Pleasanton Weekly

Opinion - August 6, 2010

'Innovation Tri-Valley'--Is that us?

Several large companies and the Livermore Chamber of Commerce are pushing for a moniker for the Tri-Valley so that those not familiar with where we're located can more easily find us. They say that the names Silicon Valley, Research Triangle Park in North Carolina and Route 128 outside Boston are recognized as leading technologically sophisticated regions. But even though the Tri-Valley is currently home to 765 high-tech companies, there's no "there" there when the Tri-Valley is mentioned beyond Northern California. "Where is, what is the Tri-Valley?" Marty Beard, president of Dublin-based Sybase told a luncheon gathering last week where he introduced a proposed new designation: "Innovation Tri-Valley." It's a proposal by some local business executives, stakeholders and civic leaders, including Chevron in San Ramon, Adept Technologies in Pleasanton and Sandia National Laboratories and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore. They say it's time to achieve the vision of becoming an innovation hub as a region.

Last May, the newly formed Innovation Tri-Valley Steering Committee worked to assess the region's innovation potential. The results were compiled into a report composed of interviews, an inventory of regional assets and instructive case studies. The report serves as a point of reference for developing further plans and programs and as a benchmark for measuring future progress. Based on the findings from the report, the ITV Steering Committee worked to develop a roadmap that would leverage existing assets and address key challenges. The Innovation plan includes a strategic vision, and initiatives that will be critical in achieving success. Beard identified those goals as including a greater integration among the region's organizations and assets, job growth generation and a sustainable economy and community. Easy to say. Getting there is the hard part.

The Tri-Valley already has a fertile business environment. Innovation Tri-Valley wants to turn up the heat by attracting businesses to grow in the region, generating jobs, retaining the top talent and expanding the number of major corporations based here. It also proposes joint marketing and public relations campaigns to establish a regional identity, including events such as major business conventions and seminars. It proposes raising awareness of this part of the world through an Annual Innovation Forum to become a flagship event, with official reports on Innovation Tri-Valley to be published and widely distributed. The group also wants to create a one-stop package for establishing businesses in the Tri-Valley, leveraging a network of incubation facilities to encourage start-up businesses and develop programs to support scaling businesses.

It's a start at building a better geographical identity to strengthen business development and retention in the Tri-Valley. But it will take a greater involvement from companies, cities, organizations and government agencies than Beard had last week, where companies such as Safeway, Oracle and even the mayor of San Ramon were noticeably absent. The Livermore Chamber deserves credit for sponsoring the meeting; the next one needs to focus on getting more city officials and businesses to participate, thus convincing the rest of us this effort is really worth it.


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