Jennifer Chen
Economic Development Coordinator

As mentioned in a recent post, last week we hosted an audience of more than 60 makers, manufacturers, brokers, developers, and civic leaders at Ellison Technologies to hear Recast City’s Ilana Preuss discuss Real Estate Opportunities for Makers and Small-…

As mentioned in a recent post, last week we hosted an audience of more than 60 makers, manufacturers, brokers, developers, and civic leaders at Ellison Technologies to hear Recast City’s Ilana Preuss discuss Real Estate Opportunities for Makers and Small-Scale Manufacturers.

The resurgence of small, local producers has become a type of social amenity and is creating “connection centers” for communities. Many communities have started to allow mixed-use industrial buildings in their downtowns and have refurbished historic buildings in order to provide economic opportunities and help integrate industrial spaces into central places for gathering, meeting, and producing.

These small-scale manufacturers often utilize dedicated production spaces of less than 5,000 sq. ft. and sometimes as little as 1,000 sq. ft. They are filled with a variety of industries such as food, beverage, electronics, and fashion. Ilana shared stories about how small-scale manufacturing and makers can be a vehicle for economic resilience, community building, and image branding. She provided several examples of cities that have seized the “Maker Movement” to retrofit older industrial buildings across the country. A local example is San Francisco’s Pier 70 that’s working in collaboration with Forest City and SFMade.

To assist Ilana with her analysis of Fremont’s maker scene (currently in progress), we did some field work and took her to meet a few local small-scale manufacturers.

Zeefoods

Family-owned Zeefoods manufactures Indian-flavored exotic kulfi desserts and ice cream flavors such as pistachio, mango, malai, saffron, and lychee. The husband and wife team is passionate about creating high-quality, delicious ice creams. Find Zeefoods’ creamy and exotic sweets in the frozen aisle at Indian grocery stores in the Bay Area.

DasBrew

This German-style microbrewery and tasting room hosts daily happy hours to showcase how they craft each batch of beer with dedication, attention, and care. DasBrew’s beers have won awards at many competitions. Thirsty? Visit them at their tasting room or at next year’s Art and Wine Festival in Fremont.

SchmartBoard

SchmartBoard manufactures prototyping development boards that can be easily hand-soldered by engineers, technicians, teachers, students, and DIY enthusiasts. Each board and component fits together similarly to Lego pieces. SchmartBoard pieces are available at electronics retailers such as Fry’s.

Carole Wang

Carole Wang is a designer label with over 25 years of experience in the fashion industry. In the 90s, her clothes were sold in high-end retailers, ranging from Nordstrom to NYC boutiques. Currently, Carole sells her clothes online directly to clothing boutiques. Her clothing uses knits and fabrics made from bamboo and other natural fibers. Carole prototypes her clothing out of her 300 sq. ft. office in Fremont.

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Startup Grind Recap: Andy Pandharikar, Tall Ideas Lab



Shilpi Sharma
Director of Fremont Startup Grind

Andy Pandharikar of Tall Idea Labs wasn’t always an Angel. His successful foray in entrepreneurship includes the sale of FITIQUETTE — a technology startup allowing the fashion industry to create an online boutique with a virtual fitting room. In some ways…

Andy Pandharikar of Tall Idea Labs wasn’t always an Angel. His successful foray in entrepreneurship includes the sale of FITIQUETTE — a technology startup allowing the fashion industry to create an online boutique with a virtual fitting room. In some ways, the fitting room is an analogy for his career journey, which has included a few wardrobe changes. From a humble Mumbai childhood to corporate America techie to startup founder to sage Silicon Valley investor, here are some insights that he’s gained along the way:

