EMERYVILLE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
2020 VISION PLAN AND STRATEGY FOR EMERYVILLE
FEBRUARY 28, 2012
Introduction. In this document, the Emeryville Chamber of Commerce presents a 7-part Vision Plan and Strategy. We are presenting this Plan to the Emeryville City Council, the business community, residents, our school district and regional government, business and civic leaders in the spirit of a shared vision of partnership while moving forward together.
By action by the State Legislature, the saga of Emeryville’s highly successful Redevelopment Agency officially came to an end on February 1st, 2012, and needs not be recounted here. The question now becomes: What do we need to do to seize control of our own economic destiny to keep our City moving in the positive direction that it has for the last 35 years?
The Emeryville Chamber of Commerce recognizes that we are in the throes of major economic and political upheaval in California. While serious challenges confront us, the Chamber recognizes the seriousness of the situation and accepts the challenge of partnering with our allies in City government and the community to chart a new economic direction for all us.
2020 Vision Plan and Strategy for Emeryville. With this in mind, the Emeryville Chamber of Commerce is proud to present our 2020 Vision Plan and Strategy for Emeryville.
The Chamber’s Vision Plan and Strategy encompasses the following elements:
1. Strategic Partnerships are More Vital Than Ever. Where politically and economically feasible, Emeryville must continue to look to form regional and subregional strategic alliances that can strengthen our economic base, both directly, through business locations here; and indirectly through businesses located in neighboring communities which will produce “spin off “ economic benefits for us.
Emeryville has already undertaken several innovative and productive initiatives in this regard, including: (A) The East Bay Green Corridor Partnership, (B) Working with the East Bay EDA on its “Building on Our Assets 2011”: and (C) A home-grown initiative, the BioTech Corridor, a collaboration among our Chamber, the Berkeley Chamber of Commerce and both cities’ Economic Development departments, to create and market a zone extending from Bayer’s complex in West Berkeley.
In these times of diminished resources, strategic partnerships with surrounding jurisdictions must be explored. The Chamber strongly urges you to consider searching for similar partnerships, and we pledge our full support to help facilitate these efforts.
2. Two Critical Infrastructure Projects: Citywide Broadband and Water Infrastructure. (A) Citywide Internet Broadband Connections. Citywide internet broadband connections are absolutely essential if Emeryville is to remain a viable business location. We are aware of at least two Bay cities – San Mateo and San Leandro – which have undertaken initiatives to upgrade broadband access in their cities. Emeryville cannot afford to fall behind in this area. Emeryville’s small, compact size makes our City an ideal location to undertake such an initiative. The Chamber of Commerce has excellent contacts in both San Leandro and San Mateo that we can access for information and contacts which we can use for the basis for a similar effort in Emeryville. The Chamber is confident that we can find a local broadband internet provider who will work with us to pursue this critically important project.
(B) Upgrading Water Infrastructure. There is nothing less interesting or exciting than a city’s water infrastructure. There is also nothing more important for us to focus on. As stated in a recent article by Ken Orski, “…when water and sewer systems begin to fail our very civilization is at risk.” The complete text of Mr. Orski’s perceptive article, which highlights the importance of sewers and water infrastructure upgrades, is attached as an appendix to this document and stresses the need for localities to take the lead in funding water infrastructure upgrades, and to not count on the Federal government for this funding. Upgrading our sewers and water infrastructure is essential to accommodate our business and residential growth as anticipated in Emeryville’s recently-approved General Plan.
Infrastructure Financing District. In this vein, the Chamber of Commerce formally requests that the City Council begin to explore the creation of an Infrastructure Financing District to fund a citywide upgrade and expansion of Emeryville’s water infrastructure.
3. Become the East Bay Home for New and Emerging Technologies. Fast-growing companies in the biotech, clean tech, nanotech and stem cell research industries present the single most exciting segment of business growth both in California and nationwide. Emeryville has already undertaken one significant effort in this regard, the East Bay Biotech Corridor, a project we applaud and in fact are a partner with you. We suggest that we not stop here. Let’s take advantage of the resources around us to undertake an effort to create for Emeryville an image and a brand as a center for New and Emerging Technology companies, similar to what San Jose has done as the capital of Silicone Valley.
