Repositioning Retail for a New Generation



Christina Briggs
Economic Development Manager

When the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) convened in Fremont again this year for the annual Northern California Alliance program, the theme was “Repositioning Large-scale Retail Assets.” Rapidly changing dynamics in retail coupled with th…

When the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) convened in Fremont again this year for the annual Northern California Alliance program, the theme was “Repositioning Large-scale Retail Assets.” Rapidly changing dynamics in retail coupled with the rise of the millennial generation are forcing owners and managers of our region’s major retail assets to think about how to stay relevant. The event featured an expert panel — with representatives from a traditional mall, an urban downtown district, and a large power center — that discussed their strategies for evolution.

Rick Hearn, VP of Leasing for Vestar Properties

Vestar Properties assumed management of Fremont’s Pacific Commons Shopping Center in 2013 and was immediately confronted with an interesting question: How do you continue to improve upon an already successful retail center? Just 10 years old, Pacific Commons presented well and had been experiencing leasing success and strong rents. From Vestar’s point of view, deep engagement with the community, the City, and the retail community was key to understanding how consumer needs and preferences had changed so that they could adapt the center accordingly.

For Pacific Commons, elements like wayfinding signage, updated (more drought-friendly) landscaping, refreshed building facades, and activated plaza spaces will enhance the center and better align it with the newest phase, The Block.

Mike Rhode, General Manager of Vallco Shopping Mall

Mike Rhode made no bones about the fact that Cupertino-based Vallco Mall is ready for reinvention. Despite its prime Silicon Valley location, the strength of Stanford Shopping Center to the north and Westfield Valley Fair less than five miles away to the south makes for daunting competition. In addition, fractured ownership among three of its department stores made it nearly impossible for any single buyer to negotiate a sale of the entire site … until now.  

Sand Hill Properties has successfully assembled all 50 acres and is in the process of creating a plan to redevelop the site. Recognizing the true value of Cupertino real estate (think Apple Campus) and equally strong demographics, it sees this as an incredible opportunity to take a “blank canvas” and start fresh. Sand Hill is preparing a plan in close partnership with the community that will likely include a mix of retail, residential, office, and other amenities. Rhode suggested that entertainment and tapping into the innovation spirit will be key drivers for this project — a truly unique situation that is probably not replicable anywhere else.

Steve Snider, District Manager of Downtown Oakland Association

In 2009, the Downtown Oakland Association launched a property-based business improvement district to help revitalize the area, which struggled with graffiti, loitering, and general blight. Few people expected what a transformation these efforts would lead to — today Downtown Oakland is recognized as one of the hottest Bay Area urban districts.

With strong property owner cooperation and a $2.5 million budget , the district has undertaken various right-of-way beautification projects, safety campaigns, and arts events like “First Fridays.” Key to the success of the program has been the Association’s “Ambassador Program,” where team members are “hired for personality and trained for skills.” As the face of the program, these individuals have created a sense of hospitality in Downtown, and the grassroots nature of this work has attracted swarms of new businesses to the area.

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Options for Growth: Questions to Consider When Seeking Capital



Karen Bixby
VP & Senior Commercial Loan Officer, California Bank Trust

COMING UP AT NEXT WEEK’S SILICON VALLEY MANUAFACTURING ROUNDTABLE MEETING! Options for Growth: Questions to Consider When Seeking Capital As a manufacturer, you’re probably offered plenty of advice on how to improve efficiency, get ISO Certifications, o…

COMING UP AT NEXT WEEK’S SILICON VALLEY MANUAFACTURING ROUNDTABLE MEETING!

Options for Growth: Questions to Consider When Seeking Capital

As a manufacturer, you’re probably offered plenty of advice on how to improve efficiency, get ISO Certifications, or find new equipment. But, where do you find the money you need to grow? 

It all depends on the circumstances, such as how the money is to be used, how much money is needed, and when it’s needed. For instance, are you constructing or buying a building to expand capacity, entering new geographic markets, acquiring another company, or needing working capital to support revenue growth? All of these situations present different funding paths that will impact your company in very different ways.

Most companies try to use as much bank financing as possible because it is considered the least expensive, both in terms of rate and of avoiding giving up any ownership interest in the company. However, commercial banks are highly regulated and risk-averse, so they may not be able to provide the funds you require. This may suggest seeking alternative financing sources, such as asset-based financing, mezzanine debt, or equity.  

