Published October 21, 2008
Volume 16, Number 10

Business Support Organizations Offer Both Local, Regional Focuses for Increasing Their Members’ Success

It always helps to have extra players on your team working in your best interest. The Tri-Valley has a number of such business organizations and, whether your interest is advocacy, business development, or networking, owning and operating a business here can be rewarding. The Pleasanton Chamber of Commerce, Tri-Valley Convention and Visitors Bureau, Pleasanton Downtown Association, Tri-Valley Business Council, East Bay Economic Development Alliance, and the Bay Area Council not only increase your ability to work more efficiently as a business but increase your business opportunities.

Pleasanton Chamber of Commerce
Chambers of commerce have long been known as staunch civic boosters, but their approach to the mission is in the throes of change. As Scott Raty, President and CEO of the Pleasanton Chamber of Commerce, puts it, “There’s a growing trend in local chambers, one I’m proud to be part of. It’s a movement away from a culture of parades, pageants, and pancake breakfasts to one that represents the interests of business to government with regard to public policy and political action.

“Community promotion is good, and that’s still on our agenda,” Raty continues, “but in the long haul having a strong local economy and a thriving business community benefit everyone.”

To that end the Chamber, in conjunction with the city, has just released Pleasanton 2015: A Community Vision, a document setting forth 45 measurable objectives relating to the prime attributes and amenities that impart value to the community. The effort brought together key stakeholders “to share their expertise and unique perspectives to answer one essential question – ‘In the year 2015, how will you reflect on the past seven years and measure success toward a better Pleasanton?’” 

The goals articulated in the Vision range from affordable healthcare for all residents to the opening of the Firehouse Arts Center to a police emergency response time of four minutes or less. Its nine areas of focus are transportation, arts, culture, recreation, education, public safety, housing, local economy, and leadership. The desired outcomes in each area will be the subject of discussion for community-wide forums scheduled over the next several months.

The Chamber is also aiming to raise its profile in the arena of government affairs. “We want to work together with more business owners and managers to shorten the distance from here to Sacramento--from 98 miles to clicks of a mouse,” Raty remarks.

For a copy of the Vision, information about the Chamber’s other activities and committees, or membership details, stop by the office at 777 Peters Avenue, call (925) 846-5858, or  visit www.pleasanton.org.

Pleasanton Downtown Association
Downtown Pleasanton is home to more than 575 businesses. In 1984, the City Council recognized this special business area with the creation of the Pleasanton Downtown Association (PDA). The organization operates as an assessment district with the goal of developing and promoting a vibrant downtown community. A non-profit, the PDA receives funding from member assessments, matching city funds, sponsorships, and revenue-producing events.

A certified California Main Street Community, Pleasanton’s Downtown comprises a relatively small geographic area of business and residential properties, many of them historic, in the city’s southeast corner. The PDA is organized under a four-point strategy that incorporates the elements of organization, economic restructuring, promotion, and design or physical appearance. Successful implementation of this strategy involves a mutual effort by the PDA staff, business owners, property owners, associate members, and community volunteers.

Visitors to the PDA web site, www.pleasantondowntown.net, will find “What’s Up Downtown,” the monthly calendar of events; an online business directory with 755 entries (also distributed in print throughout the valley); information about committees and volunteer opportunities; an electronic walking tour guide; and much more.

All businesses in the downtown area are automatic general members of the Pleasanton Downtown Association. An Associate Membership program allows businesses located outside district boundaries to join the organization, enabling them to take advantage of a variety of marketing opportunities, including directory listings, web site links, and attendance at PDA gatherings such as its quarterly mixers and the annual dinner. They are also entitled to participate in PDA-sponsored events at a discounted rate.

The PDA is located at 830 Main Street, Suite A, and can be contacted at (925) 484-2199 or via email at info@pleasantondowntown.net.

The Tri-Valley Convention & Visitors Bureau
The Tri-Valley Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB) is the destination marketing organization for the cities of Pleasanton, Livermore, Dublin, San Ramon, and Danville, as well as the surrounding region. It markets the Tri-Valley area as a preferred destination for visitors, meetings, and events by promoting CVB member businesses and bringing overnight visitors to the region.  Its mission is to run an effective business that increases awareness of and measurable spending to the Tri-Valley region.

Its success is evident in the numbers from its latest annual report, released in mid-August. In  the 2007-2008 fiscal year the CVB generated over $6.6 million in economic impact for the Tri-Valley region, up smartly from the $4.5 million reported for 2005-2006. Despite the challenge of a slowing economy, the destination marketing organization’s sales team generated 12,330 booked room nights, amounting to an increase of nearly two percent over the previous fiscal year.  

