Kim Marshall
Economic Development Specialist

While Fremont’s historic districts each have a unique identity, what they have in common are successful, family-owned, small businesses adding to the districts’ economic vibrancy of the city. Recently, we spoke with three of small-business entrepreneurs …

While Fremont’s historic districts each have a unique identity, what they have in common are successful, family-owned, small businesses adding to the districts’ economic vibrancy of the city.

Recently, we spoke with three of small-business entrepreneurs to hear their insights on what it takes to run a successful business.

Inkies Tattoo Studio Located in the Irvington District, owner, Robert Arquero works with a team of tattoo artists to provide skin art design services. When asked about the most important element of starting or running a successful business, Robert said it takes “great product, great service, and great environment.”

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Schmartboard Located in the Centerville District, Schmartboard’s Neal Greenberg, VP of Sales & Marketing, shared that they work with startups and multi-billion dollar corporations to design, fabricate, and assemble electronic circuits. Neal’s favorite marketing technique is to “entice potential customers to request a free sample (Schmartboard). Giving them a taste of something that solves a significant problem, with a reason to act now, is good marketing.”

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Iron Dog Antiques Located in the Niles District, owner Rae Steckler is passionate about the antique business.  According to Rae, “locally made, locally sourced, made in USA, upcyle, reuse, and recycle are the trends that my customers want.”  Keeping a pulse on these trends allows classic business concepts to stay fresh and current.

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In general, these entrepreneurs identify the following tips as keys to their success:

  • Prioritizing customer service
  • In depth knowledge of your product or industry.
  • Practice best-in-class content marketing strategies and plans including strong social media presence, ability to connect with potential customers 24/7, and word of mouth promotion.

Not only is starting a new business is daunting, but it’s also extremely rewarding. Our experts suggest speaking with other business owners in the industry in order to learn from them as best practice before setting out to start your own business. Then pay it forward by passing on your hard-earned knowledge to the next startup entrepreneur.

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Jennifer Chen
Economic Development Coordinator

After years of planning, Downtown Fremont is going vertical! On Friday, June 17, 2016, the City of Fremont celebrated the groundbreaking of Locale @ State Street, Downtown’s first mixed-use project, which was made possible through a public/private partner…

After years of planning, Downtown Fremont is going vertical! On Friday, June 17, 2016, the City of Fremont celebrated the groundbreaking of Locale @ State Street, Downtown’s first mixed-use project, which was made possible through a public/private partnership between the City of Fremont, TMG Partners, Sares Regis and SummerHill Homes.

The Locale @ State Street mixed-use project will span six acres and include 157 residential units, consisting of stacked flats and rowhomes. The community’s amenities will include outdoor spaces with barbecues, lush landscaping and seating areas for residents to gather, as well as a fitness studio and bike share program. The development will also include nearly 21,000 square feet of ground floor, street-front retail and restaurant space along Capitol Avenue.

The State Street groundbreaking ceremony was held on the new section of Capitol Avenue between Fremont Boulevard and State Street as residents and City staff alike gathered to witness history in the making. City Manager Fred Diaz kicked things off with a welcome speech, highlighting that since Fremont’s incorporation in 1956, the City has been seeking a central place to serve as its civic heart. Now, with construction on Locale @ State Street soon underway, we’re one step closer to giving Fremont residents the Downtown they’ve been waiting for.

Next, Fremont Mayor Bill Harrison and Katia Kamangar, executive vice president and managing director of SummerHill Homes, shared a few thoughts on how this project represents a giant leap forward for Fremont and its plans to build a strategically urban community. According to the Mayor, the City is envisioning a smart, sustainable Downtown, complete with electric vehicle charging stations, wide sidewalks for street side cafes, bike lanes, diagonal parking, solar-powered street lighting for outdoor events, and a whole lot more.

Ms. Kamanger noted that 20% of Summerhill’s portfolio is in Fremont, citing its strategic location and excellent schools.

After lots of cheers and applause, the celebrations continued into the evening with Fremont Street Eats, a gourmet food truck event produced by the Fremont Chamber of Commerce and Food Truck Mafia.

The State Street groundbreaking is a catalytic occasion for the City of Fremont, and a continuation in the development of a Downtown that will serve as the City’s social heartbeat - where people can live, work and shop, all in one central place. 