Before seeking financing you should conduct an analysis of your company beginning with its current performance, the financing dollars required, the impact additional capital will have on revenue and profit, and an assessment of management, infrastructure, and other organizational changes required to accomplish growth objectives. Financing sources will be sure to ask such questions.

At the same time, you need to consider your end goal and the benefit(s) or cost(s) of using non-bank financing. Is your goal to go public, be acquired, achieve shareholder liquidity or, stay private? If you don’t have sufficient capital, can the company survive? Will growing give you a competitive advantage or dominant market position? Are you willing to give up equity in the company and have investors hold you accountable? Can margins support a higher cost of debt? 

There are pros and cons with every form of financing. The “devil” is in the details, and what may look appealing on the surface, may not be as good as you think. Always perform careful due diligence on the various sources of funding and different structures presented. And consult with accounting and legal advisors for guidance and insight that will help you negotiate acceptable terms and conditions.

If these are questions you are considering, please join us at the next Silicon Valley Manufacturing Roundtable meeting on Thursday, April 30th at 8 a.m. at Asteelflash in Fremont. (RSVP by clicking on the logo below) I will be moderating a thought-provoking panel discussion with experts on this topic with the goal of helping companies in growth mode understand the different paths and potential implications. 

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The Region is Ready for REDI



Matthew Mahood
President & CEO San Jose Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce

Metropolitan regions all over the country — and the world — have been doing it, and finally, we are too! Just what am I talking about? Regions in our globally competitive economy are organizing to promote their strengths and brand themselves in unpreceden…

Metropolitan regions all over the country — and the world — have been doing it, and finally, we are too! Just what am I talking about? Regions in our globally competitive economy are organizing to promote their strengths and brand themselves in unprecedented ways. And it’s paying off — just look at success stories like Austin, Texas, and New York City, and you soon realize the potential of these regional strategy investments. The greater Silicon Valley is a little late to this party, due in large part to a long history of organic economic growth fueled by abundant innovation. But the time has come to reconsider regionalism from an economic development standpoint. 

Led by the San Jose Silicon Valley’s Chamber of Commerce, the Regional Economic Development Initiative (REDI) is a new private-public partnership engaging stakeholders in a collaborative effort to create jobs by focusing on Silicon Valley’s most promising economic opportunities. The first phase of REDI included an analysis focused on the changing dynamics of Silicon Valley’s core economy and a growing interdependence of major export engines, support industries, and the service economy. A new wave of innovation, like the Internet of Things (IoT), is a key driver of future opportunities in Silicon Valley. This is creating a number of new opportunities for companies to connect with each other and with public sector partners to leverage exciting innovations in:

  • R&D Centers: Silicon Valley is the Research and Development (R&D) home for global technology firms that are attracted by a high concentration of skilled talent. These R&D centers are building the platforms (hardware and software) that make IoT.
  • Agile Manufacturing: Collaboration between traditional tech firms, local contract manufacturers, and global manufacturing firms in the design and prototyping of new kinds of “smart” hardware represents an exciting opportunity for innovation, driven by IoT.
  • Health IT: Advanced health care services and research in the region are converging with information technology, advancing Health IT services. The integration of IoT and traditional health services is giving both health care institutions— as well as the individual consumer — better access to real-time data and processing power.
  • Smart Buildings: Building and construction industries are being transformed by a move toward greater energy efficiency and new advanced materials, devices, and systems that promote greater productivity and savings. IoT represents the integration of traditional energy savings technology with the power of big data’s predictive and intelligent capabilities.

The next stage in the REDI process will be to engage private sector business leaders in each of these opportunity areas to lead the planning and execution of REDI’s action plan. The initiative will recruit influential members of the private sector (“civic entrepreneurs”) who are committed to the success of the region and understand the benefits of working collaboratively. While previously, the private sector collaborated to work on infrastructure and transportation issues, REDI seeks to be holistic and unified, working to improve conditions inside and outside of businesses.

This is a significant milestone in Silicon Valley regional relations, and Fremont has a critical role to play in this conversation, particularly regarding Agile Manufacturing and Research & Development. Look for updates in the coming months as action plans develop, and let’s look forward to collectively strengthening the Bay Area’s competitive edge.