  • While most of the world will pressure you into being either a tech provider or an implementer, there are advantages to pursuing both. And while you don’t need to chase the big deals, it’s nice when they come knocking!
  • Even if you can survive on friends and family funding, it is helpful to see how you are benchmarked by the VC community. This is especially true for consumer products.
  • On choosing partners — “You don’t want to be in the club that already wants you.” Pandharikar takes the position that you should always aim higher.
  • While Pandharikar acknowledged that e-commerce can be a difficult business, there are ways to improvise. For example, avoid inventory challenges by using Zappos!
  • “Startups don’t get sold, they get bought.” When you’re ready to sell, it’s up to you to architect multiple offers, and even feign indifference! Turns out that playing hard to get is quite effective.
  • Angels and VCs are two different beasts. Whereas VCs evaluate based on pattern recognition, Angels are there to support the cause. Pandharikar is driven by personal stories — “why” someone is building something.
  • Where startups are spending their money is an important indicator of success. Key question: are the spending priorities adding value?
  • Free press is better than paid press. Find the unexploited channel and maximize exposure.
  • What are the “no-no’s” in approaching angel investors? Avoid cold calls and don’t forget that Angels are motivated by emotion, not the market.
  • Competition is not the enemy. Don’t be afraid to talk to your competitors. View them as “friends who are building similar stuff.”
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On August 27, Startup Grind Fremont will be speaking with Amit Kumar, founder of Trimian. Starting at 6 p.m., you’ll find us at EFI (6700 Dumbarton Circle, Fremont, CA). Kumar is an experienced entrepreneur with a proven track record of conceiving groundbreaking ideas, building highly motivated and cross-functional teams, and delivering award-winning products. He’s also an innovator with over 15 patents. Kumar founded Lexity, a “one-stop-shop of e-commerce services,” which was acquired by Yahoo! for more than $35 million.

Kumar will share advice on what it takes to grow a company from the ground up.

Don’t miss out! Get your tickets online here.

Can’t make next week’s event? Not to worry — Startup Grind Fremont has other events scheduled through September. Stay informed by visiting www.startupgrind.com/fremont or by following us on Twitter @FremontGrind and Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/StartupGrindFremont/.

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Category: Startups



Ron Sha
Ohlone College Faculty

As the new lead on IT programs (CNET — Computers, Networks, and Emerging Technology) at Ohlone Community College, Ron Sha brings a wealth of CIO experience to his new role. We recently met with Ron to find out more about his plans for the program and his …

As the new lead on IT programs (CNET — Computers, Networks, and Emerging Technology) at Ohlone Community College, Ron Sha brings a wealth of CIO experience to his new role. We recently met with Ron to find out more about his plans for the program and his thoughts on IT trends that are shaping the Silicon Valley economy.

Q: Community colleges have played an important role on the front lines when training for IT jobs in Silicon Valley. Under your leadership, what will the emphasis be at Ohlone College?

A: A major goal of the IT program is to work closely with industry to create class schedules that are relevant to and in high demand by Silicon Valley firms. In addition to preparing students to transfer to 4-year universities, Ohlone College serves working professionals who want to enhance their current skill sets. We want our programs to be flexible and tailored to industry and technology trends to better position our students to be competitive and successful in the growing economy. Ohlone has several programs to help to meet industry needs. For example:

  • The Cyber Security Certification Program focuses on protecting computers, networks, programs, and data from unauthorized access.
  • The Big Data and Business Intelligence Program focuses on analyzing data sets from existing enterprise data, external data, and unstructured big data. Students learn how to turn data into valuable information that may enable a company to make strategic and tactical decisions related to business operations and efficiencies, new revenue generation, and competition.
  • The Health IT Program focuses on the integration and management of health information systems, data security, and methods to maximize healthcare operational productivities.

Q: After 30 years of working for companies like WebMD, Sun Microsystems, and Glu Mobile, you must have a good understanding of what companies are looking for from IT recruits. What makes a candidate stand out, and how can these characteristics be honed at a community college?

A:  Staying on top of new technologies and keeping technical skills current is very important, but improving one’s soft skills is important too. In fact, I would say that having great soft skills is critical to standing out, as it demonstrates one’s ability to work well with others in a team environment, engage in creative problem-solving, take initiative, plan and prioritize well, and so on. Ohlone not only offers classes to enhance technical skills, but also classes to improve soft skills. I would encourage all students to pursue these different avenues. 