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Category: Downtown



Kim Marshall
Economic Development Specialist

Last month, the Brookings Institution published a report written by Scott Andes titled How Firms Learn.  In the report, Andes examined how companies innovate and what cities can do to foster greater innovation.  He analyzed the manufacturing sector and th…

Last month, the Brookings Institution published a report written by Scott Andes titled How Firms Learn.  In the report, Andes examined how companies innovate and what cities can do to foster greater innovation.  He analyzed the manufacturing sector and the software industry, which accounts for a large portion of the technology-based economy.  The report provided some interesting data. For example, did you know that over two-thirds of America’s R&D companies are focused on manufacturing and software?

The report identifies three models of industry innovation:  

1. Classic – The traditional, “classic” model is dependent on scientific breakthroughs and scientific expertise for advancement.  Companies are reliant on large institutions such as national laboratories, universities, military, and private investors for research and development.  In this model, scientific advancement on the higher-level creates opportunities for commercialization of the technology.

2. Unconventional – In the more atypical “unconventional” model, companies are both consumers and producers, and work collaboratively. Innovation occurs through cooperation among suppliers, manufacturers, and customers for technology breakthroughs.  Although innovation happens independent of scientific breakthroughs, in the unconventional model, the innovations are “less linear and sequential” and are “more incremental and adaptive.”

3. Mixed - This model combines both classic and unconventional innovation to advance innovation. 

Fremont is home to a variety of industries, including advanced manufacturing, life sciences, and cleantech.  Many of the companies in Fremont are in the classic and mixed innovation models.  For example, Lycean and Applied Spectra are companies that have spun out of the federal labs and universities.  In the mixed innovation model, contract manufacturers such as AsteelFlash are actively using a design build process to actualize new R&D concepts.  Additionally, the proximity of software companies to manufacturers allows for organic, active cross-fertilization of ideas, resulting in novel hardware products.  For these reasons, Fremont represents the software and hardware convergence in Silicon Valley.

How can the City nurture further collaboration? In addition to the city’s rich network of suppliers, customers, and investors to support advanced manufacturers, Fremont is working with regional partners such as the Manufacturing Roundtable, Silicon Valley Manufacturing Engineers (SME98) and the Silicon Valley Chamber (REDI) to provide a social network for innovation.  Additionally, the city promotes StartupGrind, a monthly networking group for entrepreneurs, to connect and learn from each other.

Finally, innovation does not happen in isolation.  Clustering of innovative companies is essential for long-term growth.  Fremont’s Warm Springs Community plan ensures that the Innovation District is set up to succeed. 

Future models may continue to evolve, so Fremont is committed to an innovation agenda that will help it to change and grow at the pace of business.

 

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A mixed innovation model.

Source: Brookings.com 

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Kelly Kline
Economic Development Director & Chief Innovation Officer

The mid-sized city transformation is underway. We see it every day in Fremont: new downtown amenities, the resurgence of manufacturing, a nimbleness that nurtures innovation within city hall and throughout the business community. This same transformation …

The mid-sized city transformation is underway. We see it every day in Fremont: new downtown amenities, the resurgence of manufacturing, a nimbleness that nurtures innovation within city hall and throughout the business community. This same transformation is taking place with America's "original" mid-sized cities: Akron, Allentown, and notably, Rochester, NY - host of a CityAge program last week examining the new urban economy.

The "Rochester Rebound" is an interesting case study. With a population of 210,000, Rochester is slightly smaller than Fremont, however it used to be much larger. At its peak in 1950 when Kodak, Xerox, and Bausch & Lomb were some of the biggest names in business, over 300,000 people called Rochester home. While all of these companies still have a presence in Rochester, it has shed its company town image and shifted its focus to building a more diverse array of manufacturing and technology businesses. For example, the former Kodak campus, is now Eastman Business Park and houses 64 different companies, including Kodak Inc.

Rochester benefits from its beautiful setting in the Finger Lakes region, and a legacy of corporate and educational investments. It boasts a strong university presence (University of Rochester and RIT) and the Eastman School of Music provides a cultural anchor with a 3,000 seat theater and music library. The challenges are significant too. Rochester has a staggering poverty rate of 33%* - among the highest in the top 75 major metropolitan areas in the nation, and a downtown that was abandoned for the suburbs like so many other U.S. boomtowns. 

But Rochester has come back swinging, receiving significant support from the State of New York and embracing an innovation agenda. Empire State Development Corporation CEO, Howard Zemsky talked about "Place Based Investment" to counter half-hazard strategies of the past that promoted sprawl and scattered infrastructure. But no longer. Density and equity are key themes moving forward.

