Jeff Schwob
Community Development Director

For some time you’ve likely been hearing about Warm Springs/South Fremont as a significant regional opportunity for employment-focused, transit-oriented development. (If you haven’t, you should catch up; if you have, then keep reading!) Recently, our clos…

For some time you’ve likely been hearing about Warm Springs/South Fremont as a significant regional opportunity for employment-focused, transit-oriented development. (If you haven’t, you should catch up; if you have, then keep reading!) Recently, our close look at the Brookings Institute research on Innovation Districts revealed that Warm Springs clearly fits the bill for an Innovative District and has the potential to be a cutting-edge, national example of how diverse users mix and mingle, resulting in the elusive concept of innovation. 

Peel back the layers of any Innovation District, and you realize that it doesn’t just occur on its own. It takes a literal plan — a creative, thoughtful document that serves as the roadmap and policy guide for how the area grows and evolves over time. And last night, the Fremont City Council approved the Warm Springs/South Fremont Community Plan, marking a significant milestone for this development. 

As I presented the plan, I made sure to highlight its particularly unique attributes, including its transit focus, unique land use flexibility, vision for an exciting and dynamic public realm, and incorporation of sustainable design. I hope you take a few minutes to check out an abbreviated version of the presentation below, which includes just some of my favorite components.  

 

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Category: Warm Springs



Rachel DiFranco
Sustainability Coordinator

Fremont ranked high in a recent funding opportunity issued by the California Energy Commission, with both the City of Fremont (under the Bay Area Charge Ahead Project) and the Fremont Chamber of Commerce on the proposed notice of award list for the instal…

Fremont ranked high in a recent funding opportunity issued by the California Energy Commission, with both the City of Fremont (under the Bay Area Charge Ahead Project) and the Fremont Chamber of Commerce on the proposed notice of award list for the installation of publicly accessible electric vehicle (EV) infrastructure. With only one Level 1, 25 Level 2, and 12 DC fast charging ports currently available to the public in Fremont, these two funding awards will more than double the number of Level 2 stations and increase the total number of publicly accessible EV chargers in Fremont to 72 ports.

Under the Bay Area Charge Ahead Project (BayCAP)—a consortium led by the Bay Area Climate Collaborative in collaboration with ChargePoint, ABM, the EV Communities Alliance—the City of Fremont will receive a total of eight publicly accessible, dual-port Level 2 electric vehicle chargers. Six of these chargers will be installed at angled parking spaces along three separate blocks of Capitol Avenue as part of the Capitol Avenue Extension project in Downtown Fremont. Another charger will be placed at the City’s Development Services Center, whose Permitting Department attracts many daily visitors. The last charger will be placed at the Boathouse in Fremont’s Central Park, which is the most heavily used park in the city. These eight publicly accessible EV chargers with 16 ports coming to the City of Fremont are only a small portion of the total 66 EV charging stations with 152 ports to be deployed across 19 agencies in the Bay Area under BayCAP. Over the next 10 years, the infrastructure supported by BayCAP is projected to result in net reductions of 10 million kilograms of CO2 compared to the global warming pollution of regular gas vehicles.

In addition to the funding coming to the City of Fremont under BayCAP, the Fremont Chamber of Commerce is negotiating its own CEC award that would fund the installation of six dual-port Level 2 and two dual-port DC fast chargers at Fremont’s Bayside Business Park along the I-880 corridor. To showcase their plans for these publicly accessible workplace chargers and demonstrate the benefits of EVs to the community-at-large, the Fremont Chamber of Commerce plans to set up an EV display at this year’s Fremont Festival of the Arts on August 2 and 3. They will display several different EVs (including a Tesla) as well as demo EV charging stations.

On August 9 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Fremont residents will have another opportunity to view and even get behind the wheel of electric vehicles at “Experience Electric – The Better Ride,” a free public event at the Pacific Commons shopping center at the corner of Christy and Curie streets. Event participants can test-drive the newest EVs on the market in a hassle-free, no sales environment. This event is offered by the City of Fremont in partnership with the California Center for Sustainable Energy (CCSE), Charge Across Town, and Plug In America with funding from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC). Interested individuals can visit www.Facebook.com/TheBetterRide for more information.