Q: You also teach classes at Ohlone. What is the typical profile of an Ohlone student? What has surprised you about your students?

A: I have students who are preparing to transfer to 4-year universities and also students who are working professionals who simply want to develop and improve their personal and professional skill sets. The benefit of having working professionals is that they can immediately relate what they are learning to a real-world context. To make classes more fun and interesting, I incorporate and explain to my students how the new skills that we discuss in the classroom can be used in a real-world environment with real-world examples. All of my students are bright and full of potential. I am impressed by the novelty and ingenuity of their ideas with regard to the applications and configurations that they consider and contribute during class discussions. Therefore, they are unsurprisingly surprising, if that makes sense.

Q: As president of the CIO Scholarship Fund, you are working across the Bay Area to help economically disadvantaged college students attend college and pursue degrees in technology-related fields. The philosophy is that individuals who are able to overcome adversity bring unique skills and value to the workplace. What do you see as the biggest barriers to entry for a college education? Any success stories to share?

A: The CIO Scholarship Fund team comprises volunteers from local Silicon Valley high tech companies. One of our goals is to help students succeed in studying technology in college. We have provided various activities for the students to participate in such as company tours, internships, and seminars with guest speakers from the high tech industry. We have also provided funding for the embedded tutoring programs at Ohlone College, which are designed to decrease attrition and improve student success in courses through an Active Learning Model of Instruction.

Computer science classes with embedded tutors, for example, have gained an astounding 10 percent increase in students successfully completing courses. Student testimonies demonstrate that they understand the material better, get their questions answered, engage their peers in learning, and ultimately gain the requisite confidence for career success. The embedded tutor program is at the heart of the “pay it forward” concept. Student tutors benefit from the program but, most importantly, they are able to help other students succeed as well.

Embedded tutors have become an integral part of Ohlone’s strategic planning. The Student Equity Plan, one of Ohlone’s major planning documents, is currently being implemented in order to increase the success of all underperforming, underrepresented students. Embedded tutors are critical to the success of this mission.

Q: We would be remiss if we didn’t ask for your opinion on major IT trends that are shaping Silicon Valley. What programs do you predict Ohlone will need five years from now? How will the Silicon Valley tech environment be different?

A: The fun part of working in a technology-related field is that you never get bored. Technology is constantly changing. In recent years, we have seen rapid technology growth in the form of cloud computing, Internet of Things (IoT), social networks, and smart devices — all of which fuel the growth of software-defined-everything technologies, machine learning, big data, business intelligence, and cyber security. In order for Ohlone to keep up with all of these rapidly changing technologies, we intend to work closely with our technology partners to ensure that what we teach is relevant.

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Category: Fremont General

Advanced Industries Update: A Mixed Picture of Progress



Mark Muro
Senior fellow and the Policy Director of the Metropolitan Policy Program at the Brookings Institution

This piece, “Economic inclusion requires a robust advanced sector, but too few of these industries are growing” written by Mark Muro, was originally published on the Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program website on August 4, 2016.  City, metropolitan are…

This piece, “Economic inclusion requires a robust advanced sector, but too few of these industries are growing written by Mark Muro, was originally published on the Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program website on August 4, 2016. 

City, metropolitan area, and state leaders across the country continue to look for ways to re-energize the American economy and make it work better for more people. One way they are doing that is by looking to expand the nation’s advanced industries.

As defined and tracked by Brookings over the last few years, the 50 R&D- and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math)-worker intensive industries that make up the advanced sector are going to be crucial in building a growth economy that works for all.

These high-value industries, ranging from auto manufacturing to high-tech services, play a huge role in developing and applying innovations that drive productivity growth necessary for increased living standards. In addition, the sector promotes inclusive prosperity because it pays well (including to the half of its workforce that lacks a college degree); supports long supply chains; supports local consumer spending; and helps other industries and firms to raise productivity and pay standards.