4. Pursuit of our Enterprise Zone. With the demise of Redevelopment, our long-awaited Enterprise Zone now takes on increased importance. The Chamber stands ready to work closely with your economic development staff to promote our Enterprise Zone as a powerful vehicle for business attraction.
5. Marketing Emeryville as a Destination Location for Travelers/ Business. It is our view that Emeryville has been undermarketed as a travel destination, especially for business, government and small-group travel. While we cannot accommodate large conventions, a la the Moscone Center in San Francisco, the Chamber believes that Emeryville must now take a serious look at the business, geographic and hospitality assets that we possess and begin a formal and sustained business-destination marketing program. We now have in our City, or are surrounded by, impressive travel-related assets that can form the foundation for a permanent travel promotion program. Consider the following:
• Four hotels; 925 hotel rooms
• Plentiful restaurants and shopping
• Close proximity to both the Oakland and San Francisco International Airports
• An Amtrak Station with convenient bus connections to San Francisco
• Free Emery Go Round Service to BART
• Easy access to and from four major Interstate freeways and State highways.
• Proximity to UC Berkeley and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.
The Americas Cup sailing races are coming to the San Francisco Bay Area in 2013. The Chamber believes this presents the perfect opportunity for us to launch a permanent, sustained effort to capture the travel market.
Emeryville is surrounded by cities with permanent travel marketing programs. It is time we got off the sidelines and into the game. The potential boost to our City’s economy from hotel and sales tax revenue cries out for us to take action. Again, the Chamber and our hospitality industry members stand ready to work with you, now, to begin to explore the best course of action for us.
6. Strengthen Relationships with UC and LBNL. We have long known that Emeryville enjoys substantial economic benefits as a result of our proximity to two major economic engines that are on our doorstep: UC Berkeley and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. We know that our four hotels already realize healthy spikes in occupancy during major UC events, such as graduation in May and Big Game Weekend in November. At a minimum, we need to reinforce and strengthen this relationship.
However, the economic contributions of UC Berkeley and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory extend beyond hotel stays. For example, we know that UC students are big fans of Bay Street Emeryville and frequent the AMC movie theaters there. Our restaurants and shopping venues benefit from our proximity to Cal and the Lab, and UC Berkeley purchases over $1.5 million annually in goods and services from Emeryville-based businesses.
We propose that the City and the Chamber of Commerce work together to explore how we can reach out to the UC administration and various departments to more aggressively market Emeryville and our businesses with UC Berkeley and the LBNL.
7. Endorsing the Chamber’s Healthy City Initiative Program. The Chamber would like to make a separate presentation to you in the near future on our Healthy City Initiative Program. However, for the purposes of this paper we want to make the point of how we can use Emeryville’s compact size to our advantage.
Conclusion. Now in our 26th year, the Emeryville Chamber of Commerce is proud of our record of a quarter century of business and civic leadership. We submit this slate of ideas to the City Council and the community in the spirit of partnership, a shared vision, and building a stronger, healthier and more vibrant community. We invite open debate and thorough discussion of all of the ideas and elements presented here.
Civic amenities are a key part of the quality of life we enjoy in Emeryville. We all want them and support the creation of more of them. But these amenities must be paid for. Tax revenue is required to build, and maintain them. The business community clearly plays a crucial role here. The business community generates 70% of the city’s general fund revenues, mandating – in our view -- a balanced approach by Council in land use decisions and public policy direction.
But agree or disagree, we submit that now is the time for bold and decisive action to chart the next course of Emeryville’s economic future. The future will belong to the visionaries and risk-takers who have the vision, courage and passion to seize the opportunities that surround us, and to create those opportunities where they do not exist. These are exciting times, and in Emeryville’s long history our government and business leaders have continually demonstrated a willingness to work in close partnership to create a better and more prosperous City. It is in this vein that that Emeryville Chamber of Commerce presents this 2020 Vision Plan and Strategy for Emeryville. We look forward to working together with you to begin creating the next phase of Emeryville’s economic future.
FOR THE EMERYVILLE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
Chris Coan, Ex’pression College for Digital Arts
Chairman of the Board, Emeryville Chamber of Commerce
Bob Canter, ACE
President & CEO
Emeryville Chamber of Commerce
February 28, 2012
Updated March 8, 2012