The GDP for the valley is about $42 billion with a population of 361,000. The Northern Carolina tech triangle has a population of more than 2 million. That’s one of the many interesting findings in the Tri-Valley Rising 2018 report, an update to the first report done in 2014 by the Bay Area Council Economic Institute. The report was released Wednesday at an Innovation Tri-Valley Leadership Group event.
The Tri-Valley’s tech sector is a huge driver and helps account for the valley’s GDP per worker of $225,000, much higher than California’s at $160,000 and the United State’s at $132,000. Notably, in a comparison of tech-regions across the country, only Boston is within shouting distance at 14 percent tech employment to the valley’s 19 percent. Raleigh-Durham is at 12 percent.
The report identified five key attributes for the valley, starting with the excellence of its school system and its very well-educated workforce. About 60 percent of residents have a bachelor’s degree or higher in 2016, a nice increase from 54 percent in 2012. Driving this are skilled foreign-born workers. This population has grown from 19 percent in 2006 to 27 percent in 2016.
Another key factor in the Tri-Valley’s success is location, almost equidistant between San Francisco and the Silicon Valley and the gateway to the more affordable housing in the San Joaquin Valley. The report also cites high-value, lower-cost commercial real estate, particularly in amenity-rich business parks, Bishop Ranch in San Ramon and Hacienda in Pleasanton.
Another factor is the relative affordability of the Tri-Valley housing compared to Silicon Valley and San Francisco, although with median prices for the first six months of 2018 topping $1 million-plus in every city except Livermore, that’s a factor regionally, but a problem nationally and globally.
Two CEOs on the panel, Tim Harkness of UnChained Labs and Dave Selinger of Deep Sentinel, had differing views. Harkness recruits his high skilled professionals in the Bay Area and sells great schools, great location with limited commutes and lower housing prices. The Tri-Valley advantages in these areas allow him to continue to build his skilled work force.
Selinger buys into that but points out how the service workers taking care of his home are churning at a rapid rate. His company is headquartered in Pleasanton and he loves the lifestyle of being able to mountain bike, take his daughters to public school and still work his long days. He also pointed out that he just put together a team of 10 skilled workers in China for the same cost at two here in the valley.
The high quality of life, particularly if you’re fortunate to live and work in the valley, is a big plus. Not so much for those who fight I-580 and I-680 during commute hours. When asked about threats to his business, Harkness cited the two freeways.
I’ll delve into other aspects of the report, including more of the threats to the valley and comparisons to other tech-centric areas, next week.
To read the report, please see