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REDI Phase 1: Initial Findings - March 2015 - pg. 5

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Energy Efficiency 2.0



Christine Hertzog
Managing Director, Smart Grid Library

(A version of this blog post was originally printed on the Smart Grid Library website in March 2015) Energy efficiency (EE) benefits are well-known. States like California have used aggressive EE policies and standards impacting appliances to building en…

(A version of this blog post was originally printed on the Smart Grid Library website in March 2015)

Energy efficiency (EE) benefits are well-known. States like California have used aggressive EE policies and standards impacting appliances to building envelopes, and it's been a successful strategy to reduce per capita energy consumption. But EE itself is overdue for significant upgrades to become what is christened as EE 2.0. Progress has stalled because of challenges like split incentives and other policy and finance issues. Compare an EE investment in insulation upgrades to an investment in solar panels. Both have upfront acquisition costs with a promise of future energy bill reductions. Homeowners have a range of options that include PACE programs to finance solar investments or can partner with firms that handle the upfront acquisition and installation costs and share in the production and tax benefits. Insulation upgrades lack the same diversity of financial programs and partnership options.

Other problems relate to the opacity of building performance in terms of its energy and water use. Innovations in policy and in the financial instruments that can help building owners easily identify benefits to their bottom lines will help accelerate energy-saving transformations.

There's new momentum and focus on defining and facilitating EE 2.0. California is now turning its attention to delivering a 50% increase in energy efficiency in existing buildings by 2030. The California Public Utilities Commission recently released a draft document on energy efficiency titled California's Existing Buildings Energy Efficiency Action Plan. This roadmap focuses on market forces to transform today's residential, commercial, and public buildings into energy efficient buildings.

To do that, there's a need for relevant data. There's a lack of transparency about building performance. Starting with benchmarking, a methodical development of performance data will provide new inputs for decisions regarding EE investments. This transparency also serves to promote awareness of the value of EE programs to all stakeholders.

More building performance data has another benefit. The barriers to technology advances in materials sciences will be reduced because innovators and their funders will increasingly have credible cost justifications for the addressable markets for their solutions. For instance, new research in energy harvesting can benefit from EE 2.0. Solar, piezoelectric (kinetic forms like vibration), and thermal energy are three areas with some commercial maturity. But electromagnetic waves can be harvested too. There's no shortage of ambient wireless or radio frequency (RF) activity around those of us living in developed economies. Interesting research includes both near-field and far-field applications that harvest TV, cellular, and Wi-Fi signals. The implications of these research activities are widespread. Not only can electronic components become more energy self-sufficient by harvesting energy, but building envelope materials like exterior coatings and windows may harvest energy too.

Expect to see real breakthroughs that overcome today's energy efficiency technology, policy, and finance challenges in the next few years. It's an interesting time to consider how you can take advantage of these trends. Contact us to learn more about how we can deliver strategic guidance about EE 2.0 and what it means for your company.

Christine Hertzog is a consultant, author and professional explainer focused on smart grid technologies and solutions. She provides strategic advisory services to startups and established companies that include corporate, market and funding development.

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Why You Should Support the Ex-Im Bank



Rosemary Coates

(A version of this blog post was originally printed in Supply Chain Management Review in March 2015) Out of all the fantastic things I have done in my 25-year career, I think this event is in the top three or four best experiences. This month, a group o…

(A version of this blog post was originally printed in Supply Chain Management Review in March 2015)

Out of all the fantastic things I have done in my 25-year career, I think this event is in the top three or four best experiences.

This month, a group of 700 manufacturers from across America descended on Washington, D.C., for a “Fly In” day on Capitol Hill. The purpose of the day was to voice support for the reauthorization of the Export-Import (Ex-Im) Bank. I was invited to attend by the National Association of Manufacturers and spent two days talking with senior executives and legislators in support of reauthorization of the Bank.

The Ex-Im Bank supports manufacturers with low-cost loans to help finance export deals. About 75 percent of the money goes to large manufacturers such as Boeing and GE, however thousands of suppliers to these companies are also affected. About 6,000 small and medium-sized manufacturers have also received financing through the Ex-Im Bank which helps to keep American products competitive on the world market through low-cost loans. From 2007 to 2014, the Ex-Im Bank lending supported $25B dollars’ worth of export value for four manufacturing industries in California.

  • Machinery Manufacturing and Sales
  • Electrical Equipment Manufacturing and Sales
  • Computer and Electronic Product Manufacturing and Sales
  • Aerospace

Here’s why Fremont should care. During the same period, the Ex-Im Bank supported 17 Fremont manufacturers with loans, guaranteed credit, and insured shipments in the amount of $474M. The total value of the exports was $900M.

