Tuesday, May 24, 2011

County talks economic development, including biotech

The San Mateo Daily Journal 5/21/11.  "San Mateo County can lure new business and retain the companies already here by taking a page from areas that already found success by streamlining the permit process, creating industry hubs like the biotech center in South San Francisco and removing obstacles like overlapping requirements, according to a cross-section of officials brainstorming a regional economic strategy.
Sometimes a simply thank you doesn’t hurt, either.  Rosanne Foust, president of the San Mateo County Economic Development Association, recalled how the Redwood City Council on which she also sits, acknowledged two local companies lauded by Forbes’ top 100 places to work. The effort was free but made the businesses realize they were welcome, she said.  Small gestures like that were among the ideas shared Friday by those who gathered as part of RoCKET — Resources Connecting Knowledge, Economics and Technology — an effort spearheaded by county Supervisor Don Horsley to promote economic development. 

Horsley ran for office last year on a platform that included finding ways to lure new business and associated revenue to the county, using biotech as a strong example. Cities, the county and even the state are faced with stiff economic challenges, he said.  “It seems to be the best way out of that is economic development,” he said.  As LinkedIn showed Thursday in its initial public offering, Horsley said, there are a lot of small companies poised for development. San Mateo County ought to be the place they want to call home, he added.  Horsley assembled several individuals with that experience, including South San Francisco Mayor Kevin Mullin, former assemblyman Gene Mullin, BayBio Chief Operating Officer Jeremy Leffler and Burlingame Economic Development Specialist Patricia Love.

Drawing on her experience helping a life science company expand in Burlingame, Love said even companies located outside her city are a win for all when they reside in San Mateo County. The city can’t give companies incentives like huge tax breaks but they can tackle the small issues, she said — removing big trucks from the street so the area appears more research-oriented than industrial, fixing unreliable shuttle times for employees who rely on the mode of transportation and performing checks of buildings and plans before a formal application is submitted.  Jim Eggemeyer, the county community development director, agreed that early assistance is crucial as is establishing a single point person and being available.

Even established companies are constantly at risk of pulling up roots for better business climates in other states and countries, said Assemblyman Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, who chairs the Assembly Select Committee on Biotechnology. “The challenge that we have here is we’re under attack,” he said, citing Genentech’s manufacturing plant in Oregon and calls by the Texas governor to California companies.

South San Francisco, the largest local example of an industry-specific area, drew Genentech in the late ’70s because the former Industrial City had a large amount of vacant space and “we were cheap,” Gene Mullin recalled. The City Council also had to decide if they were willing to take a chance on the future, he said.  The question for it, he said, was “Do we want to have whatever the hell genetic engineering is in our city?”  The city is again involved in large-scale redevelopment by working with Shorenstein Properties LLC and SKS Investments to revamp Oyster Point. When done, the project will include two million new square feet accommodating up to 6,000 jobs. Investment in infrastructure, education and the business climate is what helps draw economic development, Kevin Mullin said.  Experienced staff, like those in the Planning Department, also help.  “When something comes across the counter, they speak the language,” he said.

San Mateo County has a lot of economic gems even if they aren’t widely known, Foust said. For instance, 14 of the top 100 fastest-growing companies in the Bay Area, 12 of the largest software companies in the Bay Area, six of the top 25 digital entertainment companies in the Bay Area and seven of the top 25 venture capital clean tech companies in the Bay Area are in San Mateo County, Foust said.The next step is more meetings, hopefully with federal stakeholders like congressional representatives Jackie Speier and Anna Eshoo, Horsley said."

Submitted by Jim Wagner


Anonymous said...

"14 of the top 100 fastest-growing companies in the Bay Area, 12 of the largest software companies in the Bay Area, six of the top 25 digital entertainment companies in the Bay Area and seven of the top 25 venture capital clean tech companies in the Bay Area are in San Mateo County"

let's ignore these facts and build houses and more retail commercial space which will sit empty like the current vacant spaces we have now

Kathy Meeh said...

Anon (210), maybe your intent for the past few days has been to confuse issues. If so, who is buying it, not me. Most issues and city progress are not "either", "or", at the exclusion of "and". To thrive, this city needs all of the above; and this city is committed to build a minimum of 311 housing units (ABAG regional requirement). 30% open space, rather than 2x that would offer a better "sustainable economic development" advantage, which this city does not have. And, the "open space" land in Pacifica is mostly unproductive, empty space.

How do we make up the difference, so that the city can and will thrive? This City has suggested and advanced higher TAXES and FEES, while neglecting city infrastructure. That must please you? If not, lets move forward with some progress in Pacifica. And, let's not ignore this is a city with a bad reputation toward developers, builders, regulatory delays-- all of which exists with citizen obstructionism. Want progress? CHANGE. Welcome developers who do research and planning, and can affect a better city.

You mentioned retail, commercial space sitting empty-- yet today I drove by Manor, Linda Mar and stopped at Pedro Point. These shopping center building facades have improved, the parking lots were fairly busy. The City claims business has picked-up some this year. You may have a point that the rents in Pacifica may be too high, (that would include Eureka Square which as many empty spaces).

There is no reason a carefully planned downtown village project, a custom outlet center, or clean commercial businesses (where there are jobs, services, and tax revenue) should not be just as beneficial to our population in Pacifica as to those of other nearby cities. If not, why not???

Anonymous said...

I will leave Pacifica if a custom outlet center is built. Stupid. This is a coastal community. It should be marketed as a Resort/Outdoor-Adventures/Vacation place to visit.

Kathy Meeh said...

Anon (610) have you looked around lately? A custom outlet would be a huge improvement, and bring in tax revenue for this city so you could continue to indulge your eco-tourist (economic or not) delusion.

A new place to live? Looking for all the benefits of more "open space"? Try Montara or El Granda, looks like GGNRA just received promised title to a huge land mass there.

Steve Sinai said...

"It should be marketed as a Resort/Outdoor-Adventures/Vacation place to visit."

People have been trying to do this for at least 30 years. It hasn't worked. Time to deal with reality and go in a different direction.

Anonymous said...

The attractions for Bay Area visitors are SF, the Wine Country, Lake Tahoe, Yosemite, the Monterey Peninsula. We simply are not in that league and all the trails in the world will not alter that fact. Might get a few "accidental tourists" but not enough to make us a tourist destination. You probably believed the sales pitch from those who claimed more open space would contribute to our economy? In fairness, some of them may actually believe their own propaganda. For most, however, it's merely a way to turn prime coastal real estate into a no man's land. Pacifica is circling the drain and should consider all possibilities to generate on-going revenue. Something practical and proven like a premium outlet center could very well bring us visitors, shoppers, and jobs with limited burden on city services. What's the problem? Too grubby for you?

Anonymous said...

If we could get some ham, we could have ham and eggs, if we could get some eggs.

Kathy Meeh said...

That's right, Anon (343), 30 years of Pacifica progress avoidance, and kudos to the past 8+ year city council leadership (not). Brother, can you spare a dime?, video, 3:11 minutes, the 1930's depression version. Or, Mr. Bum can you spare a dime? 2:36 minutes video, the modern recession version.

Anonymous said...

I guess we all took a vow of poverty to live here.

Kathy Meeh said...

"...vow of poverty to live here."

Most of us did not take that "vow of poverty", neither did extended-stay city council majority except on our behalf.