Here’s Food for Thought . . . We are what we eat.
Healthy bodies are fueled by healthy food; but there’s more – healthy food also produces healthier students with healthier minds, fueled to learn.
That’s why the Silicon Valley Leadership Group Foundation has teamed up with State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson and Lam Research CEO Martin Anstice to support our “Salad Bars for Schools” initiative, funded through our Lam Research “Heart & Soles 5K” run.
Our three-year goal is to provide salad bars in 105 Silicon Valley schools; with our year-one “stretch goal” to fund 30 salad bars.
Well, with the help of our 5K community sponsors – the San Jose Silicon Valley Changer of Commerce, South Bay Labor Council and the Santa Clara County Office of Education, we blew that goal away, funding all 60 schools that applied for salad bars.
Does it matter? Consider the facts:
- Currently, 3 of every 4 kids don’t eat the recommended daily amount of fruits and vegetables.
- Salad bars significantly increase the percent of low-income kids that eat fruits and veggies.
- Salad bars improve the diets of kids by consuming fewer calories, less fat and less cholesterol.
All kids deserve healthy school meals. Our Foundation’s goal is to place a salad bar in every interested school in Silicon Valley. If you have the appetite to help, watch for news soon about next year’s “Heart & Soles 5K” and join us.
Here’s food for thought . . . When it comes to strengthening downtown San Jose, it is time we are spurred to action.
And thanks to a recent report by the civic group appropriately named SPUR, we have renewed reasons to focus on the future of downtown San Jose.
As the report shows, the key is to get more people into downtown San Jose to fill it with vibrancy and life. Downtown streets are packed episodically – for the Jazz Festival, our Silicon Valley Turkey Trot or Sharks games, for example – but on a day-to-day basis it still lacks the density of other downtowns, including regional neighbors like Oakland and San Francisco:
- With roughly 36,000 jobs, downtown San Jose has less than half the employment of downtown Oakland – with more than 80,000 jobs – and less than one-eighth that of downtown San Francisco – with more than 300,000 jobs.
- Downtown San Jose is home to less than 14,000 residents, just over half the number in downtown Oakland – with 23,000 residents – and about one-fourth of the residents in downtown San Francisco – with nearly 56,000 residents.
So what should we do about it?
- First, focus on high-quality urban design and dense development of all kinds in downtown. This will not only result in a more connected, attractive place, it also encourages walking, biking and transit.
- Second, maximize regional transit investments by holding sites adjacent to BART and Caltrain stations for job-generating uses. This is the best way to ensure high transit ridership and allow for the vibrancy and density downtown San Jose needs without causing gridlock.
- Third, downtown San Jose is already the cultural, entertainment and creative urban center of the South Bay. Build on this strength by making it easier to start creative businesses and activate the streets and other public spaces.
Reports are great. Eliciting action is even better. Let’s use this report to spur action. Let’s build a downtown worthy of Silicon Valley.
Here’s food for thought . . . Attacks are often opportunities to correct, rather than cower.
A wonderful opportunity recently occurred from a somewhat surprising source: A column in the well-respected San Francisco Chronicle that referenced our 11th Annual CEO Survey. The columnist opined: “… that Silicon Valley somehow operates in a self-contained world of greatness, where it takes no responsibility for the very problems it complains about.”
What a head-scratcher.
Here’s what our nearly 400 member companies have done to address broad community issues.
On housing, the Leadership Group:
- Created the nation’s most innovative Housing Trust Fund, which has raised nearly $70 million in voluntary contributions, leveraging $2 billion in private development, already assisting more than 10,000 families.
- Was one of two Co-Chairs of the 2002 $2.1 billion statewide Housing Bond and the 2006 $2.85 billion statewide Housing Bond, which provided housing opportunities for more than 200,000 low income Californians.
- Is currently convening major Silicon Valley stakeholders to determine what meaningful and measurable role we can play to help eradicate homelessness in Silicon Valley. Homelessness is not a “bottom-line business issue,” per se, but a moral imperative to help the most vulnerable in our Valley.
On traffic, the Leadership Group:
- Has led, not just supported, four successive sales tax measures collectively contributing $10 billion for regional transportation improvements, including:
- A 1984 measure to fund Highways 85, 101 and 237.
- A 1996 measure to fund 19 key road and transit improvements, all delivered on-time and on-budget.
- Measures in 2000 and 2008 to fund the Silicon Valley BART extension and major Caltrain improvements.
- Currently, we are convening stakeholder meetings for a new traffic relief measure slated for the 2016 ballot.
When one considers that businesses in Silicon Valley pay more than 40 cents of every dollar in sales taxes collected, this investment in our communities are costs we cannot pass on as we compete globally.
On taxes, the Leadership Group has:
- Supported more tax increase proposals than it has ever opposed, including measures we have championed for education parcel taxes and school bonds, housing, homelessness, transportation, open space, parks, flood protection, clean water and even general fund revenue for local governments.
Yes, attacks can be opportunities. My goal is not to attack back, but to dialogue rather than to give in to divisiveness. The Chronicle columnist would have known better had he picked up the phone before picking up his pen.
Here’s food for thought . . . If we want to increase employment, then let’s learn from employers.
Annually, the Silicon Valley Leadership Group conducts a “CEO Business Climate Survey,” seeking direct input from the innovators and entrepreneurs who drive our region’s economy.
This year, 222 executives responded. The results are enlightening:
- Last year, 2013, 62 percent added jobs in Silicon Valley, with only 9 percent subtracting jobs.
- This year, 2014, 59 percent expect to add jobs here in Silicon Valley, with only 4 percent anticipating job losses.
Indeed, Silicon Valley continues to lead California and our country when it comes to job growth and economic recovery.
So what do employers, and our employees, need from policy makers to stay successful in innovation and job creation?
- Locally, CEOs call for improvements on our local streets, roads and transit systems so that employees and their families can get around. We need quality schools for our children, and homes that working families can afford.
- At the state level, we need meaningful investments in infrastructure to repair aging roads and ease traffic congestion. We need sensible solutions to the high cost of housing and investments in K-12 and higher education.
- From Congress, we need immigration reform that ensures the best and the brightest can compete for our companies rather than against us, and tax reform that is fair to workers and keep our companies competitive.
This year’s CEO Business Climate Survey underscores that executives are willing to speak out, to search for solutions, to invest in answers. Silicon Valley’s innovation does not end within the walls of our companies, it extends through the neighborhoods in our communities.