Peninsula’s surging economy about to get hotter

Connector, convener and contributor were the keywords that SAMCEDA (San Mateo County Economic Development Association) President and CEO Rosanne Foust ticked off to describe her organization’s roles as influencers on the Peninsula. Turns out SAMCEDA’s influence far exceeds the confines of San Mateo County. Its membership includes numerous global companies, alongside hot startups and Bay Area anchor businesses.

At the business group’s annual luncheon, Foust, SAMCEDA Chair Steve Mincey and two top economists presented the latest findings from SAMCEDA’s 2013/14 annual update. The current boom – with 110,000 jobs added in the region in just the last year – had everyone buzzing with optimism.

Foust noted that 2019 will be here before we know it and, with it, the electrification of Caltrain, a huge boon for the Peninsula. Follow that down the road to 2029 when SAMCEDA members will easily zip down to southern California on High Speed Rail for efficient business and leisure trips.

Keynote speaker Russ Hancock of Joint Venture Silicon Valley offered a big picture of the region’s accelerated growth. “What’s doing it? It’s I.T., it’s cloud computing, it’s social media … and the growth spreads out from there to other sectors – healthcare and construction.”

Hancock also predicted that as hot as the economy is, “it’s about to get hotter.” He cited three contributors to unprecedented growth in the coming years:

  1. The Internet of Things – from wearables to utilities and beyond, numerous everyday devices will soon become “smart.”
  2. Security – the need for encryption and tighter controls around all this big data being created.
  3. Return of Manufacturing – this isn’t your grandmother’s manufacturing; it’s smaller, more customized, “boutique” style manufacturing, driven by such things as mass customization and 3D printing.

The region and the economy are not without their challenges. Economist Stephen Levy tempered the buoyancy with some stark realities about a growing income gap and the demise of middle-wage jobs. Also, the luncheon was held on the heels of recent news indicating that the Bay Area’s traffic congestion is one of the worst in the nation, second only to Los Angeles.

But Levy remained optimistic. Given the innovators and smart thinkers in the region, there is great potential for lifting all boats, he said. “And we’ve got Caltrain,” noted Levy. “And Caltrain links us all!”

(Wilson Meany VP Elizabeth Billante presents Bay Meadows commercial opportunities to SAMCEDA members)


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