The annual State of the Valley Conference is typically anything but boring, and this year was no exception. The event featured a keynote by renowned presidential historian and biographer Jon Meacham and showcased a cadre of prolific speakers ranging from prominent politicians to urban-planning thought leaders to artificial intelligence experts.


City of Fremont team at the State of the Valley Conference


Regular attendees of the event have grown accustomed to a presentation known as the Silicon Valley Index delivered by Joint Venture Silicon Valley’s Russel Hancock. The Index covers a wide array of indicators that collectively provide a point-in-time snapshot of the overall economic and societal health of the region. The takeaway? Silicon Valley — which includes Southern Alameda County as well as Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties — had its arguably most accomplished year ever in 2018.

Some snippets: unemployment reached a record low 2.1 percent, over 35,000 jobs were added, a record-setting $50B in funding was given to Valley-based companies, and over 19,500 patents were issued to Valley residents and companies — also a historic record. 2018 was also a record year for the number of “unicorn” startups — those valued over $1B — a coveted list that includes Fremont-based autonomous vehicle startup

However, there is also some reason for pause: housing costs remain high, average commute times increased yet again, and bifurcation in the labor market and household income distribution continued. For its part, Fremont received a nod for taking on the challenge of adding jobs and housing near regional transit that can support car-free commutes.

The first discussion was paneled by SPUR, who provided an overview of their (deliberately) provocative report exploring future scenarios for the Bay Area 50 years from now. The report provides four scenarios for how the Bay Area could look in 50 years depending on steps the region takes in critical areas such as housing, transportation, economic inclusivity, and climate change resiliency. SPUR’s discussion was followed by a panel on artificial intelligence with experts from Stanford, Santa Clara University, and World Economic Forum. The conversation covered several meaty subjects such as human bias in AI and the implications of the 4th Industrial Revolution on the future of work.

After an impassioned speech by LA Mayor Eric Garcetti, the event concluded with a keynote monologue by Jon Meacham. Instead of sounding the alarm on the state of national politics, Meacham sought to remind us that our current point in time is not unique in the context of American history, and that progress will continue, however messy it may sometimes seem.

The State of the Valley Conference reminds us how fortunate we are to live and work in such a unique and dynamic region. It also serves as a critical platform for bringing together our region’s leaders from across all sectors to discuss how to tackle our most pressing issues and seize our most important opportunities.

To learn more about Joint Venture Silicon Valley, please visit their website at