought-provoking and wanted to share how the phenomenon of “staying ah…

Last month, the Harvard Business Review published an article by Robert C. Wolcott titled “Does Your Business Look to the Future or Just Defend the Present?” 

We found the piece to be thought-provoking and wanted to share how the phenomenon of “staying ahead of the curve” is happening in our local economy related to hardware startups.

In sum, the article suggests that businesses need transitional business strategies in order to respond, identify, and manage profitability in increasingly volatile economic markets. In many industries, businesses are succeeding by keeping up with ever-changing technology and by staying slightly ahead of the curve. In order to do this, transitional business platforms have developed as an intermediate strategy to help businesses focus on customers’ ever-changing wants and needs. These strategies are keeping businesses profitable by being responsive and dynamic. By using transitional business platforms, businesses can lead the market instead of following market trends. 

The City of Fremont has witnessed innovative companies using transitional business platforms to build a customer base while scaling the original concept. Here are two great examples of technology “pivots”:

Enovix, founded in 2007, is in the pilot production of its 3D Silicon Lithium-ion Rechargeable Battery to power mobile products more effectively. Enovix is using a photolithographic and wafer process, similar to that used for producing solar cells. The Enovix platform fully utilizes advancements in reliable, high-volume, low-cost wafer production to transform battery performance just as ICs have for computing, LEDs for lighting and flat-panel LCDs for video displays.

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Oorja Fuel Cells uses methanol as a primary energy source because it is sustainable and ubiquitously found. For their original market, the forklift industry, the product serves as a ‘range extender’ for heavily used equipment in material handling. But over time, Oorja has adapted the technology to the telecommunications industry. Working with companies in developing countries, Oorja now manufactures their economical methanol fuel cells in Fremont and exports their product overseas. As the technology matures, Oorja can use its experience to grow the domestic demand for their products.

These innovative companies are using transitional business models to stay competitive in the ever-changing business climate by understanding what’s next in their industry and what customers want now and in the future. They are staying a step ahead of the curve.

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Category: Fremont General

Innovation Nodes Fuel Economic Rebirth of Philadelphia



Kelly Kline
Economic Development Director & Chief Innovation Officer

Brotherly love. Cheesesteaks. The 76ers. Philadelphia is the 5th largest city in the U.S. and has no shortage of unique and enduring assets.  What has been more fleeting for the birthplace of our independence, is a strong footing for its local economy. Th…

Brotherly love. Cheesesteaks. The 76ers. Philadelphia is the 5th largest city in the U.S. and has no shortage of unique and enduring assets.  What has been more fleeting for the birthplace of our independence, is a strong footing for its local economy. That’s changing, however, as Philadelphia ups its innovation game. Our Innovation District series continues with an in-depth look at "Philly" -- and how it's working on multiple fronts to harness the new economy.

The Urban Land Institute descended upon Philadelphia last week for its Spring Conference, providing the chance for urban planners, developers and real estate professionals to use it as a living laboratory. What we witnessed was a vibrant city, not just in its city center, but also its historic Navy Yard, and the west side of town where "Eds and Meds" have combined forces.

Perhaps the most dramatic change is at the thousand-acre Navy Yard, where master developer Liberty Property Trust has been transforming the historic port. While only three miles from downtown, the property’s imposing gates have long separated it from the rest of Philadelphia. But the workplace history is deeply rooted in the city's identity, beginning in 1912 with a Steel Foundry, and its ultimate role in WWII, employing 50,000 people and constructing 60 ships. The naval base closed in 1996 along with many others across the country, and now serves as a leading example of a successful re-use.

Liberty's carefully planned business center has focused on highly appointed, LEED rated tech oriented buildings, beautiful "adult play and leisure spaces" and a hotel. The current 12,000 jobs have surpassed those at the time of the base closure, and 30,000 are planned overall. Rents already exceed the City Center, and marquee tenants like GlaxoSmithKline have established a presence. Liberty has also maintained an industrial base, helping the legendary "Tastykake" bakery establish a new LEED certified facility.

Part of the allure of the Navy Yard is that it still includes shipbuilding, with the Norwegian Aker corporation utilizing the port (and employing 1,300 workers). The ships serve as a beautiful backdrop to a more artsy corporate presence -- the campus for Urban Outfitters. Their private investment of $300M includes the painstaking rehabilitation of a dozen historic shipyard buildings into a millennial worker's dream setting, complete with dogs, restaurants, and plenty of natural light. The Navy Yard also boasts new energy demonstration and training areas thanks to recent federal funding. The Navy Yard can be considered half done, but future plans to introduce multi-family residential may be the most transformational to date.

Meanwhile, Downtown Philly has seen a building Renaissance, thanks in no small part to the central relocation of the convention center which has exponentially increased hotel development. Housing has followed as the urbanized dynamics of the millennial generation have taken root. And like the Navy Yard, historic assets play an important role -- chief among them, the 125-year-old Reading Terminal Market which hosts 80 local merchants. The market is the most visited place in Philadelphia, as proven by the long line to snag an Amish doughnut!  Much of the Downtown development activity has consolidated on historic Market Street, including the almost 1 million square foot Gallery retail renovation project by the Macerich company.

And it's Market Street which makes the connection to Philadelphia's third node -- the so called "University City District", home to University of Pennsylvania, Drexel, and the new Science Center collaborative with over 30 partners in a 15 building/15 acre area. The concentration of university medical uses with a corresponding wellspring of talent, have made it a natural place to incubate research concepts and foster entrepreneurship. And while large corporate anchors have been elusive, the "Eds and Meds" strategy has generated significant development activity and buzz, including private office and residential projects, as well as institutional contributions such as the "Pennovation Works" Center -- an innovation space focused on engineering, robotics, and the Internet of Things. Inclusive growth is also a priority with plans for public K-12 STEM facilities underway.

The big takeaway for Fremont is that big cities need multiple centers of energy to serve different audiences. Approximately 85 percent of Philadelphia's business activity takes place in these three nodes. While Fremont is smaller scale, Warm Springs, Downtown, and Ardenwood serve distinct employment needs.

Lest we collectively be daunted by the scope and importance of these strategic efforts, here's a parting thought from Drexel's SVP of Economic Development, Keith Orris, "Momentum means unlimited potential."

Philadelphia-Convention-Center.jpg     Reading-Terminal-Market.jpg    Public-Market.jpg

Philadelphia-Navy-Yard.jpg     Urban-Outfitters-Campus.jpg    Adaptive-reuse-of-Navy-Yard-Buildings.jpg

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About

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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