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Clearly, the Ex-Im Bank is a significant resource for exporters. It has also returned nearly $7 billion in profits to the U.S. Treasury, while supporting jobs growth across America. It levels the playing field with more than 60 other countries that have their own export banks. This activity is directly supporting the reshoring of U.S. manufacturing.

The Ex-Im Bank comes up for a reauthorization vote in June and anyone involved with U.S. manufacturing should be watching closely.

About the Author

Ms. Coates is the Executive Director of the Reshoring Institute and the President ofBlue Silk Consulting, a Global Supply Chain consulting firm. She is a best-selling author of: /em>42 Rules for Sourcing and Manufacturing in China and 42 Rules for Superior Field Service and The Reshoring Guidebook. Ms. Coates lives in Silicon Valley and has worked with over 80 clients worldwide. She is also an Expert Witness for legal cases involving global supply chain matters. She is passionate about Reshoring.

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Category: Manufacturing



Kelly Kline
Economic Development Director

For decades, the strength and prosperity of the middle class have served as the catalyst for our country’s long-term economic success and the hallmark of the American dream. The level of broadly shared opportunity for all citizens has been a beacon of hop…

For decades, the strength and prosperity of the middle class have served as the catalyst for our country’s long-term economic success and the hallmark of the American dream. The level of broadly shared opportunity for all citizens has been a beacon of hope and, until the recent global recession, was largely unrivaled among other advanced economies. As middle class job growth and median income wages have stagnated, the search is on for ideas about how to restore vitality to our country’s core.  

A recent study by the Brookings Institution suggests that a renewed focus and sustained investment in strengthening America’s advanced industries — a sector that has historically been the bedrock of our nation’s economic engine — is key to revitalizing our middle class, improving our standard of living, and helping our country to remain competitive with the economic growth of our foreign counterparts.

Last month we provided our thoughts and analysis on the report from more of a 50,000-foot level, in our post titled, “America’s Advanced Industries: The Backbone of Innovative, Sustained Economic Growth in the U.S.[WK1] , examining how the advanced industries sector is driving growth and prosperity on a national level vs. what is happening here at home in the Warm Springs Innovation District. This week, we’ll take a deeper dive into the impact of a recharged STEM careers pipeline and workforce training programs in extending broadly shared opportunity on both a national and local level.

Here’s a snapshot of the high-income and growth opportunities and challenges around STEM careers both nationally and locally:

  • Workers in advanced industries are extraordinarily productive and generate some $210,000 in annual value added per worker compared with $101,000, on average, outside advanced industries
  • More than half of the sector’s workers possess less than a bachelor’s degree, making the sector more broadly accessible than other industries. The exception to this rule tends to be in biotech professions, where a four-year degree or higher is often required. However, the broader biomed supply chain still offers abundant opportunity for “middle-skills.”
  • Overall, the U.S. is facing a labor supply shortage which is only being exacerbated by globalization and technological advances. The complexity of required STEM skills is increasing, while our ability to keep up with the pace of change is lagging behind.

Anecdotally, this shortage rings true in Silicon Valley, even though the San Jose region is known as being one of the most successful advanced industry hubs. While engineering grads pump out of our Bay Area universities (Stanford, Berkeley, Santa Clara and SJSU), we struggle with the “upskilling” of workers that support Advanced Industries. These workers are defined in the report as “skilled technicians that produce, install, maintain, and repair the products and machines …” allowing firms to “create process innovations and enhance productivity.”

In Fremont, our companies and educational institutions are working together to help bridge the skills gap in this area. Here are a few examples:

  - Biotechnology, A.S. Degree: methods and techniques used in biotechnology

  - Short, non-credit, hands-on workshops for industry employees who need to enhance technical skills; over 1,500 employees have been trained

  - Five certification programs to teach students various protocols in manufacturing, statistics, and laboratory skills found in biotechnology

  - Coming in 2016:  an A.S. Degree with a focus on Bio manufacturing

 

  • DeVry University’s Fremont campus reflects the business environment with these programs:

Biomedical Engineering Technology Degree: Combines traditional engineering expertise with an understanding of biological processes emphasizing collaboration with physicians, therapists, and other technicians in the design, construction, implementation, and maintenance of sophisticated healthcare equipment and lifesaving devices.

- Renewable Energy Degree Specialization: Enhancing a degree with this specialization provides a strong engineering technology and electronics background, as well as the understanding of renewable technologies and alternative power sources.