So how is this critical sector doing? The release today of a new Metro Program trend update and interactive data resource sheds some light on what’s been happening in the last two years. What emerges from the update is a mixed picture of progress and drift. Momentum continues in the manufacturing sub-sector, but the energy sector has slumped. And though high-tech services are booming, in aggregate the advanced industries growth base narrowed.

On the up side, continued growth of the sector—notwithstanding weak business investment, global headwinds for exports, and overall sluggishness of the expansion—gives cause for encouragement. Output growth across the 50 industries increased during the last two years even as employment growth remained positive and delivered 600,000 new jobs (11 percent of the national job total). Moreover, the truly dynamic and broadly dispersed growth of the advanced services sub-sector bodes well. Digital technology services are currently the most effective tools available for raising the nation’s productivity, and wages with it. That advanced services grew by nearly 4 percent a year between 2013 and 2015 to add 500,000 jobs in the recent period (80 percent of the aggregate advanced sector’s job creation) suggests the broad value and momentum of tech.

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With that said, though, many of the trends revealed by this update are disquieting. Although half of the nation’s advanced industries gained momentum in the last two years, half lost it, and others among the growing industries were progressing only slowly.

In this regard, the slowing of manufacturing employment growth and the collapse of it in the energy sub-sector means that the advanced sector’s growth base has narrowed. Those slow-downs, combined with last week’s dreary output report from the Commerce Department, raise concerns about the durability of the current expansion. One takeaway: Regional and metropolitan economic development leaders may have less momentum to work with in the most important sector of their local economies going forward. That could complicate securing inclusive growth.

Similarly, the geography of advanced industries’ progress remains uneven. At the state level, momentum accelerated along the West Coast and in the Northeast (traditionally strong in tech services), and persisted in auto-centric Michigan and the Southeast. Energy states struggled.

Across the map of metros, the distribution remained highly variegated. To be sure, most of the nation’s large metropolitan areas in most regions continued to produce advanced industry output and employment growth. All told, 80 of the largest metros experienced some degree of output and employment growth. With that said, output or employment growth was slowing in some 59 locations during the two years. In addition, the metro growth map depicts stark contrasts. Some 23 high-tech, southern, or manufacturing metros clocked annual advanced sector growth rates of 4 percent or more. By contrast, 14 disparate metros actually lost advanced sector jobs.

Moreover, the metropolitan “rich” got richer. While the 20 most advanced-sector-intensive metros accounted for 71 percent of the sector’s growth from 2010 to 2013, their share in the last two years grew to 80 percent. Likewise, while 47 large metropolitan areas (just under half of large regions) managed to increase the share of their output derived from advanced industries between 2010 and 2015, 53 actually grew less specialized in advanced industries. These trends mean that while a dynamic shorter list of metropolitan areas continued to make real progress towards an advanced economy that supports inclusive growth, half of the nation’s large metros were actually moving away from that vision. That drift should be deeply troubling for policymakers and city and metropolitan leaders. It means that fewer cities and fewer regions are deepening their participation in the industries that matter most for constructing broadly shared prosperity.

Given that, the new data—mixed as they are—clearly challenges metropolitan and state leaders to weigh a new round of strategies to stimulate, broaden, and sustain advanced industries growth. There is much work to be done to solidify and expand a key portion of the industry base that is going to be necessary to craft an advanced economy that works for all.

Related topics:

  • 3-part blog series on the original Advanced Industries Report
  • Summary of Brookings Advanced Industries Symposium in Fremont, CA
  • Opinion piece in the San Francisco Chronicle on February 19, 2016 highlighting the workforce implications of the manufacturing sector becoming more digitized
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Flat. Fast. Fun. The “Model Campus” Evolves in Silicon Valley



Kelly Kline
Economic Development Director & Chief Innovation Officer

As Fremont readies itself for Class A office along Innovation Way in the Warm Springs Innovation District, we are gaining inspiration from the Silicon Valley office boom which has brought a whole new level of architecture, sustainability, and employee ame…

As Fremont readies itself for Class A office along Innovation Way in the Warm Springs Innovation District, we are gaining inspiration from the Silicon Valley office boom which has brought a whole new level of architecture, sustainability, and employee amenities to historically industrial areas. This summer, SPUR hosted several events featuring the new “model campus” to showcase office building trends. 

