When Lindsey Gilpin recently posted her article, “10 Reasons Why Cleantech Made a Comeback in 2014,” on Tech Republic, it was tough for us not to say, “I told you so!” Through the ups and (more recent deep dives) downs, Fremont has steadfastly pursued a r…
When Lindsey Gilpin recently posted her article, “10 Reasons Why Cleantech Made a Comeback in 2014,” on Tech Republic, it was tough for us not to say, “I told you so!” Through the ups and (more recent deep dives) downs, Fremont has steadfastly pursued a robust strategy around attracting and supporting clean technology companies, citing that these industries collectively make up our highest prospect for growth. And sure enough, several of the reasons Gilpin lists in her piece are on full display here. We think it is worth reflecting on the topics where Fremont was in the headlines during 2014.
Falling Prices in Solar Market
Despite its tumultuous path, solar has maintained a strong presence in Fremont and continues to grow. From panel manufacturing to balance of system/installers to certification and testing, Fremont’s thriving solar sector reinforces Gilpin’s claim that falling prices and near grid parity have led this market to turn a critical corner. Two Fremont-based solar companies were in the headlines in 2014 for high-profile mergers.
We think it’s safe to say that 2014 was the Year of the Battery. In April, the California Clean Energy Fund launched CalCharge, creating a multi-pronged network of resources for the California energy storage cluster.
As home to several companies in this cluster, Fremont was proud to partner with the Cleantech Open and CalCharge to host “2014: The Year of the Battery: Taking Batteries from Bottleneck to Breakthrough,” which brought together 150 battery technologists, entrepreneurs, and VCs to discuss the industry and how Fremont offers a local manufacturing solution for this technology.
Elon Musk (a.k.a. Tesla)
Let’s face it — what’s big for Tesla is big for Fremont. Not many other cities can boast a cleantech company as its largest employer. Tesla is a poster child for cleantech and advanced manufacturing, and its rapid success has put Fremont on the map. More importantly, Tesla’s growth has led to a vast cluster of EV Technology and manufacturing supply chain solutions within Fremont. While there isn’t enough room to list all the headlines and milestones Tesla achieved this year, we recently issued our own reaction to Tesla’s plans for the Battery Giga Factory in Nevada.
Smart Thermostats (a.k.a. Sensor Technology)
Gilpin’s observation about the significance of the NEST/Google deal was not lost on us either. That transaction represented huge market potential for the broader Internet of Things (IOT) movement. The investment community also spoke out in Fremont with some notable funding rounds focused on sensor/communication technologies.
What will 2015 hold for Cleantech and Fremont’s other prominent clusters? Stay tuned for our 2015 preview featuring projections from some of our favorite industry experts.
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Fremont’s niche within the Bay Area economy lands squarely on hardware, so over the coming months we will be exploring the hardware comeback that is unfolding in real time. We begin at the intersection of software and hardware with Tindie — an online port…
Fremont’s niche within the Bay Area economy lands squarely on hardware, so over the coming months we will be exploring the hardware comeback that is unfolding in real time. We begin at the intersection of software and hardware with Tindie — an online portal where makers (or indie hardware enthusiasts) can sell their products.
We recently met up with Tindie Founder and CEO Emile Petrone and asked him to tell us what Tindie is up to.
1. What was the inspiration for Tindie?
It was somewhat serendipitous — I was a software engineer and I had some free time. In all seriousness, I came up with Tindie when I started seeing huge momentum in the growth of DIY electronics. It was getting easier and easier to be a “maker,” and things were really starting to take off, with tools like Raspberry Pi and Arduino becoming available. My question was, “Where do people sell the stuff they make?” I realized that a cultural shift was starting, and I wanted to contribute — I needed to facilitate the development of this community. So I posted on Reddit, asking if people would be interested in an online marketplace for indie hardware projects. The response was extremely positive, and the rest is history.
2. You’ve achieved some pretty impressive stats in a relatively short amount of time. Talk about those and what are you most proud of.
Tindie is the largest hardware marketplace online by a long shot, with more than 800 companies using the site and over 3,700 products listed. What I’m most proud of is how much purchase activity comes from legitimate corporate R&D labs — it just shows that our makers are producing very specialized, highly sought-after products. What may be most surprising to people is that nearly all of our sales activity comes through word-of-mouth advertising. And to think — this industry is still in its infancy and is changing very quickly. We foresee exponential growth opportunity.