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The Bay Area currently has nearly 40 percent of the plug-in electric vehicles in California at around 25,000 vehicles. With nearly 1,600 of those vehicles owned by Fremont residents, Fremont is responsible for 30 percent of all of the electric vehicles in Alameda County. In fact, Fremont’s 94539 zip code has been issued more EV rebates than any other single zip code in California! Supporting electric vehicle infrastructure is one key way that Fremont is facilitating the adoption of cleaner methods of transportation, helping to achieve the stringent community-wide GHG emissions reduction goal of 25 percent by the year 2020. 

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Category: Fremont

The Economics of Energy Savings – Fremont as a Case Study



Martha Amram
CEO of WattzOn

It seems that we are finally seeing a shift in the long-held view that economic development and sustainability goals are mutually exclusive. At WattzOn, we’ve been asking the question: “What if energy savings programs were directly tied to economic develo…

It seems that we are finally seeing a shift in the long-held view that economic development and sustainability goals are mutually exclusive. At WattzOn, we’ve been asking the question: “What if energy savings programs were directly tied to economic development in local communities?” We believe that these programs are an untapped source of economic activity for cities, big or small. When residents save energy, they save money and in turn spend it locally, adding a potentially powerful boost to the economy. 

We recently completed an analysis of the impact of energy savings on the local economy, using the city of Fremont, California, as a case study and presented our work at the Silicon Valley Leadership Group’s Energy/Sustainability Summit. Fremont was selected as the initial case study because of the city’s innovative approach to its sustainability goals. (See posts on this blog for more information.)

The results of our analysis were fascinating. And more importantly, it became clear that the same methodology can be applied to cities across the United States. We’re sharing our results to encourage other communities to explore energy savings programs, as they may lead to similar economic outcomes. 

Key Findings:

  • Even a modest amount of residential energy savings generates a significant amount of local retail spending and could create hundreds of local jobs.
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  • Spending on utilities and gasoline is significant, and these payments are sent out of local communities, creating a cash outflow.  In Fremont’s case, a mix of local purchases and habit changes achieve a 5 percent energy savings, resulting in a second one-time boost from the sales of cars, solar, and appliances.  

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  • In Fremont’s case, a mix of local purchases and habit changes achieve a 5 percent energy savings, resulting in a second one-time boost from the sales of cars, solar, and appliances.  
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About WattzOn:

WattzOn provides Web and mobile tools that help communities and individuals to save energy and money. By combining advanced technology, behavioral science, and powerful data/analytics, WattzOn engages residents and delivers energy savings results. Our software-only solution has been used in 18 locations across the United States. Please contact us at info@wattzon.com.

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Category: Fremont



Kelly Kline
Economic Development Director

The Urban Land Institute recently convened in Detroit for an in-depth look at the evolving nature of the Public Private Partnership (3PL). This proved to be an interesting time to examine Detroit’s budding renaissance, which is due in large part to its pr…

The Urban Land Institute recently convened in Detroit for an in-depth look at the evolving nature of the Public Private Partnership (3PL). This proved to be an interesting time to examine Detroit’s budding renaissance, which is due in large part to its private investors. One such investor is Dan Gilbert, CEO of Quicken Loans, who moved his 12,000 employee base into the downtown, and has since invested $1.3 billion in its buildings, parks, tech incubation, and elimination of blight.

Gilbert spoke to conference attendees about the motivation behind this historic investment, and what it has meant for his company. He admits that the initial announcement was met by silence from his employees, but the actual experience of working in an urban core has turned out to be significantly more gratifying than the office park. The power of inserting a young and committed workforce into the downtown has created a de facto urban renewal program. “And we are just getting started,” said Gilbert.

While the media continues to focus on what Gilbert calls “ruin porn,” he’s focused on the new images of Detroit. “There is no bigger gap than between perception and reality.” As a Detroit native, Gilbert views his investment as an obligation — but not charity. “We are a better company because of the collaboration that is possible in an urban setting.” 