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The new Samsung campus sits at the mega intersection of Tasman and North First Streets, yet allows foot traffic to flow through the site.

 

Experts from SPUR’s all-star architecture panel, featuring Gensler, HOK, and NBBJ, all agreed that key themes such as experience, community, lifestyle, and amenities are driving workplace design. Gensler’s Christine Laing coined the phrase, “Flat. Fast. Fun.” that sums up the goals of the new corporate campus.

  • Flat — Eliminate as many floors as possible. Large floor plates provide flexibility and proximity, and prevent colleagues from feeling like they are on separate planets.
  • Fast — Buildings are expected to be “high-performance” in all senses, from energy efficiency to wellness to socially conscious.
  • Fun — Gone is the notion of work-life balance. People expect a certain quality of life at work, too. Good food and coffee are a must, and many are adding personal services, access to outdoor experiences, and proximity to urban environments when possible.

We are clearly at a crossroads for campus development and wondering what the future holds. While projects are definitely trending toward “activity-based settings” (i.e., urban), large floor plates are still incredibly important for functionality. So, what to do? HOK’s Steve Morton suggests that the “hybrid campus” may be the prevailing typology — environments that can accommodate large floor plates, but also offer important amenities like active streetscapes and transit connections. (Did someone say Warm Springs?!)

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The Samsung buildings are notable for their texture – presenting a silicon chip affect.

 

For good reason, the SPUR events focused a lot of attention on the new Samsung campus on North First Street in San Jose.

It’s a pretty sure bet that when the North San Jose Plan was being envisioned, Samsung’s project would have checked every box in terms of aspirational goals. It’s dense at 1 million square feet. It’s unique. It’s transit-connected. And, it’s LEED Silver. Its presence on the gateway corner of Tasman and North First Street reinforces the urban aesthetic. Parking is tucked away behind the building, and the building mass is mostly above the first floor which creates a ginormous breezeway that pulls people through the site in all directions. And, there’s a bit of trickery too. Although the campus translates as one building, it’s actually two towers connected by bridges.

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Employee amenities are abundant at Samsung, including a gym with a view.

 

Among the most notable architectural features of the building are the separations between building floors. Think of a layer cake. Instead of frosting, there are beautiful gardens in between (and on the top and bottom) that allow all employees access to outdoor space no matter what floor they are on. However, because of different textures on the outside panels, the overall effect is more silicon chip than chocolate cake.

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Employee amenities are abundant at Samsung, including a gym with a view.

 

Employee amenities are abundant at Samsung — a beautiful wood-encased cafeteria that seats 800 people, a gym with a view, sports fields, retail stores, and more. But the greatest amenity of all is the availability of transit connections — Light Rail, ACE train, and coming soon — BART.

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The Samsung cafeteria, clad in natural wood, seats 800.

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Category: Silicon Valley



Amit Shah
CIO, Excelitas Technologies Corp.

Traditionally, the IT organization’s role in manufacturing has been well-defined. At the very core of any chief information officer’s (CIO) mission is to provide tools and technology to make employees and business processes more productive, create new rev…

Traditionally, the IT organization’s role in manufacturing has been well-defined. At the very core of any chief information officer’s (CIO) mission is to provide tools and technology to make employees and business processes more productive, create new revenue models, and provide data-driven analytics for decision makers. The aforementioned objectives drive adoption of ERP, CRM, SCM, PLM, and BI classes of applications to run front office and back office business operations. The economic value created by these initiatives is measureable and undeniable.

Now, as manufacturing processes become increasingly advanced, we are entering a chapter where IT is playing an integral, if not crucial, role in operations. Historically, OT (Operation Technology) was managed by the chief operating officer (COO) to support manufacturing processes. With the advent of cheaper, intelligent, and standards-based OT technology platforms, we now see the convergence of IT and OT for further value creation in a 21st century manufacturing company. This presents a great opportunity for CIO and COO offices to work together to create a sustainable, competitive advantage.