3. What do you see as the biggest challenge for hardware startups as they try to scale?
The biggest challenge these companies face is designing for manufacturability at a reasonable cost. The iterations of product development required to hit the right price point in production can be significant, and hardware startups rely on developing early partnerships with manufacturers to get this right. To that end, finding the right manufacturer is also critical. Let’s just say you can’t find a manufacturer like you can a Papa John’s pizza store! Today, many manufacturers are not focused on the small startups. However with the rapid growth in this sector, we think this is a good opportunity to connect makers with local manufacturers.
4. What’s next for Tindie?
Over the next year, we will be working on helping our sellers find local manufacturers, as I’ve already mentioned. We are also interested in helping sellers’ post product descriptions that are not overly technical. Not all of the products listed on Tindie are made “by engineers for engineers.” The average consumer needs to understand the product descriptions and relate it to the sales pitch. We have actually created a non-technical customer service function to assist with this goal. We will also continue to hire additional engineers, so contact us if you are interested in joining.
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We recently visited the Mission Valley Regional Occupation Program campus in Fremont to understand how the ROP partners with local companies. James Briano and Jim Omlid gave us the full tour and explained the mission of the ROP and why we should care abou…
We recently visited the Mission Valley Regional Occupation Program campus in Fremont to understand how the ROP partners with local companies. James Briano and Jim Omlid gave us the full tour and explained the mission of the ROP and why we should care about it. They stressed that
But what does MVROP really do, and what about the young people who attend? The ROP provides rigorous elective program classes that complement the regular curriculum of New Haven, Newark and Fremont Unified School Districts. To better understand the ROP, let’s explore its offerings:
From skilled medical technicians and medical assistants to construction workers, equipment operators, and automotive technicians, our economy needs trained individuals for these important, well-paying occupations. With Fremont’s strong manufacturing base, companies such as Tesla, Bay Area Circuits, Cal Weld, AlterG, Plexus, Car West Auto Body, Lam Research, and Nestor have all benefited from the many skilled workers emerging from MVROP’s programs. Solar PV companies such as PetersenDean Roofing have also seen great value and now contribute significantly to the school’s instructional content. Public sector and healthcare agencies are big beneficiaries and recognize the important role that MVROP plays in preparing the next generation and helping the local economy to thrive.
When it comes to the critical topic of workforce and hiring needs, ROP programs cannot be underestimated in their value. If your business is interested in partnering with MVROP to influence curriculum and attract skilled workers, you can call them at 510-567-1865.
An example of a construction project for residential construction.Read less x
At this year’s WEST (Water, Energy, Smart Technologies) Summit, an event created by Sustainable Silicon Valley last week in Palo Alto. The keynote speaker, Rex Parris, Mayor of the City of Lancaster, California, challenged attendees to combat the effects…
At this year’s WEST (Water, Energy, Smart Technologies) Summit, an event created by Sustainable Silicon Valley last week in Palo Alto. The keynote speaker, Rex Parris, Mayor of the City of Lancaster, California, challenged attendees to combat the effects of climate change by taking action. Mayor Parris used his southern, gentle but serious, style to persuade the City of Lancaster, a community outside of Los Angeles to generate solar power on every roof top.
Under his leadership, the City of Lancaster created policies and incentives requiring solar installation for new home construction. KB Homes, a national residential developer, was the pilot case-study. KB Homes installed a 1kW solar system on all new home development. Why that size? The answer is simple. Regardless of other factors, every house can generate savings from their energy bill with a 1kW solar system. While the cost for a 1kW is minimal, often times it sparks a conversation between the buyer and the builder, which can lead to a larger and more optimal system. KB Homes’ positive experience with the City of Lancaster redefines their business model for sustainable construction nationally.
With a strong sustainability policy and long-term vision, the City of Lancaster transformed itself from a non-descript suburban city outside of Los Angeles to a Net Energy Positive City in three years. What does a Net Energy Positive City mean? It means Lancaster will generate more power from renewable sources (mostly solar) than it consumes. Mayor Parris demonstrated that local governments can take the lead to change land-use, water, energy, and transportation policies towards a more sustainable future.
Building on this success story, recently Lancaster got some more good news in October. BYD Motors, an electric bus manufacturer, announced that they would open a large manufacturing facility in Lancaster. Each 60 foot articulated electric bus can carry 120 passengers over 170 miles on a full charge. That is more than enough for the electric buses to complete a round-trip commute from Lancaster to downtown Los Angeles. Lancaster residents are producing energy at home and helping to reduce pollution at work.
