Recently, Fremont’s Mayor Bill Harrison took a look back at the very
public demise of solar giant Solyndra, and shared the city’s lessons
from that experience. You can view the original article here from PandoDaily, a startup tech website in Silicon Valley.

Mayor begins by examining how Fremont responded to the Solyndra
bankruptcy, while maintaining an unwavering commitment to clean
technology. First and foremost, he makes the point that Fremont didn’t
back down from its clean tech initiative:

We knew clean tech
was a vital sector for future growth with high global impact. Poor
Solyndra management and a dip in the solar energy market sank the
company, not lack of opportunity …”

Diversification was
key to bouncing back. There was also an emphasis on getting the 1,000
laid off workers into other technology jobs, and proactively marketing
the real estate opportunity, which ultimately led to Seagate expanding
their Fremont operation into the building.

The Mayor then outlines what other cities can learn from Fremont’s experience:

it seems too good to be true, it probably is. We were all guilty of
buying into the hype surrounding the accelerated growth of the solar
He also advises to make the best out of the worst. “While
it may not be true that ‘any publicity is good publicity’, many
industry thought leaders have discovered that Fremont’s clean tech
portfolio extends beyond this one black sheep.”

In the future, Fremont will be using a “VC lens” to evaluate startups looking to call Fremont its home:

the market opportunity with a healthy dose of skepticism. Question
whether this specific startup has a unique advantage to withstand

Finally, the Mayor makes suggestions for clean tech companies to consider in evaluating real estate decisions, using the following checklist of questions:

  • Is there an established industry cluster?
  • Does the city offer any benefits, incentives or tax breaks?
  • Is there a workforce pipeline?
  • Is the city a cheerleader for innovation and growth?

In conclusion, the Mayor observes that:

position as a startup haven and an innovation hub makes it almost
inevitable that Solyndra won’t be the last company in our midst to go

However, continued cluster building will support
the next generation of clean tech companies, including Tesla, Soraa,
Redwood Systems and Deeya Energy. The Mayor notes that these companies “will be the names and success stories for which Fremont is remembered.”