In our final installment of the series, we’ll be discussing the future of America’s advanced industries, and why collaboration at the local/state and regional level is essential for the revitalization and growth of this critical sector. Stay tuned!


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Silicon Valley Helps Elevate California’s Biomedical Industry



Gregory Theyel
Program Director, East Bay Biomedical Manufacturing Network

Q&A with Gregory Theyel, Program Director of Biomedical Manufacturing Network Our life sciences blog series continues. In this latest installment, we caught up again with Gregory Theyel, program director of the Biomedical Manufacturing Network. The B…

Q&A with Gregory Theyel, Program Director of Biomedical Manufacturing Network

Our life sciences blog series continues. In this latest installment, we caught up again with Gregory Theyel, program director of the Biomedical Manufacturing Network. The Biomedical Manufacturing Network is convened by a partnership of regional entities focused on supporting and advancing the biomedical industry through business assistance, technology transfer, education and training, and economic development in the San Francisco Bay Area.  

When we last heard from Gregory, the Network was just getting off the ground. So it’s great to see how it is helping biomedical manufacturing companies throughout the Bay Area and what industry trends are emerging through its work.

City of Fremont: The Biomedical Manufacturing Network has established itself as a go-to resource for the region’s biomed community. What are the specific ways you are assisting companies?

Gregory Theyel: We are helping more than 60 companies with everything from setting up production lines, finding employees, and enhancing quality control to finding funding and connecting companies to supply chain partners. We help out with manufacturing, operations, human resources, and financial services to make biomedical companies stronger and scale their technology to better serve their customers and enhance economic development in the Bay Area.

Fremont: Wow. So, now that you are familiar with the entire Bay Area biomedical landscape, how does Fremont fit into this ecosystem?

GT: Of the more than 1,200 biomedical companies in the Bay Area, Fremont is home to close to 100 — one of the largest concentrations in the region with a particular strength in large-scale medical device manufacturing. I’ve worked closely with the City’s Economic Development team to set up meetings and tours with many of these local companies. This partnership has been very productive, and to date, the Network has completed some of its largest projects with Fremont-based companies. 

Fremont: What are some of the biggest challenges these companies are experiencing?

GT: The challenges really vary. Smaller companies often need help setting up their initial production lines, while medium-sized and large companies benefit from expanding their production, improving their quality, and training their employees.

Fremont: Anything else?

GT: Financing is also important. Most biomedical companies are working on a much longer timeline than other industries in the Bay Area. It can take years to go from concept to market, so investors are less likely to invest money they won’t see returns on for long periods of time. We have helped companies find local and more patient capital sources to help with the growth of regional biomedical companies.

We have also helped companies build better and more reliable supply networks. Fremont is well-positioned in the regional supply network. Because of their central location in the Bay Area, Fremont-based companies are often better able to find the resources they need close by.

Fremont: And how do you see the future of the biomedical industry playing out in the Bay Area and the rest of California?

GT: In the recently released 2015 California Biomedical Industry Report, the Bay Area ranks No. 1 with the highest number of biomedical employees in California. In addition, the Bay Area has a diverse and robust concentration of related and supporting industries such as electronics, machining, and software, and these industries help enable innovation and new product development in the biomedical industry. It also helps that Bay Area biomedical companies have access to world-leading research centers — federal laboratories, UC San Francisco, UC Berkeley, and Stanford — that offer cutting-edge technological advancements. 

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Category: Life Sciences



Kelly Kline
Economic Development Director

This post, titled “An advanced manufacturing innovation district grows in Sheffield, England” by Bruce Katz and Kelly Kline originally posted on the Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program website on March 25, 2015 Recently the two of us traveled to Sheffi…

This post, titled “An advanced manufacturing innovation district grows in Sheffield, England” by Bruce Katz and Kelly Kline originally posted on the Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program website on March 25, 2015

Recently the two of us traveled to Sheffield, England to explore an intriguing question: Can a city and metropolis apply the innovation district model to advanced manufacturing? The answer is a resounding yes.

In June 2014 Brookings published The Rise of Innovation Districtsa report that captures a rising development dynamic in which large companies, small entrepreneurs, and advanced research institutions all commingle in dense urban areas rich with housing, public transit, and amenities or in exurban science parks that are rapidly urbanizing. Think Kendall Square in Cambridge, Mass. or University City in Philadelphia, or the new urban vision for Research Triangle Park outside Raleigh-Durham, N.C. These innovation districts are powered by companies, large and small, conducting high-value research or engaged in creative endeavors like industrial design or architecture. Such companies derive great benefit from their close proximity to universities and medical campuses and the talented workers and research ideas these anchor institutions generate.