While Lancaster is a model for action oriented local policies, each city has to chart its own path on its journey towards long-term environmental and economic sustainability. You can see Fremont’s journey to sustainability here
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Greening your business often relates to increasing revenues. But, in this case we’re focused on how companies are incorporating sustainable operational practices. Last month, eight Fremont businesses were recognized by the City Council for their commitme…
Greening your business often relates to increasing revenues. But, in this case we’re focused on how companies are incorporating sustainable operational practices.
Last month, eight Fremont businesses were recognized by the City Council for their commitment to the environment and the community by earning a Bay Area Green Business Certification.
Companies ranged from larger manufacturing operations such as Organic Spices, to retail stores such as REI and recycling operator-Surplus Service.
Congratulations to the following Fremont companies on their commitment to being a green-friendly businesses: Amfasoft Corporation, Best Graphic Image, Green Leaf Cleaners, Maid to Order, Organic Spices, Inc., Pacific Green Funding, REI, and Surplus Service
These businesses join sixteen other Fremont companies previously certified as Bay Area Green Businesses. To qualify, businesses must show tangible commitment to reduce waste, save energy and water and implement pollution prevention measures. Examples include installing energy efficient lights, water-efficient toilets, recycling content paper, and using safer cleaning products to protect the creeks and the bay.
When asked why a business should pursue a Green Business Certification, Lou Ramondetta, the CEO of Surplus Service’s an electronics recycler said “not everyone is necessarily green sensitive, but it helps that we are a [certified] green business with what we are doing or marketing.” This is because customers increasingly want to know that they are buying from businesses that care about the environment.
Spreading the word about the Bay Area Green Business Program aligns with the City’s Climate Action plan to reduce waste diversion and decrease the carbon footprint. Going green helps the climate, and sustainable operations help companies use facilities, capital, and resources in the most efficient manner. Ultimately, going green helps the planet, and greens your pockets too!
If you are a Fremont Business interested in becoming a Bay Area Green Business, please contact Lori Marra email@example.com or 510-494-4581. To find out more information about Fremont’s Green Businesses Program visit us online at www.Fremont.gov/GreenBusiness.Read less x
Continuing the “Our Favorite Blogs” series, this latest installment takes a look at valuable insights about manufacturing. It is a vast topic, covering everything from product development to reshoring and growth trends. We enjoy following and reading thes…
Continuing the “Our Favorite Blogs” series, this latest installment takes a look at valuable insights about manufacturing. It is a vast topic, covering everything from product development to reshoring and growth trends. We enjoy following and reading these blogs and hope you will too.
This blog comes from the Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP). MEPs across the country help manufacturers grow their businesses through development of products, building partnerships, and reaching new customers all with the goal of increasing profit for manufacturing output. Bloggers discuss key issues affecting U.S. manufacturers such as workforce and reshoring.
Manufacturing.net is an on-line news site with the latest information, opinions, and trends around the world related to manufacturing. The site has great articles and videos related to manufacturing, covering everything from development production to public policy.
One of the 60 MEP centers, CMTC’s blog tagline is “We succeed because you do.” The tagline perfectly describes CMTC’s mission to help small to medium-sized manufacturers grow their business in Southern California. The blog caters to this audience, and their website has a cool infographic on California’s manufacturing industry.
ThomasNet is an information and technology resource company focused on the manufacturing industry. ThomasNet’s articles on manufacturing have a broad scope from workforce development issues to optimizing business marketing.
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While emotions run high in the aftermath of an election, we are doing our own “happy dance” in Fremont with the passage of Alameda County Measure BB. Why, you ask? You know that we have big plans in Fremont for strategically urban growth, which depends on…
While emotions run high in the aftermath of an election, we are doing our own “happy dance” in Fremont with the passage of Alameda County Measure BB. Why, you ask? You know that we have big plans in Fremont for strategically urban growth, which depends on infrastructure funding to leverage transit. Enter Measure BB.
This ballot measure augments and extends the existing half-cent transportation sales tax by another half-cent through March 31, 2045. Recognizing that transportation needs, technology, and circumstances change over time, the policy document that guides this sales tax allocation spans 30 years, programming nearly $8 billion in new transportation funding. At a high level, the funding will:
Several other projects included in the plan benefit the City significantly. These include local freeway and interchange improvements, Capitol Corridor improvements, and increased operating funds to enhance AC Transit bus service.
In addition, the plan includes additional funding for programs with funding automatically passed on to the cities. This means an 80 percent increase in our local street and road funding and bicycle/pedestrian funding. The City’s paratransit funds will increase by almost 90 percent.