Gilbert blames “Detroit’s decade-long calamity” on suburbanization — the spreading out of the city. The spread contributed to a lack of cohesion among business leaders, until now. Others have stepped forward — everyone from General Motors to the Kresge Foundation in an all-out effort to take the city back from blight and crime. Blight is in fact Gilbert’s next target — his so-called Marshall Plan. In an unprecedented effort, he has used his company’s technology to harness 24 public agency databases in an attempt to categorize every blighted property in the city. “Downtown can’t be healthy unless the surrounding neighborhoods are healthy.” He has created “Detroit Future City” to plan for future uses of vacant sites.

Gilbert sees Detroit’s bankruptcy as a positive milestone. “Vagueness is the enemy. Once you have clarity on the problem, you can tackle it.” And true to this statement, now that bankruptcy has been filed, investors are pouring in. Gilbert said that he has no need to chase money. “If you build things of quality, money will follow.”

Gilbert joked that the government pledge should be to first, “do no harm” and second, “be a partner.” For city governments, it’s about creating good conditions. He credits Detroit’s competent city government as a contributor to recent successes, and a new mayor that is “noble, with good intentions.” 

Gilbert is optimistic about Detroit’s future. He predicts that in five years the City will exceed everyone’s wildest expectations. In the meantime, he has 1,000 interns from 200 colleges spending the summer in Detroit. Culled from 21,000 applications, the interns will be working on various initiatives. 

If you don’t believe Dan Gilbert, take it from Kid Rock. The former rapper narrated this Opportunity Detroit video which embodies the hope, resolve, and resilience of the Motor City.

“What does opportunity look like? Not what you might think. Opportunity is not a right. It doesn’t come with an instruction manual. Opportunity isn’t found. It’s molded. It’s built. It’s created ...”

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Category: Fremont



Jennifer Chen
Economic Development Coordinator

Economic Development is focused on creating a vibrant community with sustainable, long-term, healthy, economic growth. The City of Fremont’s Economic Development team accomplishes this with a robust business retention and expansion work plan. We've mentio…

Economic Development is focused on creating a vibrant community with sustainable, long-term, healthy, economic growth. The City of Fremont’s Economic Development team accomplishes this with a robust business retention and expansion work plan. We've mentioned before that 43% of new jobs come from the expansion of existing companies. That’s why we make it a priority to routinely visit Fremont-based companies to get a good feel for their immediate, near-term and long-term needs.

This year we expanded our business appreciation visits to include neighborhood businesses districts, allowing us to triple the number of total visits from 40+ to 150 -- the vast majority being first-time visits. Along the way we've collected stories and personal anecdotes that will help us refine our ongoing strategy and understanding of the local business climate, supply chain relationships and industry trends. Here are four observations from this year's crop.

1.  Fremont's manufacturing supply chain is robust, and is becoming more so thanks to anchor companies such as Tesla.  For example, a mile from Tesla’s manufacturing floor, Asteelflash, a global EMS, had the depth of experience and interest to co-produce circuit boards with Tesla. The proximity made it easy for Tesla and Asteelflash’s engineering teams to collaborate and develop the circuit boards. The end result was reduction in production time and a stronger local supply chain. In May 2013, Asteelflash celebrated a major milestone, the delivery of 1 million printed circuit boards to Tesla.

2.  2014 is the year of "energy storage" and Fremont cleantech companies are leading the way.  In the age of smart grids and increased renewable energy generation is a primary focus of the energy discussion.  Local cleantech companies like Enovix, Imergy, Tenergy and Leyden are exploring new paradigms for lithium-ion batteries, mirco-grid energy storage, energy R&D, and alkaline battery storage. What we love is that this cluster has the potential to provide Fremont’s advanced manufacturers with access to reliable and local clean energy solutions.

3.  Fremont’s Lifesciences companies are changing drug delivery systems, producing new innovative medical devices, and going public! For example, Zyomyx is manufacturing an HIV testing device to help the treatment and spread of AIDS in Africa.  Last month, Ardelyx and Zosano filed initial public offerings to raise a combined $126 million dollars.  The two companies are manufacturing drugs to treat metabolic diseases and a needless patch for the delivery of insulin for diabetics respectively.

