Who doesn’t love a new acronym? Well, maybe not everyone, but in this case, we couldn’t be happier that the Bay Area’s top planning agency is considering a new business growth tactic — the Priority Industrial Area, or PIA.

Modeled on Priority Development Areas (PDAs), the goal of the PIA is to help ensure long-term viability for industrial areas to both strengthen and diversify the regional economy. The Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) recognizes that high-growth industries found within these zones generate significant jobs and tax revenues, tend to pay better wages across a broader skill spectrum, and when centrally located, decrease travel time and ultimately costs to consumers.

ABAG’s Regional Planning Committee voted unanimously on June 3 to embark on further study of this concept. We applaud this initiative, which is explained further in our Q&A below.

Why are Priority Industrial Areas necessary?

Two words: stability and affordability. Industrial users are competing for land with higher rent uses including housing, office, or large-volume retail. This is particularly difficult for smaller firms that represent the majority of business growth and employment. Advanced industries require dedicated space to function in close proximity to other firms to gain the productivity benefits of an industrial cluster. And, the supply chain activities that support this activity are not always compatible with a broader mix of uses.

How can Priority Industrial Areas be evaluated?

PIAs could be defined as:

Places of local or regional significance that are nominated by local jurisdictions, have broad community support, and support vital businesses and jobs. These areas should have support infrastructure investments and other area improvements to foster innovation and collaboration among business clusters to strengthen existing firms and attract new ones, support the leading industries within the region, and should provide important economic and employment diversity.”

Criteria could include (1) local nomination, (2) the presence of existing industrial zoning that supports the retention and expansion of existing businesses, while accommodating new, job-generating firms, and (3) linkages to essential clusters of industrial activities, such as goods movement.

What is the draft schedule?

Preliminary findings from an Industrial Land study should be available in December 2015, followed by coordination with local jurisdictions. A draft policy for PIA guidelines would be provided to the ABAG Executive Board by fall of 2016, with the intention of being ready for a 2017 funding application cycle.

Who do I contact for more information?

Contact Johnny Jaramillo, Senior Planner at ABAG.

What other efforts are underway to support industrial land and businesses?

Design It — Build It — Ship It (DBS) http://designitbuilditshipit.com/about/

East Bay Green Corridor http://ebgreencorridor.org/start.php

SF Made http://www.sfmade.org/

Northern Waterfront FAQ sheet http://www.cccounty.us/DocumentCenter/View/35676

Industrial Land and Job Study-Summary Scope of Work http://abag.ca.gov/planning/economic.html#industrial

Economic Prosperity Strategy http://www.spur.org/publications/spur-report/2014-10-01/economic-prosperity-strategy

Urban Manufacturing Alliance http://pratcenter.net/projects/urban-manufacturing/urban-manufacturing-alliance-uma