New York State knows that they've lost a generation of manufacturing workers and will need to invest heavily in education and training to reverse that trend. Author Antoine van Agtmael, who previewed his latest "Smartest Cities" book on TSVE, provided an optimistic prediction that income equality will look much better in ten years. "Demographically, we've turned the corner," he said.

And while innovation themes focused on big data and transportation, there were some lively examples surrounding art and retail as innovation drivers. Case in point, "Retailent Rochester" an upstart effort to revitalize the historic St. Paul Quarter. The strategy started with a community "pub crawl" to generate ideas, followed by Shark Tank-style entrepreneurial pitches, and ultimately a panel-vetted winner who will receive one year of free rent and professional services.  As a result, you will soon be able to visit Split Batch Brewery (part coffee house, part brew pub) which exactly matches the community’s desired outcome.

But perhaps the most important sign that things are looking up in Rochester is a steaming pile of doggie doo. Rochester Downtown Development Corps President Heidi Zimmerman-Meyer recently stepped into such a mess and declared victory. Yes, the millennials have arrived with dogs in tow, and no further endorsement is needed that Rochester has arrived.

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Rochester Riverfront has trails for biking and running

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The historic "Sibley" building once home to a stately Downtown department store, is now a mixed use innovation incubator space.

 

*http://www.actrochester.org/poverty

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Q&A with Tony Huang, General Manager of Wellex Corporation



Tony Huang
General Manager, Wellex Corporation

As we continue our ongoing Q&A series with executives based in Fremont, we spoke with Tony Huang, General Manager of Wellex Corporation.  Follow along below and watch the short video about Wellex at the end of the questions. City of Fremont: Wellex h…

As we continue our ongoing Q&A series with executives based in Fremont, we spoke with Tony Huang, General Manager of Wellex Corporation.  Follow along below and watch the short video about Wellex at the end of the questions.

City of Fremont: Wellex has called Fremont home for over 30 years. Can you talk about why this location works for your business?

Tony Huang: Fremont works for Wellex for two main reasons, one being its ideal location. Fremont connects various parts of the San Francisco Bay Area, and the fact that about 70 percent of our corporate customers are in Silicon Valley makes it very convenient for product deliveries and pickups, as well as local meetings. In addition, we are now sandwiched between Highways 680 and 880 and minutes away from the brand new Warm Springs BART station, not to mention AC Transit bus stops.

The second reason is the affordability of living in the city of Fremont as compared to other cities in the East Bay, South Bay, and North Bay. About 20-30 percent of our staff are long-time employees who have lived close to the current Wellex location, as well as the original Grimmer location that we opened over 30 years ago.

Fremont: As a full-service electronics manufacturer, what is Wellex doing to stay competitive in a quickly changing industry?

TH: We’re staying competitive by emphasizing top-notch customer service. The key to this is the incredible amount of flexibility for customers. The company takes pride in learning with customers and following the latest technology. Also, Wellex provides design for manufacturability and test feedback for customers’ product development, which has proved to be of great value to clients. This helps customers eliminate any unexpected manufacturing issues after product launches. Additionally, we provide an extension of manufacturing services, which includes warehousing and reverse logistics. Last, but not least, by embracing Six Sigma and LEAN, Wellex’s continuous improvement program brings out cost competitiveness, which is the catalyst of the company’s competitive advantage over other full-service manufacturers in the fast-paced electronics industry.

Fremont: How does Wellex assure high quality for customers?

TH: Wellex has always been a quality-oriented company given its ISO certification and compliance with IPC610 quality standards. We ensure high quality to customers by developing a robust quality control plan for each product or project. This usually requires the optimization of the manufacturing processes followed by multiple inspections, tests, and QA audits. Wellex also considers the tracking of quality data very critical to error prevention. The corporation’s quality team analyzes and shares the data with the customer focus team members weekly so everyone is fully aware of the quality level for each customer and product. Of course, all of this is a direct result of Wellex’s consistent upgrades in technology process equipment and software as well as the company’s effective cross-training program.

Fremont: What technologies will be growth drivers for companies like Wellex in the next 2-5 years?