“Fiscal year 2007-2008 was all about growth and new ventures for the Tri-Valley, California Convention & Visitors Bureau,” according to Amy Blaschka, the organization’s President and CEO. “With our newly revised mission statement and clearly defined role, we continued to grow as a powerful sales and marketing organization for our destination.” 

A growing visitor industry creates a healthy and productive environment for members to conduct business and succeed. The advantages of membership illustrate the power of collaboration. Member benefits include a business listing and advertising opportunities in the annual Tri-Valley, California Visitors Guide, whose 55,000 circulation is distributed locally, at visitor centers, and at 12 industry tradeshows; an online listing at www.trivalleycvb.com; free public relations assistance; sales and media leads; and multiple other opportunities for exposure.  Networking is another important dimension of membership. The CVB sponsors sales and marketing seminars, the Quarterly Member Business Exchange, a Monthly Public Relations Networking Group, and the Tri-Valley Destination Showcase every January.

Among this year’s accomplishments the CVB cites the creation of a new brand identity, including logo and tagline, and the launch of a new website, complete with blogs, podcasts, visitor information, calendar of events, event registration, and more.  The website experienced traffic of over 4.4 million hits, a considerable increase from previous years.  The past fiscal year marked the debut of the Golf Tri-Valley marketing consortium, which packages Tri-Valley’s public golf courses with local accommodations. Familiarization tours and other media outreach produced nearly 35 million media impressions resulting in increased awareness and editorial coverage for the region.

An active communications department offers numerous support services and resources for local, national, and international journalists. Experienced staff can provide factual and interesting stories–on local history or Livermore Valley vineyards, for example—for print or broadcast media.

CVB offices are located at 349 Main Street, Suite 203 in Pleasanton. For more information, call (925) 846-8910 or visit www.trivalleycvb.com.

The Tri-Valley Business Council
Representing the business communities of Danville, San Ramon, Dublin, Pleasanton, and Livermore, the Tri-Valley Business Council (TVBC)  was established in 1994 with the mission of advocating for the private sector on regional issues in a way that enhances the local economic vitality.  Much of its work effecting change is carried out through five focused Policy Councils: Economic Vitality, Government Relations, Community Planning, Education Partners, and Transportation. 

“We bring industry leaders together to tackle public-policy issues,” relates Toby Brink, who has been President and CEO of the agency since September 2006. “Our goal is to ensure that Tri-Valley businesses have access to the best resources, people, and infrastructure to effectively compete in the world economy.”

Two recent events illustrate the TVBC’s commitment to its high-priority objective of preparing the region’s workforce of the future. Aiming to position the Tri-Valley as a hub for the clean energy industry, in mid-August the organization sponsored a day-long Energy Industry Workforce Development Summit at Las Positas Community College. U.S. Rep. Jerry McNerney (D-11th) gave the keynote address to an audience interested in forming a partnership between the energy industry and Tri-Valley area schools. The increasing use and production of renewable energy solutions "will mean hundreds of thousands of new, green collar jobs," McNerney pointed out. To make sure the region can capitalize on this tremendous growth, future efforts will home in on how local high schools and colleges can develop the desired pathway to green jobs.

The second event, the Health Care Industry Workforce Development Summit, convened on Friday, October 17, to address a significant challenge: the vast discrepancy between the escalating demand for healthcare professionals and the local capacity to educate them. Assemblymember Mary Hayashi delivered the keynote address to an audience that included representatives from the area’s health care providers (ValleyCare, Kaiser, and San Ramon Regional among them), physician groups, education and government leaders, and industry players such as dentists, pharmacy chains, mental health facilities, and nursing homes.  Facing up to the personnel shortfall, Summit participants focused their attention on crafting a regional workforce development strategy.  A near-term objective is adding capacity to post-secondary medical degree programs and Allied Health initiatives, Pleasanton School District’s health care academies, and ROP classes related to health care.

A variety of membership packages enables businesses of all sizes, from large corporations to start-ups to non-profits, to join the TVBC at several different levels.  All members enjoy interaction with executives, regional leaders, and elected officials; access to research, data, and expert information regarding issues and trends; and recognition for corporate citizenship and leadership by peers and the community. 

For more information about the TVBC, contact Toby Brink at (925) 227-1824 or tbrink@trivalley.org.

East Bay Economic Development Alliance
Headquartered in Oakland, the East Bay Economic Development Alliance (East Bay EDA) is a partnership comprising Alameda and Contra Costa counties, 25 cities, and a number of local businesses, chambers of commerce, labor unions, and other community organizations working collaboratively to improve the economic base of the region. The mission of the public-private partnership is to improve the East Bay business climate by developing and maintaining resources, businesses, good jobs, and a high quality of life.

"What we do is fill a niche between city economic development efforts and, say, the state economic development effort," explains Robert Sakai, the organization's Technology and Trade Director.  "The cities, of course, market themselves, but many times the issues are more regional in scope.”

