Manufacturing poised for bright future, experts say
OAKLAND » Manufacturing in the Bay Area has a bright future and already accounts for a big chunk of the area’s jobs, according to a new report presented Thursday at a manufacturing summit in Oakland.
The Bay Area has more than 340,000 manufacturing jobs, which account for 10 percent of all jobs in the nine- county region, the report by JLL, a commercial realty brokerage, stated.
More than 7,500manufacturing companies are located in the Bay Area, the JLL study determined.
“Bay Area manufacturing is here to stay,” the report said.
The summit was the second organized by the Bay Area Manufacturing Initiative, a nonprofit formed to spur creation of what the group calls an “interconnected manufacturing ecosystem” in the region. The first event was held in San Francisco in 2016. This year’s summit was held at a west Oakland warehouse.
“The Bay Area has one of the strongest manufacturing economies in the nation,” said Kate Sofis, chief executive officer with SFMade, a nonprofit that is spearheading the manufacturing summit efforts.
Supporters of a stronger manufacturing sector in the region are attempting to organize a Bay Areawide manufacturing day.
“No longer will cities compete against each other for manufacturing,” Oakland’s Mayor Libby Schaaf said in an address to the manufacturing summit. “We all have to work together and coop-
Anumberofmanufacturers attended the event, held at the Poplar Gallery in a West Oakland live-work industrial complex operated by American Steel Studios. Among them was Chris Gregg, senior vice president of operations with Impossible Foods, a company that develops meat and cheese products from plants.
“When we thought about locating the facility, putting it outside of the Bay Area never came up,” Gregg told the group. “We needed to be near our scientists. We are here to stay.”
Gregg, however, conceded that factory production in the Bay Area is unquestionably challenging, considering labor, commer- cial property and housing costs, along with a thicket of red tape in California that every company must untangle.
“Even though the cost of manufacturing in the Bay Area is expensive, the value of proximity to innovation and technology outweighs that cost,” Gregg said. “The Bay Area is so rich with technology and innovation.”
Of the Bay Area’s three major urban centers, however, only the South Bay managed to add manufacturing jobs over the most recent 12-month period, this news organization’s analysis of state labor statistics has determined.
“San Jose has a different manufacturing base, because a lot of ours is tech manufacturing, and contract work,” said Chris Burton, a senior business development manager with the city of San Jose. “We have a lot of land and space in San Jose to supportmoremanufacturing companies.”
During the one-year period that ended in September, Santa Clara County added 4,200 manufacturing jobs. That’s a 2.6 percent rise to 167,400 manufacturing jobs, including positions in computer electronics manufacturing, according to figures culled from the state Employment Development Department.
Over the same year-long period, the East Bay lost 1,000 manufacturing jobs, for a 1.1 percent decrease to 89,800 manufacturing jobs.
The San Francisco- San Mateo region lost 300manufacturing jobs. That’s a 0.8 percent decline to 38,100 manufacturing jobs at the end of September.
“We need to support, fight for, and coddle our manufacturing space,” Mayor Schaaf said.
Attendees at the 2017Bay Area Manufacturing Summit in Oakland listen to speakers at the event.
Attendees at Bay Area Manufacturing Summit inspect cast-iron skillets produced at AB&I Foundry in Oakland.