As we continue to position Fremont as a choice location for business, Measure BB provides the funding required to facilitate the job growth we anticipate from an infrastructure perspective. With the region’s current surge in employment, and the related traffic congestion, this should come as welcome news to Fremont companies, and we hope it will be an important consideration as they grow and expand.Read less x
For small and medium-sized businesses looking to expand, the U.S. Small Business Administration’s 504 loan program can help. Established in 1980, SBA 504 loans can be used to buy, build or improve owner-occupied commercial real estate or to fund other maj…
For small and medium-sized businesses looking to expand, the U.S. Small Business Administration’s 504 loan program can help. Established in 1980, SBA 504 loans can be used to buy, build or improve owner-occupied commercial real estate or to fund other major fixed assets, such as equipment. In addition to the benefits of moving from tenant to owner, SBA 504 loans allow down payments as low as 10%, so business owners can maintain liquidity and preserve working capital for reinvestment and job creation. The below-market, fixed rates and long repayment terms can help improve cash flow. In short, the less a business spends on occupancy costs and debt, the more capital is available for business expansion.
SBA 504 loans typically have three participants: a bank provides a first trust deed loan for at least 50% of the total project cost, the small business owner contributes at least 10% and a Certified Development Corporation provides the SBA-guaranteed loan for the remainder, up to 40% of the total project cost. The CDC maximum is $5 million ($5.5 million for manufacturing and qualifying “green” projects), but there is no maximum on the total project cost.
TMC Financing, the leading CDC in Northern California for more than a decade, has been highly active in helping small businesses throughout Fremont. Recently TMC helped wholesale-furniture-maker Homelegance, Inc. improve operational efficiencies with the purchase of a 255,000-square-foot warehouse in Fremont. The owners were able to finance the replacement location with a $20.8 million total loan package. Homelegance only had to put in a 12% down payment for the purchase of the property. With the new facility, the manufacturer is able to expand operations and expects to create and retain more than 45 local jobs.
Fremont-based internet services provider Hurricane Electric is in the midst of its third deal with TMC Financing, securing nearly $13 million for a 24,000-square-foot expansion of its existing Fremont 2 data center. In total, TMC, the SBA and Bank of the West have helped Hurricane Electric, which operates the world’s largest IPv6 native Internet backbone, access more than $66 million in commercial real estate financing.
TMC Financing and the SBA 504 program are designed to spur job creation and expand lending to women, minorities and veterans, as well as to boost U.S. manufacturing and rural/underserved area development. In the past five years, TMC has assisted 24 Fremont businesses with SBA financing totaling nearly $120 million, creating and retaining more than 200 jobs.
Funds can also be used to assist businesses in “going green” through LEED-certified buildings, reducing energy consumption or generating renewable energy. To learn more about the advantages of the SBA 504 loan program for your business, visit tmcfinancing.com.
Homelegance, Inc. purchased this 255,000-square-foot warehouse at 47550 Kato Road in Fremont using an SBA 504 loan from TMC Financing.Read less x
Last Monday, the White House announced several executive actions to further support U.S. manufacturing and issued a corresponding report. In the wake of this announcement, many are weighing in on where things currently stand — given the President’s origin…
Last Monday, the White House announced several executive actions to further support U.S. manufacturing and issued a corresponding report. In the wake of this announcement, many are weighing in on where things currently stand — given the President’s original pledge to create 1 million new manufacturing jobs by the end of 2016. According to an article by Meagan Clark of International Business Times titled Obama Administration’s Plans To Boost Manufacturing Have A Long Way To Go — (the title says it all — there is still a long way to go), the President himself recently announced new plans to reach the goal:
“President Obama’s plan announced Monday to strengthen U.S. manufacturing hopes to create jobs, but the effort won't generate nearly enough to replace the more than 6 million positions that disappeared in the last decade and a half. The White House said NASA and the departments of Defense, Energy and Agriculture will invest more than $300 million in emerging technologies like bio-based materials and advanced sensors for manufacturing.”
“As part of the effort, National Science Foundation will establish two manufacturing research hubs, the U.S. Department of Labor will launch a $100 million competition to award grants and fund apprenticeships in advanced manufacturing and the Department of Commerce will launch a $130 million competition to help small manufacturers adopt advanced technology.”
As our long-time followers know, the City of Fremont is a BIG supporter of manufacturing, and we applaud the continued action taken by the Federal Government. Investments in emerging technologies and advanced manufacturing are sure to aid in the overall job creation effort and will help individual cities, like Fremont, to do their part in adding to the manufacturing numbers. With nearly 900 manufacturing companies in Fremont, this makes up 23 percent of our workforce — far higher than the national average.