Situated in the midst of one of the nation’s leading technology development areas, EDA focuses primarily on business investment and retention, regulatory coordination, networking, science, and technology.

“Our region, the northeastern portion of Silicon Valley, includes industries such as telecommunications, semiconductor manufacturing equipment, software, digital arts, medical instruments alternative energy, and drug development, to name a few,” says Sakai. New initiatives emphasize the region’s strong life sciences cluster (over 200 companies and still growing) and alternative energy development, specifically, “economical, efficient, cellulosic ethanol that does not compete with food crops.”

In 2007, competing against the leading biotech regions in the nation and the world, the East Bay succeeded in attracting the Joint Bio-Energy Institute and the Energy Biosciences Institute. “Together these two R&D centers will bring $920 million to bear on the development of sustainable biofuels,” Sakai relates.

The institutes are not the only “wins.” In the second quarter of 2008 the East Bay captured 51.5 percent of the nation’s alternative energy venture funding, more than the rest of the country combined.

The largest venture investments in California went to two East Bay companies: $132 million to OptiSolar of Hayward and $115 million to BrightSource Energy of Oakland. Aurora Biofuels of Alameda and Fulcrum Bioenergy of Pleasanton received the nation's third and fourth largest investments in biofuel development, at $20 million and $14 million, respectively.

According to data from Thomson Financial published in the PricewaterhouseCoopers MoneyTree venture capital report, the amount of venture capital received by East Bay companies hit $598 million, a total surpassed only by Silicon Valley and New England--and more than that received by 16 of the 18 regions in the country, including L.A./Orange County, New York Metro, the Midwest, San Diego, and Texas.

“If alternative energy is going to be the next big wave for Silicon Valley” observes Sakai, “the East Bay appears to have already caught it. We are rapidly becoming the nation’s leading center for biofuels research and development.”

With a well-trained workforce playing such a critical role in executing that promise, EDA is also a strong supporter of California State University East Bay’s application for a national demonstration grant to help local students improve their skills in science, technology, engineering and math.

For more information, visit the EDA web site at www.eastbayeda.org or call Executive Director Bruce Kern at (510) 272-3874.

Bay Area Council
With its well-earned reputation as an engine of prosperity and growth, the Bay Area is a formidable economic power. We are home to the fourth-highest concentration of Forbes 2,000 Global Companies, surpassed only by Tokyo, London, and New York. We also figure among the world’s 20 mega-regions, the select geographic clusters that account for just 10 percent of the world’s population while producing half of all economic activity, two-thirds of all scientific activity, and three-quarters of all global innovations. 

The Bay Area Council (BAC) is committed to maintaining this preeminence. Founded in 1945, the Council is a business-sponsored, public-policy advocacy organization for the nine-county Bay Area. It proactively advocates for a strong economy, a vital business environment, and a better quality of life for every resident. Providing a way for the region’s business community and like-minded individuals to concentrate and coordinate their efforts, over the past 60 years BAC has become widely respected by elected officials, policy-makers, and other civic leaders as the regional voice of business in the Bay Area.

The BAC’s web site targets nine areas of focus: Global Networks and Connections, Education/Workforce Preparation, Innovation Pipeline, Private Investment, Mobility, Housing and Land Use, Accessible and Affordable Healthcare, Water, and Energy. In December 2007 its China Initiative spearheaded a 40-person visit to Shanghai, Hangzhou, and Suzhou as part of its goal to position the Bay Area as the gateway between China and the United States. The Council is also “a proud first-mover on public policy related to global warming and climate change.”

Under the leadership of President and CEO Jim Wunderman, the BAC enjoys the support of hundreds of the region’s major employers, who collectively represent a workforce of more than 501,000, or one of every six private-sector employees. The organization is funded through membership subscriptions with annual dues based on company size, headquarters, and the nature of the business.

Through participation on BAC committees and a wide range of special events, members have the opportunity to connect with the most influential business and civic leaders in the region as well as top federal, state, and regional government officials. For example, this past May a group of BAC members made the trip to Washington, D.C., for a series of meetings with the Bay Area’s congressional delegation (including an almost-unheard-of hour-long session with Speaker Nancy Pelosi), Senators Boxer and Feinstein, White House officials, the Department of Energy, and senior staffers of the committees whose agendas affect regional priorities. 

Comments John Grubb, BAC vice president of communications, “In addition to the advocacy, many members appreciate the opportunity to meet and work with their senior level peers. One of the things that we think sums up the BAC is that our members are men and women of great power, but with that power comes responsibility. The BAC is a way to exercise that responsibility.”

For general information, contact the San Francisco-based BAC at (415) 981-6600. For membership inquiries, email Director Kimberly Robinson at krobinson@bayareacouncil.org.

Also in this issue ...