At Excelitas Technologies, we embarked on this journey a couple of years back. Here are some of the lessons we learned along the way.

Create a shared vision and tackle the organization challenge: It is imperative that COO and CIO offices have a shared vision, a well-defined governance structure, and a plan to harmonize key processes (both business and manufacturing). It is also crucial to allow employees to make mistakes and learn from them. The Silicon Valley motto, “failing fast” is very much applicable in this case.

Implement effective communication and collaboration: Communication protocols should be defined to ensure all stakeholders are aware of these initiatives. Furthermore, IT should treat these projects with a different set of project management standards, and not burden the innovation process with non-value add activities. Lastly, it is paramount to build a “feedback loop” in the communication process so that employees can provide necessary input to continuously improve the project outcome.

Define data integration, security, and governance framework: Intelligent, actionable, and accurate data is central to success in any IT/OT project. In our case, our COO defined the key parameters he wanted to measure and share across our global factories. Based on this input, IT put together data integration architecture, procured necessary tools, and deployed intelligent dashboards. We leveraged our existing investment in key planning tools, such as ERPs and SCMs, to provide a holistic view of material flow and quality metrics that drive continuous improvement (CI) initiatives across our factories. Additionally, it is very important to have data and network security built into the architecture and solution offering to ensure data is protected from hackers and other outside intruders.

In the past, most industries separated IT and OT frameworks and toolsets. Today, OT is adopting IT-like technologies at a rapid pace. The convergence of IT/OT promises cost and risk reduction, flexibility in manufacturing processes, and better decision making to enhance stakeholder value across the board. In my opinion, there is a strong rationale for developing these organizational design and technology frameworks, which stand to create long-lasting value for enterprises worldwide.

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Rethinking the Profile of a Prototypical Entrepreneur



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

Let’s get something straight. Not all entrepreneurs wear skinny jeans and a hoodie. And now there’s data to support it. Last month, The Atlantic published an article, “The Myth of the Millennial Entrepreneur,” which suggested that contrary to popular beli…

Let’s get something straight. Not all entrepreneurs wear skinny jeans and a hoodie. And now there’s data to support it. Last month, The Atlantic published an article, “The Myth of the Millennial Entrepreneur,” which suggested that contrary to popular belief this generation is one of the least entrepreneurial in history. Backed up by statistics showing record low rates of business ownership for the under-30 crowd, it appears that parts of the millennial phenomenon may be more of an idea than reality.

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This struck a chord with us since Fremont is home to the highest number of startups per capita in the country, though few people believe it when we tell them. Why? Because our entrepreneurs fit a different profile than the millennial stereotype. As we dig deeper into our startup community, we realize that our founders are mostly mid-career professionals with a full-time job in tech, but who are working hard at nights and on weekends to capture their own piece of the Silicon Valley dream. They call Fremont home because of the lifestyle, schools, and amenities it offers for their families. And while we by no means dispute the influence and importance of millennials, we think it’s a healthy reminder that the generations preceding them may still have a thing or two up their sleeves.

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Category: Fremont General

Real Estate Opportunities for Makers and Small-Scale Manufacturing



Ilana Preuss
Founder, Recast City

By Ilana Preuss, Founder, Recast City When we first met Ilana Preuss from Recast City at the ULI conference in San Francisco last fall, we knew that Fremont could benefit from her expertise integrating manufacturing space for small-scale producers into r…

By Ilana Preuss, Founder, Recast City

When we first met Ilana Preuss from Recast City at the ULI conference in San Francisco last fall, we knew that Fremont could benefit from her expertise integrating manufacturing space for small-scale producers into revitalized neighborhoods. The following Q&A explores the maker movement and how we can best nurture it through the creation of collaborative spaces. A public presentation will take place on the morning of August 17 in Fremont; registration is free.

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Q: The Bay Area is the original home to the original Maker Faire, TechShop, and other organizations that celebrate and support the Maker Movement. What exactly are makers, and why are they important?