At first blush, the dynamism we associate with innovation districts might seem to be at odds with the rigid, grinding processes that come to mind when we think of manufacturing.  Even advanced manufacturing appears ill-suited for the mixed, spatially dense, often chaotic environment of innovation districts. Advanced manufacturing is often characterized by isolated, dispersed factories and facilities, large building floor plates (often single story), proximity to traditional highway infrastructure for the efficient movement of goods, and a workforce that is more likely to be tethered to the factory floor than the networking opportunities at the local coffee shop.

Yet, advanced manufacturing has mastered the innovation side of the innovation district phenomenon. Indeed, advanced manufacturing is one of the most innovative sectors in the U.S. and the U.K. To compete with lower-wage and lower-cost countries, advanced manufacturers in mature economies rely heavily on continuous innovation in products and processes via applied research; large capital expenditures in sophisticated plant, technology, and equipment; automation of the manufacturing process through robotics; and a highly skilled workforce.

Our visit to Sheffield convinced us that advanced manufacturing, despite its distinctive “manufacturing” characteristics, may be evolving in a way that embraces the principles, and even some of the physical dimensions, of innovation districts.

The city of Sheffield and its neighboring town of Rotherham harbor a rich, textured network of advanced manufacturing companies that continue to excel in precision engineering and the supply of high-quality customized parts to firms in sectors like aerospace and energy. This is an intensely specialized bespoke manufacturing that has, as Keith Ridgeway of the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) described, “no room for error” given the safety issues associated with airplanes, nuclear power, and complex oil and gas exploration. We visited several companies—Sheffield Forgemasters International, Aloca (previously Firth Rixson), and Newburgh Precision—to see firsthand the evolution of manufacturing and its reliance on sophisticated technology, space-age machines, and skilled workers. Each of these advanced companies and many others operate under a common brand, “Made in Sheffield,” which reflects the historic legacy and current pride associated with making things.

The advanced manufacturing companies in Sheffield and Rotherham make up an innovation ecosystem that draws from a pool of talented workers and applied research. The ecosystem is centered at the Advanced Manufacturing Park (AMP), built on the site of a former coal mine. The Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre at the park contains an impressive array of specialized facilities, each dedicated to providing advanced manufacturing companies in the region and beyond access to industrial expertise, cutting-edge machines and equipment, and, ultimately, solutions to complex technological challenges. The facilities we visited—all modern in design and sporting world-class infrastructure and equipment—are a result of a close collaboration between the University of Sheffield and over 100 leading research and development (R&D) and production companies including Boeing, Rolls-Royce, BAE Systems, Hitachi, Tata, Forgemasters, Mori Seiki, Dormer Tools, Sanvik Coromant, and Castings Technology International. The park houses two of the U.K.’s seven high-value manufacturing catapult centers and is part of the region’s enterprise zone (providing companies with various tax incentives).

As is common in innovation districts, the park includes an incubator facility, which houses 150 small and medium-sized enterprises in areas such as industrial design and information and communications technology. These companies are benefiting from the proximity to new research and collaboration between high-quality engineering and manufacturing companies; one company said that it regarded the park as the elite “Mayfair” address for advanced manufacturing. We were particularly struck by a company called Iceotope, whose liquid-cooled data servers stand to disrupt traditional data farms by radically reducing the energy needed to maintain temperature control.

As a sign of things to come, AMP also houses a state-of-the-art training center, which provides apprenticeship opportunities to 250 individuals a year in an effort to bridge the engineering skills gap.

We were impressed with the nature, scope, and scale of the corporate offerings and sheer number and size of the applied research facilities in the Advanced Manufacturing Park. In a relatively short period of time, the park has emerged as a compact and centralized anchor for the broad network of manufacturing companies in the Sheffield/Rotherham area. In many respects, AMP embodies the core economic focus of innovation districts: routine collaboration across government, universities, and private-sector companies in sectors that are fueled by technologically advanced R&D and highly skilled workers. The park’s inclusion of apprentice training on site reinforces the fact that many of the jobs in the “tech sector” require workers with skills and credentials that can be obtained without receiving a degree from a four-year university.

As cities, companies, and universities proceed with the designation of advanced manufacturing innovation districts, several strategies are worth considering.