4.  Fremont is changing from a suburb to strategically urban.  Our business districts and downtown want more pedestrian traffic. After a few difficult years, Fremont’s small business districts have turned the corner from the recession and are seeking growth and adapting to new shopping patterns and service delivery models. Our business district visits revealed that our small businesses and larger companies want the amenities within walking distance. That is why small technology company SchmartBoard located their office in Centerville. They want to be in the heart of it all.

While these visits help us get a pulse read of the local economy, the ultimate goal is to continue dialogue and engage with businesses. During the meetings, we share information on Employment Training Panel Funds, Industrial Development Bond Funds, and other incentive programs.  Additionally, we provide linkages to various technical assistance organizations such as Manex, and the Alameda County Workforce Investment Board. Collectively, these programs can help companies reduce costs and gain efficiencies.

Our 2014-15 business appreciation efforts are already underway. To schedule your visit, contact Kim Marshall at Kmarshall@fremont.gov asteelflash_and_tesla.jpg

Asteelflash presenting a plaque to Tesla for to commemorate the 1 Million printed circuit board delivered to Tesla.

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Category: Fremont



Kelly Kline
Economic Development Director

“P3 is dead.” So declared the first moderator at the Urban Land Institute “Public Private Partnerships” conference in Detroit. There was a gasp from the audience. Had we flown across the country only to attend a wake? Actually, it turns out the so-called …

“P3 is dead.” So declared the first moderator at the Urban Land Institute “Public Private Partnerships” conference in Detroit. There was a gasp from the audience. Had we flown across the country only to attend a wake? Actually, it turns out the so-called “P3” has actually evolved into the “P5” — adding (Non-)Profit, Philanthropy, and People to the mainstay of Public and Private. Later, another panelist joked that it was really a “P27” — which emphasizes the complexity of urban development, and the idea that it takes a village to solidify a deal.

One myth that was debunked at the conference is that the P3 (I’ll refer to it as that for clarity) is not just for buildings. We heard about interesting projects throughout the country that focused on everything from river parks (Atlanta’s Beltline) to alley beautification (Mid-Town Detroit), to blight removal (Detroit and Cincinnati), to Detroit’s new M1 transit line, which began with a $100 million investment from philanthropy. However, it is especially true that public investment in buildings, whether they be theaters, train stations, hotels, or affordable housing units, can play a transformational role in leveraging millions of dollars in private investment.

Here are some interesting takeaways from several project presenters:

Atlanta Beltline: “It’s okay to report failure — it acknowledges that you need help and allows someone else to step forward.”

NYC’s Bryant Park: “The thirst for public space is so great, you don’t need the density of Manhattan to make it work.”

Detroit’s M1 Line: “Go Slow to Go Fast — it’s important to cultivate community buy-in.”

As a final note, there are two additional “P’s” that are relevant — I’m calling them the verb P’s (vs. the nouns) — and those would be Patience and Perseverance. This was reinforced by the final speaker, former U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. He lamented the nation’s aging infrastructure, and expressed that the best hope for fixing it is to tap into the vision and leadership happening at the local level.

But this won’t necessarily happen everywhere. “Only when communities come together does this work.” Prophetic words for Fremont as we embark on two large infrastructure projects that will redefine our jobs outlook, community gathering spaces, and civic pride.

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You can download the full presentation at http://ppp.uli.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/69/2014/06/Innovation_as_Leadership.pdf

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Category: Fremont



Patrick Dempsey
Manager, Strategic Engagements and State Programs, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

As the manufacturing economy rebounds, state-wide industry stakeholders are actively collaborating to bolster California’s position for continued success.  Recently, Bill Browne from Manex wrote a blog post about an East Bay consortium, which included Fr…

As the manufacturing economy rebounds, state-wide industry stakeholders are actively collaborating to bolster California’s position for continued success. 

Recently, Bill Browne from Manex wrote a blog post about an East Bay consortium, which included Fremont, to help secure a manufacturing hub designation from the Federal Economic Development Administration. Sadly, this application was not successful. However, our friends from Southern California, in a consortium that included Los Angeles and San Diego, combined forces for a successful bid to benefit their aeronautics industry. It would seem that such competitions would divide us. However, the commitment to sharing best practices is stronger than ever, as witnessed last week when the California Network for Manufacturing Innovation (CNMI) convened at the USC Price Center.