A: Makers are people who produce something. They may create something as a hobby, as a full-time job, or they may teach other people how to create items. The Maker Movement is important because it shows people that it is exciting and cool to use your hands and machines to create things again. It also promotes that everyone should have access to maker education and workforce training regardless of income, neighborhood, and background. The maturing movement is also graduating people from ideas of making as a hobbyist to launching small manufacturing businesses that are producing goods at scale.

Q: Since Recast City works nationally, you are in a great position to identify themes and trends that provide insight into the sector. Please tell us more!

A: Many cities are looking to makers — especially those creating small businesses — as a vital source of job growth. These businesses are mostly homegrown by people who live in the community and will stay there. The small production businesses also create good quality jobs — often paying 50-100 percent more than retail and service jobs. These mid-tier jobs are often missing from our neighborhoods and are key to creating a strong local economy. Communities across the country are also beginning to recognize that these businesses can help to strengthen local retail areas. The production businesses are quiet and clean. They are great neighbors. And people love to walk by shop windows to see things being made. These businesses can complement the usual retail shops and restaurants to create a more interesting and economically diverse neighborhood commercial area or downtown.

Q: Which cities have impressed you? Who else is on a path to grow local makers?

A: A number of cities are taking big, purposeful steps to retain, attract, and grow local maker industries and small-scale manufacturing businesses. San Francisco and Brooklyn are ahead of most places with major non-profits that organize and promote these local businesses, provide economic development training, and promote affordable real estate. Cities like Indianapolis and Cincinnati have investment from the city and foundation community, respectively, promoting similar initiatives. Small towns, like Grants Pass and Talent in Oregon, are working with local producers to accommodate more of these businesses in their small downtowns.

Q: Is the real estate sector getting on board with this trend? If so, what’s in it for them?

A: The real estate sector is beginning to see this business sector as an asset, but we are just at the beginning stages of this. Some developers recognize that small producers can attract a “wow factor” to retail frontage when people can walk by and see something being made. It also allows the developer to bring in local businesses that are truly original for the neighborhood. The major challenge is that most producers cannot afford hot-market retail lease rates. Real estate developers have to think about underwriting a portion of their retail space to expect a lower return so that they can create this draw. It often becomes a part of their marketing plan and branding of the new space. Rehabilitation of existing warehouse buildings is often more affordable and accommodates small producers — where those buildings are available.

Q: Besides creating great districts and maker-oriented spaces, what else can cities and their partners do to support makers and small-scale manufacturers?

A: Most importantly, cities need to show small-scale producers and makers that they are wanted. Most of these businesses don’t think anyone is paying attention to them. Cities can help by hosting events, conducting interviews with producers, and creating economic development programs specific to businesses producing tangible products. Many communities consider a “made in” program to brand local products. But I think the relationship between producers, real estate owners, and the city are vital to promote, preserve, and expand the local business community.

Q: What got you interested in starting this business? What is your proudest moment so far?

A: I worked with towns and cities across the country to understand how to implement downtown redevelopment and community reinvestment plans for a long time. I worked in the federal government and in the non-profit sector to help communities adopt smart growth plans to create more housing and transportation choices for everyone. But, I realized that the small business community played a key role that wasn’t being considered. Simultaneously, I got involved in the D.C. startup community and the Maker Movement. And it all sort of came together when I started to meet small businesses that produced goods for retail and wholesale right in my own city. I realized that these businesses are a key piece of the puzzle to create great neighborhoods with strong economies that are accessible to everyone.

My proudest moment — that is tough to pick. I launched Recast City in 2014, and it has been an amazing few years. My proudest moments are when I get to meet the producers in a community and learn about their business, products, and plans for the future. I am consistently in awe of the creativity and business focus of each person, their dedication to making something amazing, and their commitment to the community.