First, engage a task force. The Sheffield advanced manufacturing ecosystem and its burgeoning innovation district have evolved in smart ways over the past decade. A strong foundation has been set for future growth and development. One way to catalyze this would be to appoint a group of stakeholders—high-level representatives from the university, city government, and the private sector—to take stock of market momentum and recommend actions for the next stage. In Detroit, Mayor Mike Duggan is pursuing this path. Using his convening power as mayor, he has created an Innovation District Task Force that is headed by the head of the Henry Ford Health System and comprises representatives from key public, private, and civic institutions.

Second, collect evidence and set a vision. In Detroit and elsewhere, leaders are examining the economic, physical, and networking assets of their innovation districts in order to discern their distinctive competitive advantages and set a plan for future growth. This asset audit helps determine the right geography for an innovation district. A tour of Sheffield revealed the existence of an “innovation triangle” connecting the park, key companies in the broader Don Valley, and the city center’s downtown area—with its ample amenities, university campuses, and focus on creative design. To this end, the Advanced Manufacturing Park appears to be the fulcrum of a broader innovation district rather than the sum total.

Third, design specific strategies to achieve your goals that are supported by a strong land-use plan. Sheffield’s Advanced Manufacturing Park does not yet have the vibrancy and urbanity of city-centered innovation districts that congregate around advanced research institutions like MIT or Carnegie Mellon or Drexel University. In other words, there is no sense of “place” in the park. In our view, attention to simple amenities like walking paths, bike lanes, and green spaces as well as the programming of public spaces (for occasional lectures and gatherings) would go a long way toward not only humanizing the park but also enhancing its potential for innovative discoveries and progress. This is exactly the kind of “urbanization” that is being designed for exurban science parks like North Carolina’sResearch Triangle Park. Additionally, the Advanced Manufacturing Park is separated by highway infrastructure from the Sheffield Business Park, which contains many complementary assets, including the AMRC’s Factory 2050 (which is currently being built). Improving the connectivity between the two parks is another element of the smart place-making that is essential to realizing the full innovation potential of the companies, researchers, and supportive institutions located in this relatively compact area of the region. Establishing this connectivity may also lend itself to the area becoming an active corridor along which a mix of uses (housing, travel accommodations, and retail) could organize themselves.

Fourth, insist on smart national policy. In some cases, that might mean additional, large-scale, targeted investments from central government in infrastructure and R&D. In other cases, that might mean more ambitious devolution of powers to the Sheffield City Region—to raise its own revenues and exert more control over how national resources are used, better aligning funding with the specific needs and opportunities of its distinctive economy.

In all cases, the advanced manufacturing innovation district would benefit from the national government and local stakeholders working together, as equal partners, to realize the full potential of this distinctive economy. The experience of New York City’s Applied Science Initiative (and the specific attraction of Cornell University and Technion University to Roosevelt Island) illustrates how cities benefit from the expansion of their stock of advanced institutions, whether global companies or research institutes. Perhaps Sheffield, working closely with the national government, should issue a global request for proposals to augment its enviable position in high-quality advanced manufacturing.

Fifth, realize the benefits from sharing best practices, cross-promotion, and collaboration with other emerging innovation districts that are anchored by advanced manufacturing.Fremont, Calif., which is home to Tesla’s electric vehicle manufacturing operation, is one such example. Fremont has instituted a unique land-use plan to support innovation district goals by addressing and incentivizing a mixed-use public realm, connectivity, and open space. We expect there will be more examples over time given the importance of advanced industries to the global economy and the implicit need to revitalize the outmoded industrial park. To the extent that this new prototype is possible, cities like Sheffield and Fremont will lead the way, and a team approach will strengthen their efforts.

The challenge of cities in mature economies is to be the best 21st century version of themselves. Our visit to Sheffield convinced us that there is a strong base for a globally significant innovation economy and a strong rationale for spatially organizing that economy in ways that recognize the common attributes of innovation districts—integration, proximity, density, connectivity, and quality place-making. The region, in other words, has a good hand to play and, most importantly, appears ready to act with intention, purpose, and ambition. These are the right ingredients for the kind of advanced economy that is a prerequisite for broad-based prosperity. 

