Congressman John Garamendi (D-Walnut Grove) is hoping that developing green technology and clean energy sources can do for the Tri-Valley what computers did for Silicon Valley.
In a news conference at Las Positas College, Garamendi announced he will introduce a bill before Congress today that would create a "Livermore Valley Open Campus." It would allow access to research and technology from the Lawrence Livermore and Sandia national laboratories.
The center would help in the transfer of research from those labs to the private sector, allowing businesses and the public to work with scientists from both labs to commercialize their ideas.
"This legislation will accelerate the movement of technology," Garamendi said, adding that he could envision every company with an interest in clean energy, from Caterpillar tractors to General Motors coming to the Tri-Valley Center.
Flanked by Livermore Lab's Director George Miller and Rick Stulen, vice president of Sandia Lab, the congressman was clearly enthusiastic about the idea.
"It's downright exciting to think about a campus right next to these facilities," Garamendi said. "Think about (bringing business) from Silicon Valley, from IBM to Oracle and on and on."
He said the campus would bring new jobs to the area as the center grows and that Las Positas College would be essential to the growth.
"As the open campus develops, as Lawrence Livermore and Sandia go about their normal hiring and meeting the needs of this nation's security and research, people will be needed to fill those jobs," Garamendi said. "This community college is directly connected to the laboratories and to the businesses in the community, providing the people with skills the labs need."
The bill was praised by local business and community leaders, including Dublin Mayor Tim Sbranti.
"We're very excited about the Open Campus and what it means for the entire region in terms of economic development and opportunity," Sbranti said. "This project will benefit us in the same way the dot-com boom benefited the entire Silicon Valley."
Garamendi pointed to Ultracell, which he called a local success story, as an example of how the center would work. Ultracell developed a fuel cell that provides long-term power that's currently being used by the military.
The bill would amend the Atomic Energy Defense Act to allow the Administrator for Nuclear Technology to authorize a transfer center in Livermore.