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Patrick Donlon
Senior VP of Sales, Pivot Interiors

Earlier this month, Pivot was pleased to welcome the real estate community into our new ‘super-hub’ to provide a real-life example of how today’s industrial space can flex. Thanks to an event organized by the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA…

Earlier this month, Pivot was pleased to welcome the real estate community into our new ‘super-hub’ to provide a real-life example of how today’s industrial space can flex. Thanks to an event organized by the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA), developers, property managers, and other stakeholders convened at Pivot Interiors’ new facility located at The Crossings @ 880 in Fremont for a discussion on the allure of flex industrial projects such as this one. 

As a company that grew up alongside many of Silicon Valley’s corporate anchors, we believe that we have unique insight into how space usage has changed over the years. And ours is no exception. As the largest Herman Miller dealer in California, we have a diverse operation including offices, showrooms, and warehouse/logistics space. 

At The Crossings, we leased 101,000 square feet of Class A industrial space, and we added about $1.1 million worth of tenant improvements with the help of ArcTech architects and Oltman Construction. This building provided us with the opportunity to consolidate three previously distinct, and geographically dispersed functions, under one roof, gaining huge efficiencies. And because the space was brand new, we were able to customize the build out in a way that can’t always be done with existing space. This means the facility feels and operates exactly the way we want it to, driving employee satisfaction and productivity.

Today, our Fremont facility is an integral part of Pivot’s business, serving multiple purposes. Most importantly, it’s a ‘living’ show room. The active office function is highly visible by customers, who can observe how our products look and feel by seeing our own employees working in this environment. It’s also a great backdrop for events − something BOMA already figured out! Finally, by integrating various functions, we have broken down silos between business units and have seen collaboration reach new levels.

We believe that going forward, more companies will seek out this large, highly flexible space to accommodate diverse activities and customization. In this age of hyper-innovation where flexibility is king, it only makes sense that our workspaces should reflect the same principle. 

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The Future of Fuel Cells in Fremont



Kelly Kline
Economic Development Director & Chief Innovation Officer

Fremont is a city of early adopters, as reflected in the rates of EV ownership, which are among the highest in California. Therefore, it’s no surprise that Fremont is among the first Bay Area cities to build a hydrogen fueling station – which arrives just…

Fremont is a city of early adopters, as reflected in the rates of EV ownership, which are among the highest in California. Therefore, it’s no surprise that Fremont is among the first Bay Area cities to build a hydrogen fueling station – which arrives just in time for the Toyota Mirai fuel cell vehicle that is now available online and in select dealerships.

Fremont staff recently had the opportunity to check out the Mirai, and talk with Toyota and its partners about their clean energy goals and the future of passenger vehicles. Here’s what we learned:

  • Toyota’s suite of hybrid vehicles has already diverted 67 million cubic tons of C02 emissions and saved 6.6 billion gallons of gas worldwide.
  • The Mirai fuel cell stack combines 20 years of engineering work to deliver maximum power density in the smallest size stack possible.
  • 370 cells on the fuel stack pull in hydrogen, which is combined with air to create electricity, resulting in water as a byproduct. The engine produces power on demand, with zero emissions.
  • Safety features include carbon reinforced tanks, sensors that stop fuel flow in case of an accident, and eight airbags.
  • The range will take you 312 miles, and even better, when you do need to fill up, you’ll be on your way five minutes later (unless you need a Slurpee!)
  • Hydrogen stations are rolling out statewide. Nine stations are now open in Northern California including Hayward, San Jose, Truckee, and Harris Ranch. Six more will open in 2017 including Fremont, Palo Alto, and Mountain View.
  • While the cost for hydrogen is currently higher than gas, Toyota is offering three years of complimentary fuel up to $15,000. They’re also throwing in three years of enhanced road service, three years of complimentary maintenance, and an eight-year/100k mile warranty on key fuel cell system components.
  • The sticker price is $57,500 with $13,000 of state/federal rebates available, and zero percent financing for 60 months. Leases are quoted at $499/month for 36 months.
  • Of the 5,000 units that Toyota will produce globally through this and next model year, the majority will be sold or leased in California and the Northeast.

With 58 percent of Fremont’s greenhouse gases being attributable to vehicles, the City remains interested in opportunities to increase the number of zero-emissions vehicles on our roads. You can find out more about the Mirai here.

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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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