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Exterior of the University of Sheffield Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) 

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Category: Fremont



Bill Harrison
Mayor, City of Fremont

Last Friday, it sure felt like spring in the City of Fremont. I had the honor of delivering our annual State of the City address at a luncheon hosted by the Fremont Chamber of Commerce at the ever-gracious Fremont Marriott Silicon Valley.   This is an ev…

Last Friday, it sure felt like spring in the City of Fremont. I had the honor of delivering our annual State of the City address at a luncheon hosted by the Fremont Chamber of Commerce at the ever-gracious Fremont Marriott Silicon Valley.  

This is an event I look forward to each year – it serves as a unique opportunity for all cross sections of Fremont community to gather, connect, and share their experiences.  It’s not often that you’re able to find members from the Economic Development team, our Police and Fire Chiefs, the Superintendent of the Fremont Unified School District, and representatives from companies that have chosen to call Fremont home – all together in one location.

As we reflect on our successes in 2014 and look ahead at the remainder of 2015, it’s clear that Fremont is no longer the Bay Area’s “best-kept secret.” We’re coming into our own.

  • Significant expansions by companies like Delta, Seagate, Lam Research, Western Digital, and ThermoFisher have totaled nearly $500 million of private investment in the Fremont community.
  • We’re grabbing national headlines in top publications like CNET, The Washington Post and Bloomberg, among others.
  • Solar City leased the former Solyndra facility to house its Silevo panel division, a move that speaks volumes for Fremont’s cleantech sector and the continued growth of the Warm Springs Innovation District.
  • The Crossings is set to extend Fremont Boulevard to Dixon Landing Road, creating a significant new commuter connection to Silicon Valley.
  • The city’s Warm Springs/South Fremont BART station is coming closer to completion and is slated to open in December 2015.

During the address, we revisited our National Manufacturing Day Infographic, highlighting America’s great manufacturing comeback and all the exciting developments happening right here in Fremont. Believe it or not, manufacturing is a defining characteristic of Fremont’s Innovation District strategy. With over 900 companies across 185 industries, manufacturing right here in Fremont, we’re making things happen.

And if you want to learn more about our City’s recent successes and what we see for the future of Fremont, we’ve posted the speech and slides on the City website for your viewing pleasure. You can find it all at www.Fremont.gov/StateoftheCity. We also plan to post the webcast of the State of the City address later this week.

Thanks to all who made this year’s State of the City such an excellent affair. And a special thanks to all our City employees for pushing Fremont forward and making these achievements possible. 

 

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Click on the image to download the full presentation. 

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Category: Fremont

Big Milestone in Warm Springs — Lennar’s Master Plan Approved



Cliff Nguyen
Urban Initiatives Manager

A new chapter in Fremont’s history is about to be written with the addition of more jobs, housing, and supporting development close to the new Warm Springs BART station that is scheduled to open in December 2015. Back in July 2014, the City approved the W…

A new chapter in Fremont’s history is about to be written with the addition of more jobs, housing, and supporting development close to the new Warm Springs BART station that is scheduled to open in December 2015. Back in July 2014, the City approved the Warm Springs Community Plan. And, last week the Fremont City Council approved a master plan and development agreement with Lennar to build a large-scale, mixed-use project in the heart of the district. 

The agreement is crucial to transform 111 acres of vacant land north of the Tesla Factory from what was once slated to become a Union Pacific rail yard to a vibrant, strategically urban center with 2,214 housing units and 1.4M square feet of Class A office/industrial space. The development also includes an elementary school, urban park, public plazas and the development of “Innovation Way”, an east-west street connecting the BART station area to Fremont Blvd., and the primary internal roadway for the development project. The master plan will create 4,100 new direct jobs and spur investment in the area. The master plan approval is a key milestone for Lennar’s purchase agreement with Union Pacific. 

Given the vast size of the project, Lennar has proposed four phases for the development. Phase 1 begins in the spring of 2016 with the construction of the backbone infrastructure. This phase includes the construction of Innovation Way, North-South Streets, Lopes Court, and Industrial Drive. Phase 2 will see the building of affordable housing units, the elementary school, urban parks and plazas. Phases 3 and 4 will lead to the completion of the market-rate multi-family units for the project.

Lennar’s development is significant because it will provide the infrastructure for R&D and commercial development. The company’s upfront investment in schools, parks, public plazas, and roads is estimated to exceed $100M. Additionally, Lennar’s catalytic project will leverage other public improvements such as a pedestrian bridge over the Union Pacific rail spur. 

This is a giant step forward in Fremont’s plans to become a “strategically urban” community and build on the Innovation District prototype that has been taking shape in South Fremont.

 

 

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Category: Warm Springs

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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.