The conference began with California's outlook on manufacturing with a national and international context provided by Perry Wong, managing director of the Milken Institute. Wong noted that while the U.S. manufacturing rebound hasn’t registered on the international charts, it’s important to note that it took 20+ years to develop overseas supply chains. Those won’t unravel overnight. While U.S. production still looks modest in comparison to powerhouses like China, our labor costs are stable. In fact, Wong says that our real competitor is Germany, with whom we’re running neck-and-neck on manufacturing exports. And while California shows an overall decline in high-tech manufacturing, the gap is narrowing in terms of our state’s overall share of U.S. manufacturing establishments. As a final caution, Wong pointed out that California has fallen behind in its human capital investment (#20 in 2013 vs. #13 in 2008). This supports what we have all been hearing in terms of the importance of science, technology, engineering, and manufacturing (STEM).

Offering a more optimistic outlook was Dr. Irene Petrick of Penn State University whose research on the dynamic nature of manufacturing back to “artisan maker” is redefining the industry. Petrick explains that IT-driven design and production are shifting “economies of scale” to “economies of one.” All costs are now variable with the rise of 3D printers and other high-tech tools. As a result, design and production can now function as experimentation — moving from the paradigm of “problem solving” to “problem finding.”

It was great to hear from manufacturing companies across the state, including Larry Nichols from Nutek, who recently announced a new Fremont headquarters for his company. Nichols and his peers echoed similar sentiments regarding the importance of continued equipment investment, flexible regulations, and instilling the spirit of innovation in all employees.

Last but not least, everyone agreed that manufacturing is being undersold (if it is mentioned at all). We have much more work to do to better promote the industry as a vital, creative, and even disruptive force in the California economy.  

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As part of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) senior staff, Patrick Dempsey is leading efforts to position the Laboratory to best serve national efforts to stimulate the economy through advancements in science and technology. Patrick is working with California manufacturing interests to establish a network for manufacturing innovation that would leverage technologies being developed at the national laboratories to help improve American industry competitiveness.



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Category: Manufacturing



Christina Briggs
Economic Development Manager

The World Cup is not the only place where countries are coming together, all seeking the same prize. This week, countries, regions, and companies from across the globe flocked to California for the 2014 BIO International Convention, taking their best “sho…

The World Cup is not the only place where countries are coming together, all seeking the same prize. This week, countries, regions, and companies from across the globe flocked to California for the 2014 BIO International Convention, taking their best “shots” at scoring more biotechnology business. As a City with biotech/biomedical as its largest single cluster, there was no better place for us to be than in the middle of the trade show floor. The World Cup is not just a fun and well-timed analogy, but very applicable given the sea of international flags that blanketed the convention floor, with governments at all levels celebrating this industry. In fact, perhaps no other industry receives the amount of attention biotech does, given that it links industry, government, research/academia, and finance.

And then, of course, there is the economic impact. California exemplifies this point more than most places do. Dubbed as the birthplace of biotech, California was on full display at BIO. Kish Rajan, director of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, opened the California Pavilion with a rousing talk, expressing the state’s commitment to stimulating biotech growth. He highlighted the implementation of policies that are making the case for biotech business even better, such as the new sales tax exemption, tax credits, and inspection streamlining. He also emphasized the State’s efforts to grow international trade relationships, using the opportunity to sign an MOU with Israel right there at the convention!

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MOU signing between State of California and State of Israel

We also heard from California-based biotech CEOs about why biotech manufacturing is on the rise at “Made in California.” This was right up our alley, not only because most of Fremont's biotech/biomedical companies have manufacturing operations, but also because Fremont-based biotech contract manufacturer Boehringer Ingelheim's Michael Howaldt was a member of this group. As head of one of the company’s most cutting-edge manufacturing facilities in the United States, Howaldt explained the Fremont site’s proficiency in three categories: “state-of-the-art services, technology know-how, and a great place to work.” He also stressed the importance of collaborations available in the Bay Area with premier universities and industry networks like BayBio and the East Bay Biomedical Manufacturing Network

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 Michael Howaldt (left) discusses Boehringer Ingelheim’s Fremont manufacturing facility.