TH: While Wellex may not be able to compete with other larger ODM/CM competitors when it comes to technology that requires large capital and major resources, we can certainly focus on several specific areas in technology that are suitable for our size. An example would be green energy technology, which includes solar, LED, and power management. Other significant drivers of growth in the next 2-5 years include IoT (Internet of Thing) and Automotive Smart Car/Car Connected Solutions. This year, Wellex has started to work with IBM and Intel to promote IoT service support.

Fremont: Wellex is an important, and long-standing part of Fremont’s manufacturing ecosystem. What has remained the same, and what has changed?

TH: Throughout the company’s history, Wellex has made many changes to improve people skills, manufacturing technologies, quality, IT, and productivity given the nature of technology advancements. Wellex initially offered only PCB assembly service; now its services cover mechanical box build, system integration, logistics/reverse logistics, and off-shore manufacturing.

What has been set in stone since the beginning is the corporation’s exemplary customer service and on-time delivery. Because Wellex has succeeded in sustaining these main corporate pillars, other members of the Fremont manufacturing ecosystem have benefitted — especially the various startup companies that have drawn on our assembly and manufacturing services to help grow their businesses. 

 

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Jody Tatro
Chief Executive Officer

When we "Think Silicon Valley” it is about growing communities for business and prosperity.  One growing dynamic in the Bay Area is a focus on face-to-face events. Companies, healthcare providers, universities and many organizations want to reach their af…

When we "Think Silicon Valley” it is about growing communities for business and prosperity.  One growing dynamic in the Bay Area is a focus on face-to-face events. Companies, healthcare providers, universities and many organizations want to reach their affiliates, customers and partners and educate them in a more personal way. This helps build stronger business communities.  

At ProExhibits, we support this movement with a wide variety of face-to-face event marketing solutions. Our customers include a large diversity of industries, from biotech, to high tech, to manufacturers and even the food and dairy industry right here in California.  We design, manufacture and support marketing environments for events and trade shows, in addition to permanent solutions and mobile exhibits. Serving clients worldwide, our team utilizes their creative talents, vast resources and comprehensive knowledge to ensure each client’s success in overcoming today’s marketing challenges.

In 2014 we made an important choice to move ProExhibits’ corporate headquarters to Fremont. Having already been in the bay area for two decades, we are strong believers in the region’s advantages and wanted to continue to be a part of its many benefits. In Fremont we found our permanent home — the perfect building, with all of the space and transportation access we could want. 

From a strategic standpoint, Fremont is at the epicenter of the Silicon Valley, serving  as the region’s central anchor, midway between San Francisco/Oakland and San Jose .  With BART’s extension into Warm Springs (and further into Milpitas and North San Jose), this location provides better access for our 100 hard-working employees. But more importantly, it gives us much broader access to our customers, who often want to visit our elaborate showroom for inspiring new ideas on how to display and market their own products. 

In this digital age, our business reinforces that human interaction is still a critical driver in all industries.  We look forward to a successful future in our new Fremont home, where the Silicon Valley spirit is stronger than ever.

 

Two Fremont companies working together!

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Category: Manufacturing



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

Where better to completely reinvent a concept than right here in Silicon Valley?  The revolutionary French coding university, Ecole 42, agrees.  In late May, 42 announced a Fremont location for its first facility outside of France.  The school will occup…

Where better to completely reinvent a concept than right here in Silicon Valley? 

The revolutionary French coding university, Ecole 42, agrees.  In late May, 42 announced a Fremont location for its first facility outside of France.  The school will occupy two buildings in the Ardenwood district, an area undergoing substantial business growth, given its direct proximity to the peninsula. 

Founded by French billionaire, Xavier Niel,  the unique model offers a free coding education to all its students and relies on peer-to-peer and self-guided curriculum (no professors, no classrooms).  It’s clear that 42 will prove to be an incredible resource, in the form of engineering talent, for the insatiable appetite of the region’s technology companies. 

But don’t take our word for it, take a look at this video, where several of the biggest names in tech praise what 42 is doing for higher education.

 

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Jennifer Chen
Economic Development Coordinator

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

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

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

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

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

Here is just a preview:

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

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

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

find more resources here

bioinfographic.pngnd more resources here

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Category: Biotechnology



Katie Handy
Associate, Field Paoli Architects

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

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

 

04.20.16

Maker Movement: Playing Well with Others

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

See more on http://bit.ly/1VknT3b

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Category: Manufacturing

Fremont Dedicates the Month of May to Affordable Housing



Dan Schoenholz
Deputy Community Development Director

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Category: Fremont General

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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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