Clark’s article even acknowledges that “after contracting sharply, U.S. manufacturing remains a world leader, second only to China in the total dollar value of goods produced. Unlike the low-end goods with thin profit margins manufactured in China, the expensive and complicated products made in American factories, like medical equipment and commercial aircraft, require specialized skills.”
With advanced manufacturing at the core of our Innovation District strategy, Fremont has a lot riding on the continued growth in production of highly customized, I.P.-intensive products. Customer demand will ultimately determine the market for these products. But funding resources like those just announced — directed at the broader manufacturing ecosystem, including workforce and supply chain networks — will only help ensure they are made in the USA.Read less x
Secretly, you may want to add a few years to the projected completion date of a complex construction project, to help account for potential delays. But this was not the case for the construction of the new 275,000-square-foot Thermo Fisher Scientific Nich…
Secretly, you may want to add a few years to the projected completion date of a complex construction project, to help account for potential delays. But this was not the case for the construction of the new 275,000-square-foot Thermo Fisher Scientific Niche Diagnostics Center of Excellence. A little over two years after project design began, a sustainable and large-scale research and development (R&D) building now stands just south of Tesla Motors. We at Landtech Consultants (the Thermo Fisher project civil and structural engineers) couldn’t be happier.
The Team Players and Timeline
The project presented significant challenges, including complicated infrastructure demands that required major public works improvements. However, the City of Fremont staff and other public and utility agencies helped us meet the completion time-frame goals of the developer, Geis Companies, and ultimately, of Thermo Fisher Scientific.
Project design began in April of 2012, and the initial application was submitted to the City a month later. After successive phases of permit approval, the project broke ground in March of 2013. A whirlwind of construction followed, first of the building shell, and then of all the intricate interior and facility components. Finally, at the end of August 2014, the facility was turned over to Thermo Fisher.
We found a few civil and structural engineering features of the project significant:
Building Site: Minimizing Seismic Liquefaction Risk
The project site lies within zones designated by the State Geologist to contain seismic liquefaction risks. Therefore, significant site preparation was conducted for the building to be founded on suitable ground. The site was excavated, graded, and filled with a 5.5-foot-thick lime-treated soil layer that is present underneath the building foundation. This creates a raft-like structure that works with the building structural foundation and is designed to bridge over possible liquefaction pockets that could occur in an earthquake. Overall, about 200,000 cubic yards of soil had to be moved and graded to accommodate the project.
Building Structure: Special Steel Frames for Seismic Resistance
The steel building frame is clad with exterior concrete walls, and special steel frame systems are integrated within the building. Elements within these braced frames are designed to absorb earthquake forces and dissipate seismic energy. Additionally, innovative special truss moment frames are used in the office wing of the building to allow for an open-space design. Overall, the building contains about 2,500 tons of steel and 14,000 cubic yards of concrete.
Infrastructure Demand: Looped Water System for Fire Safety
The existing water service to the site was woefully inadequate and presented a fire service safety issue. The closest water source was a “dead end” connection, one-half of a mile away on Kato Road at the southern tip of the Tesla property. In order to provide adequate fire service safety, a looped water system was constructed to join the “dead end” connection from the south up along Kato Rd and across highway 880 to a looped water main on Landing Parkway. Of the total 3000-plus feet of pipe that were required, about 400 feet had to be installed in a bored steel casing about 14 feet below the level of the freeway pavement.
Storm Water Quality: Pioneering State-of-the-art Measures
This is a flagship project for meeting new storm water quality requirements. On this project, all drainage is directed to large bioretention gardens that allow treatment of the water organically, filtering into special soils and out through perforated pipes into the storm drainage system. With such a large building, the roof drainage is directed into a specially designed metering weir system that limits the volume of the peak flow for larger storms into the bioretention areas.
Fremont is showing the rest of the Bay Area that it knows how to get commercial construction projects done — -sustainably and safely. This project is a welcome addition to the Warm Springs Innovation District. It was a privilege to have worked with top-tier public and private partners to master this complex project.
Below are photos of the cafeteria and lobby.
Kamal Obeid, SE, P.E., is a California licensed Civil and Structural Engineer. he served as the project engineer, civil and structural engineer of record for the Thermo Fisher project. He has been a practicing engineer on building projects in California for 34 years. Kamal can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sonia Easaw is the Marketing Coordinator for Landtech Consultants.
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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.