As if all this activity werenst exciting enough, the 2014 California Economic Impact and Talent Integration Reports were unveiled and presented by BayBio, Biocom, and the East Bay Biomedical Manufacturing Network. There is no doubt that bio is experiencing a boom and California is leading the way, bringing more treatments to patients than any other state. California also led with biotech IPOs (23 in the last two years), adding to what is already a $258 billion industry here. As an active member of the East Bay Biomedical Manufacturing Network, we were particularly interested in Dr. Gregory Theyel’s research on life science workforce trends. The key takeaways included an analysis of who is hiring and what their needs are, a close look at the trending demand for integrated skills, and action items for all biotech stakeholders to pursue “in order to develop the talent needed to meet the industry's new challenges and opportunities.”

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 Biotech’s staggering impact on CA economy

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Alameda County boasts more STEM completions that anywhere else in Northern CA, with nearly half!

If the recent successful IPO from Ardelyx and pending IPO of Zosano Pharma (both Fremont-based) are any indication, Fremont has much to gain from California’s bio boom. 

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Category: Biotechnology



Kelly Kline
Economic Development Director

On Monday, we dove into the new Innovation District report from the Brookings Institute authored by Bruce Katz and Julie Wagner — specifically looking at the prototypes and forces that are shaping the new Innovation Districts. Today, we are diving even de…

On Monday, we dove into the new Innovation District report from the Brookings Institute authored by Bruce Katz and Julie Wagner — specifically looking at the prototypes and forces that are shaping the new Innovation Districts. Today, we are diving even deeper, looking at the fundamental assets that drive innovation growth.

Katz and Wagner say that all Innovation Districts have three categories of assets: economic assets, physical assets, and networking assets. And, when combined with a risk-taking culture, an “innovation ecosystem” is created. In Fremont, our economic assets (innovation companies) are well-known, thanks to Tesla, Lam Research, and others. In fact, the risk-taking culture is especially acute here based on Fremont’s “hardware” orientation that necessitates longer lead times to market, and lower margins resulting from the cost of manufacturing.

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However, Fremont’s physical and networking assets are works in progress. The Warm Springs plan calls for a number of infrastructure investments — including two bridges, pedestrian amenities, and a shuttle plan to knit together Fremont’s Innovation District. And from a networking perspective, new organizations such as the Silicon Valley Manufacturing Round Table and industry events such as the Clean Tech Open are helping to create stronger ties amongst our tech companies.

Katz and Wagner have assembled five strategies, or “best practices,” in creating Innovation Districts that reaffirm Fremont’s work so far. 


1.   Collaborative Leadership Network: Breathing life into Fremont’s Innovation District is a collaborative effort that is guided by its “FAST” committee (Fremont Advanced and Sustainable Technologies). This public/private partnership includes representation from multiple industries including technology, finance, education, and real estate.
2.   Vision for Growth: The FAST committee has a white paper that discusses its vision and goals. Like many other innovation districts, branding efforts are underway — everything from gateway signage, to backlinks and window decals!  

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We’ve honed our competitive advantage by thoroughly examining our key clusters. For example, Fremont’s cleantech industry represents all five parts of the Smart Grid Value Chain. Opportunities in these areas could total as much as $120B by 2017. And, by working with the East Bay BioMed Manufacturing Network, we were able to quantify Fremont’s life science strength — over 100 companies and a supply chain 4x the size, mostly concentrated in the medical device area.

Fremont has certainly suffered from a preponderance of 20th century development and related infrastructure. However, this heavy infrastructure has also translated into opportunity by allowing for BART connectivity, development density, and zoning flexibility. The Warm Springs Community Plan sets the stage.

3.  Pursue Talent and Technology: Our region has a unique platform from which to attract, retain, and grow talent. Our special niche in Fremont is sensor technology — developed by countless engineers in the semiconductor industry who have gone on to fuel growth in both the clean and biotechnology industries, as well as advanced manufacturing.

4.  Pursue Inclusive Growth: We are engaged in numerous efforts including the Bay Area Prosperity Plan, the Design It — Build It — Ship It  initiative, community college partnerships, and grant opportunities to help unemployed residents become engineering technicians. And while Fremont is already known for quality public schools, classroom space is at a premium. Plans for our Innovation District include a new elementary school that developers have agreed to fund. 

