How does the Tri-Valley fit into the global economy? That has been a question posed by dozens of stakeholders concerned about the region's economic development. Many of them have joined forces in a new organization, Innovation Tri-Valley, that has taken on a branding initiative to raise the region's profile and promote its collection of favorable attributes.
Innovation Tri-Valley grew organically through a succession of conversations and events, starting a few years ago with a day-long forum of panel discussions about timely issues related to creating innovation and embracing diversity.
An even more startling question emerged: "Why is the Tri-Valley invisible?"
"When we get national or international media coverage, our dateline is always Silicon Valley," remarks Dale Kaye, the former Livermore Valley Chamber of Commerce CEO who was a driving force behind the new nonprofit and has just been named its CEO. To base the branding on a solid footing, the group commissioned a study to enumerate the region's assets and benchmark them against other innovation hubs in the country.
The survey generated some interesting statistics about the Tri-Valley: it is home to California's largest company, Chevron; has a total of 697 technology companies and claims the highest percentage of 1s (fast-growing companies) in the nation; and has started to see the arrival of venture capital firms. The one missing link, a major university, is offset by the presence of two national laboratories, Lawrence Livermore and Sandia, both hotbeds of research and technology transfer.
The group decided to form an organization that would hone the identity of and serve as a voice for the fertile mix of innovation ingredients. "It's all about regionalism," notes Kaye. "We are stronger and mightier if we speak together addressing issues that can hinder business development." Current high-priority action items include turning today's students into a skilled workforce and streamlining the municipal permitting process as companies scale up and become successful.
Innovation Tri-Valley already has several accomplishments to its credit. One program focused on a local company, Bridgelux, a pioneer manufacturer of clean energy LED lights. A group of advocates worked with the Livermore City Council and staff to propose the technology for city street lights; the deployment agreement was just finalized in November 2012. Another effort targets opening up the lines of communication between business and education. "We've created a platform for business to tell the K-community college system what they need to have an educated workforce," Kaye explains. Emphasizing Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math, the STEM program supports the development of these skills in local schools.
In the area of permitting, Innovation Tri-Valley members are working with Assemblymember Joan Buchanan and others to create a model program that avoids redundancies at various levels of government to accelerate the local process. Removing this major deterrent to business growth allows companies to focus on the advantages of the regional environment.
The effort to stand out continues with further emphasis on garnering recognition for the region's selling points through events like last fall's CleanTech Open in Dublin and the flagship Annual Tri-Valley Innovation Forum, this year slated for July 25th.
Also in this issue ...