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John Hennessy III,

A Roadmap For Economic Resilience: The Bay Area Regional Economic Strategy

Posted by Content Coordinator on Tuesday, November 10th, 2015


Executive Summary

The Bay Area is a global economic powerhouse. It is the model high-tech innovation hub, spawning generations of the world’s most iconic brands—companies like Intel, Apple, Tesla and Google—and innovative products and technologies. Companies and creative people flock to the region to develop new technology, lead breakthroughs in science, start companies, and drive the continued evolution of the region’s open and highly productive innovation ecosystem. The Bay Area hosts high concentrations of federal and private research labs driving radical breakthroughs in science and engineering; attracts nearly half of all venture capital invested in the United States; and has developed a diverse network of highly specialized business services that support the innovation economy. Its universities are among the best in the world. The region’s population of early adopters helps drive technological advance and new applications of technology that help improve communities and lives. Many of the region’s cities are on the cutting edge of leveraging new technology platforms for improving the delivery of public services. The Bay Area’s stunning natural beauty and mild climate only add to its appeal.

And yet, for all its strengths, the Bay Area lacks any cohesive and comprehensive regional economic strategy for sustaining economic growth, weathering business cycles and supporting shared prosperity across the region. Given the regional nature of the economy, its labor pool, housing sheds, job centers and commute flows, viable solutions must reflect a regional perspective.

  • The bay area has not prepared for the normal pace of growth over the last several decades. This becomes painfully obvious during periods of economic expansion. If not meaningfully addressed, persistent issues around housing, transportation, and the workforce threaten the region’s current growth cycle and its ability to rebound into the next growth cycle.
  • Technological advance is driving change across the economy, disrupting markets and entire industries, promising new opportunities, and adding pressure to the growing skills gap. the robust economic growth in the Bay Area is one of the strongest in the US coming out of the last recession. Since 2010, Bay Area employment has grown at nearly double the rate of other US metropolitan areas.
  • The housing market has reached a crisis point. Our region’s workforce is commuting longer times, from farther distances, and paying a greater share of household income for housing, reducing quality of life and forcing businesses and families to relocate.
  • Transportation networks are stressed. As people are priced out of the region’s core, congestion and commute times have increased—over 20% of commutes exceed 45 minutes. BART ridership has risen 55% since 1998, and the system is at capacity during peak commute times.
  • Gains in income following the recession have been uneven. Income disparities are exacerbated by a growing skills gap. In California, middle-skill jobs account for 50% of California’s labor market, but only 40% of the state’s workers are qualified.

As uncertainty and volatility increase, how do we grow our economic, environmental and social resilience? Resilience is an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change. New opportunities come with change, and they are best leveraged when a community is willing to proactively shape the future. The remaining option is a reactive mode, responding to immediate crises instead of preparing strategically for the future which is inherently different than today.

The purpose of the Regional Economic Strategy Roadmap is to offer concrete actions for growing regional prosperity and a flexible framework for developing actions going forward. Its proposals are evergreen agents of economic resilience, strategies wise in both expansion and downturn, necessary to accelerate the former and dampen the latter. It is a recipe for a robust and enduring regional economy.

bay area nonfarm employment

Download full version (PDF): The Bay Area Regional Economic Strategy

About the Bay Area Council
The Bay Area Council is a business-sponsored, public policy advocacy organization for the nine-county Bay Area. The Council proactively advocates for a strong economy, a vital business environment, and a better quality of life for everyone who lives here…Founded in 1945, as a way for the region’s business community and like-minded individuals to concentrate and coordinate their efforts, the Bay Area Council is widely respected by elected officials, policy makers and other civic leaders as the regional voice of business in the Bay Area.

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