About 250 individuals attended the Silicon Valley Economic Forum at the Computer Museum in Mountain View. The Silicon Valley Leadership Group (SVLG) organized the forum.
The first panel addressed “Innovation, Driving technological and social change in Silicon Valley.” Moderator Andrea Mackenzie, General Manager, Open Space Authority presided over the discussion.
“Incredible change has happened in this information age which has made it necessary to understand how to access and understand information. Workforce members now are hired for what they can do for a firm with understanding and reliability. Preparation is essential in areas of STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics). How does one go about learning? One platform, the Khan Academy, is already available online to all who have a computer. A major reform is the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), which now allocates resources at the School Board level. Teachers must be included ,and informed about the needs of industry, to ensure that instructional changes are made to develop the informed skilled workforce needed. Innovation has changed education. Today reforms are needed in traditional approaches to enable instruction of students having multiple ethnicities, mother-language skills, and different cultural backgrounds. Jennifer Thomas, SJTA, emphasized that teachers and parents must be informed, and included early, if classroom instruction changes are to be made effectively and efficiently. A closing summary was made by Supervisor Mike Wasserman, President, Board of Supervisors, County of Santa Clara.
The second panel discussed “REGION: Infrastructure issues that impact Silicon Valley. Here two current conditions were expressed: a) About half of the work force laboring in San Jose commutes to their jobs from elsewhere; they live elsewhere; and no effective public transit system exists today. And b) A very large homeless population lives here in Silicon Valley, which is a center of great wealth and influence. Equity is non-existent as long as income disparity exists. Affordable housing is not available in sufficient quantity. The lack of a redevelopment agency hampers efforts to mitigate this housing shortfall.
The third panel dealt with ‘California business climate—broken or bustling? A panelist was Tony Estremera, District Board Chair, Santa Clara Valley Water District. “Where water flows, the economy grows” was an apt introduction concerning the current drought impact. Everyone at all levels of this society and economy are affected by the shortage of potable water. Efforts to recycle, conserve and improve/expand storage capacity were described. Investment in solar/wind energy to provide electric power to desalination processes/plants is essential. This would add potable water in volume to existing supplies. But at what cost? Effective monitoring and regulations need reform & updating.
The fourth panel addressed “Federal: Bridging the world’s capital of innovation with Washington, D.C. and was moderated by Ron Gonzales, CEO, Hispanic Foundation Silicon Valley. Unlike Los Vegas, what happens in Washington, D.C., does not stay in Washington, D.C. There is a need for the use of more ‘public-private sector partnerships to address many neglected infrastructural issues. Topics briefly touched were ‘how to encourage more women to enter STEAM careers’; the training levels necessary; encouraging Latinos to become informed skilled workforce needed by CA commercial sector; and the impact of having a local ‘Patent Office’.
In closing this SV Regional Ecoonmic Summit, the priority items were a) Improvement of education at all levels; b) reform of immigration and IRS tax code and c) develop and refine policy dealing with energy and potable water in a sustainable manner.