Mayors talk cooperation, economic development, transportation

Annual summit draws more than 350

San Ramon and Danville mayors Abram Wilson and Karen Stepper joined mayors from Pleasanton, Livermore and Dublin to talk about regional cooperation, economic development, working with businesses and the chambers of commerce and branding the Tri-Valley as one entity rather than five cities.

The annual mayors summit rotates to each city in turn and was held this year in Livermore at Wente Vineyards. The sold-out event drew about 360 people, including business leaders, members of chambers of commerce from each city, 15th district Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan and Ro Khanna, the commerce department's deputy assistant Secretary for the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service.

Regarding transportation, all five mayors were in general agreement that interstates 580 and 680 are top priorities, as well as completion of State Route 84.

Both Wilson and Stepper focused on I-680 improvements, although Danville officials have been keeping a close watch on the expansion of the Caldecott Tunnel on state Route 24, while San Ramon is looking at new exit and entrance ramps at Norris Canyon Road.

On economic development, Wilson said the key is to listen to what companies want, whether they're large or small, and to let them know about quality-of-life issues in what he called "a Norman Rockwell type of environment."

Stepper said Danville is focusing on "retaining and expanding" small businesses, as well as digital technology for residents.

"We're looking at the technology so they don't necessarily need to leave home," she said.

All five mayors are looking forward to businesses coming to the area as part of I-GATE and the new Livermore Valley Open Campus. I-GATE recently opened a business hub in Livermore as part of a regional effort to help businesses develop clean energy and transportation systems; the open campus is a push to help businesses commercialize research and technology from the Lawrence Livermore and Sandia national laboratories.

"We're talking about 5,000 jobs in five years," Stepper said.

Wilson said the five cities are doing "everything we can to work together."

"We want to be the next Silicon Valley," he said. "In the next five years, they'll be looking at us as a place to relocate."

In terms of cooperation, Wilson pointed to trips to Washington D.C.; when he attended alone, he said he got little but "a pat on the head."

"When we go back as one entity, we sit down, we have a game plan," Wilson said. "We realize we are all working together."

Stepper said there are opportunities for the cities to cross market rather than compete. She said all five need to pursue joint policies and promote the entire area.

"We need to work harder (so) when you Google 'Tri Valley,' we come up," she said, something immediately agreed upon by Wilson.

"People are coming to us," he said. "I see the labs as part of the entire region."

With Wilson and Livermore Mayor Marshall Kamena terming out this year and Stepper rotating out next year, one audience member submitted a question about whether the partnership between the cities could last.

The mayors said they all plan on staying involved, whether through volunteer work or by running for a different office.

"It's not the title that matters, it's where your heart is," Stepper said.

Wilson and Kamena are both running for council seats.

But, Wilson said, "If you need a title to serve, then you shouldn't be serving."


Like this comment
Posted by CDSI Research Fellowship
a resident of another community
on Sep 30, 2011 at 7:14 am

Dear Editor,

In followthrough of this news release publication, as an Express Story, would you please detail where in Danville such "Silicon Valley" technology companies could be located and where enough space is available for significant engineering and fabrication centers? Also, let's ask the Danville council and its economic development operation to explain how funding available for such small footprint technology operations were resisted by heritage concerns and how withdrawal of such investment has occurred.

Finally, Geoff might offer a view of the overall economic development plan for Danville as WHERE, how, what, and when. In the past three years global funding brought investment capital to Danville through trade banks, investment trusts, and venture groups with only resistance by Danville's government and various "old town" interests.

Has there been a change in intent and attitudes toward such technology development in Danville?

Like this comment
Posted by [update]
a resident of another community
on Oct 4, 2011 at 12:07 pm

Dear Editor,

News services conducted interviews with attendees of this event including interviews with their corporate planning groups. Emerging from such interviews were corporate documents that illustrate individual tri-valley city and county restrictions on corporations and the lack of tax benefits in comparison to more favorable locations such as Portland OR, Vancouver WA, Austin TX, Albany NY and even the North Bay Area’s 80 corridor. Federal development programs linked to Lawrence National Laboratories serve our federal government in roll-out of defense technologies for commercial and industrial product development but little of that investment is locally targeted.

More likely, such emerging technologies will go to areas in North America where free trade and enterprise zones are matched to tax and investment incentives for new start-ups and corporate divisions/subsidiaries/alliances. A little digging will expose this very political attempt to make mayors appear to be pro-job creation as little more than a feel-good exercise.

Like this comment
Posted by Alan
a resident of Blackhawk
on Oct 4, 2011 at 12:40 pm

CDSI Research Fellowship

If you accurately read the article, you would have realized that Mayor Wilson was referring to the Tri-Valley being the next Silicon Valley, not Danville. He is not the Mayor of San Ramon, not Danville! You apparently have an axe to grind with Danville, but that is no excuse to pretend to misunderstand an article that is clearly written.

Like this comment
Posted by [clarification]
a resident of Danville
on Oct 4, 2011 at 3:21 pm

Dear Editor,

Alan has raised an excellent point that explains my purpose for questioning Danville's ability to participate in prospering "silicon valley" technology. My funding principals have several small technology start-ups in the Dublin, Pleasanton and Livermore industrial parks that prosper their IPAC relationships with our national labs. Danville, as part of the renewal of their business district, has had the opportunity for such funding to convert existing, underused and outdated commercial property south of Hartz Avenue into small-footprint technology operations very attractive and complimentary to Old Town Danville.

My question is "why hasn't such funding outreach been considered by the Danville government?" Quite opposite to Alan's comments, my purpose has been to bring economic growth and development to Danville's business district.

It remains your story to tell and Geoff is an exceptional resource to gather the specifications of what technology facilities may be welcome.

Like this comment
Posted by jrm
a resident of Vista Grande Elementary School
on Oct 4, 2011 at 9:26 pm

Abram, Marshall and Karen will have to realize your time has come to move on...we thank you, but others are now ready to take your place and this is not a permanent job for you all.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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