5.  Ensure Access to Capital: We don’t take private investment for granted. Fremont’s Prospectus positions and pitches the City’s vision for the future. On the public side, the City is leveraging its own land assets; at the federal level, prior EDA investment in Warm Springs will hopefully serve as a building block for future infrastructure grants.

 

Fremont and other cities across the nation from Chattanooga to Cambridge are embracing the Innovation District as a way to both seize opportunity and to correct errors of the past. The premise of “aligning with disruptive forces in the economy and leveraging their distinct economic position” is especially attractive and relevant. We are eager to continue the conversation, comparisons, and coop-itition that have been ignited by the Brookings Institute research on Innovation Districts.  


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Category: Fremont



Kelly Kline
Economic Development Director

It’s good to be ahead of the curve on an emerging trend — which is where Fremont finds itself just as a major new research paper has been released by the Brookings Institution related to Innovation Districts. The report validates the fact that Fremont’s I…

It’s good to be ahead of the curve on an emerging trend — which is where Fremont finds itself just as a major new research paper has been released by the Brookings Institution related to Innovation Districts. The report validates the fact that Fremont’s Innovation District in Warm Springs focuses on the essential assets needed to grow and thrive — namely, transportation, public realm, and density.

This topic is so meaty that we will be devoting two blog posts to explore the trend in greater depth. Part 1 takes a look at the prototypes and forces that are shaping the new Innovation Districts.

In the Brookings report, authors Bruce Katz and Julie Wagner define Innovation Districts as:

Geographic areas where leading-edge companies, research institutions, start-ups, and business incubators are located in dense proximity. These districts facilitate new connections and ideas, accelerate the commercialization of those ideas, and support metropolitan economies by growing jobs in ways that leverage their distinct economic position.

Katz and Wagner have identified three different prototypes for Innovation Districts:

  • “Anchor Plus” — found in Downtown/Mid-Town districts such as in Cambridge or Philadelphia with an anchor institution such as MIT or Drexel University.
  • Re-imagined Urban Areas” — industrial or warehouse districts undergoing physical and economic transformation powered by transit access and proximity to anchor companies.
  • “Urbanized Science Park” — such as the Research Triangle in North Carolina — traditional suburban R&D campus areas where isolated areas of innovation are experiencing densification.

We consider the Fremont Innovation District to fall under the Re-imagined Urban Area prototype, although our district clusters around an old railroad line instead of a historic waterfront. What we lack in historic buildings, we make up for in factory spaces that lend themselves to the flex space needed for advanced manufacturing. Our San Francisco neighbors, Mission Bay and Hunters Point, share this designation, although the BART access in Warm Springs is a distinguishing factor for Fremont. Our anchor companies — Tesla, Thermo Fisher Scientific, Seagate, Delta Products, Lam Research, and Western Digital — are collectively providing visibility and thousands of employees to spur district activity.

Many of the forces that Katz and Wagner identify are present in Fremont. For example:

Employment Density: Fremont’s largest share of workers (more than 20,000) are concentrated in its Innovation District. The exchange of ideas and supply chain connections are greatly enhanced by this proximity.

Open Innovation: Innovation Districts have “multi-channel R&D models” involving complex partnerships where collaboration trumps competition. In Fremont, the biotechnology company NDC produces its own products, is a leader in R&D, and also incubates synergistic companies under its own roof.

Extending Private Buildings into the Public Realm: The Tesla Factory in Fremont is pushing the envelope by reinventing its manufacturing facility as an extension of a tech campus – replacing guard stations with glass windows, and embracing the public who is now coming to the Fremont showroom to buy branded products, test drive, hook up to a super-charger, and more.

The end result of the convergence of these forces is better and more accessible jobs, more sustainable development, and hopefully, better balance sheets to ensure robust city services. And Fremont is ready to put its money where its mouth is. A hallmark of the Innovation District is local investment, and Fremont is no exception. Fremont knows it must generate and invest funds to promote innovation in order to secure its economic future.

On Wednesday, we will take a closer look at the fundamental assets driving innovation growth.

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About

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

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